Thursday, 11 July 2013

Taste the rainbow!

Anyone who knows me will know that I adore baking and decorating cakes, so when my niece's 6th birthday was coming up, of course I offered to bake her cake!  I really have no idea what she is into right now because every time I ask her she gives me a different answer, so I asked her what her favorite color is.  She told me her favorite is light purple, but then later she came up to me and whispered that she really likes all the colors in the whole entire rainbow.  Well, of course I had to make a rainbow cake for her!  Now, I love for cakes to have a little bit of a surprise factor, and this one is no exception!  I made several 8" round cakes and cut them in halves so they would sit in a rainbow arch shape on the cake board.  I hollowed out the middle 3 layers and stuffed them full of skittles!  Then I put the outer layer on and sealed it up, iced it like a rainbow, added some little cake ball clouds and threw on some gold coins for the gold at the end of the rainbow.  Voila!  Nobody knows what is inside until it gets cut open when they get to "See the rainbow, Taste the rainbow" (get it, skittles reference!)

Jumping through Name Changing Hoops!

Ack! It has been forever since I posted on my blog! Life has a way of getting in the way sometimes!

We recently got married (in Vegas! woo!)  I have found that there are zero resources that explain in detail what steps for a Saskatchewan resident to change their name after marriage, so I have decided to document my journey of hoop jumping to help others out.

Step 1: Since we got married in Las Vegas, we got our marriage license there.  It was super easy.  You can pre-apply online on the Clark County Website.  We didn't do that, so we had to fill out the most basic of forms when we got there.  It did throw us for a loop for a second though when it wanted to know the cities our parents were born in and their middle names.  They were ok with us not having one of those filled in that we couldn't remember, but I think they would have been less lenient if we had more empty spots.  (For the record; the marriage license issuer is really easy to get to.  If you get on a Las Vegas city bus on the strip called the SDX and ride it to the Freemont St. Experience stop it is only a one block walk south from the stop on the east side of the road. Big pink building. can't miss it. There is a big sign out front on the south side of the building where to enter to get your marriage license)  It was very quick and easy for us, there were only 2 couples in line ahead of us.  The bus ride was longer than the length of time we were inside!

Step 2: Get Married!! Make sure you take your license with you to wherever you choose to get married.  They will give you a keepsake copy of your marriage certificate, but this is not the one you need for changing your name.  Anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks after your wedding you can go to the Clark County Records Website, type in your name(s) and search for your certificate, at which point you will pay $15 to have your legal marriage certificate mailed to you.

Step 3: Wait patiently for your certificate to show up!  While you are waiting, change your name on all the fun and easy stuff like Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and email signatures!

Step 4: Find out that if you want to LEGALLY change your name in Saskatchewan there is a $125 fee, but it is not necessary if you are changing your surname after marriage, divorce, annulment  or becoming a widower.  Marriages in the United States are automatically recognized in Canada and filed with Vital Statistics.

Step 6: The logical first step for me was to change my Sask. Drivers License.  I had such a good picture for my last one (i know! that never happens!) I was hesitant to go for another one, so I waited for a good hair and make-up day!  Take your marriage certificate with you as proof of name change.  Note that if you have a package policy on your vehicle separate from your regular insurance/registration, your name may or may not be changed on that and you may have to contact that insurance provider to change it.  (Some license issuers will accept a copy of your marriage license, but some will not.  If you take your original with you, I suggest keeping it in a protective sleeve or you will need to spend another $15 on a new one!)  For me there was a $10 fee to re-do my photo id. No other associated fees.

Step 7:  Sask Health Services Card.  I found the website confusing and the form confusing as well, but I made sure I called and a nice lady helped me with which form and which sections to fill out.  This is the right form. (Change to Family Unit) In the first section, you are the applicant and fill it out with your maiden name.  The date of change is whatever date you are filling out the form.  Check off Spouse should be added and reason for change is Marriage.  Fill out children information if applicable to you, then address and if you want a new card (of course you want a new card with your shiny new name on it!) and jump to Section F.  This is where you put in your name change.  Previous name will be your maiden name and then New name is your married name.  Reason for name change again, Marriage.  Sign and date the form (both you and your hubby) and you are done!  Print and mail away the form and wait for your new card with your new name to show up! (It took forever to get the new card)

Step 8: It made sense to me to change my name on my health insurance card through Group Medical Services after I filed the Health Card change, and this one was as simple as faxing them a copy of my marriage certificate with an attached note saying "Please change my name on my card, I got hitched". I can't say if it would be this easy through other insurance companies, but this was pretty simple.

Step 9: While we are talking health and medical, it makes sense to change your name on the file at your family Doctor's office as well as Dentists or any other Health Professionals you may have been seeing.

Step 10:  Bank Accounts.  This usually requires an in-person meeting at your branch with the original marriage certificate, or an updated copy of your driver's license and new health card (with your new name obviously) but of course every bank and/or Credit Union is different.  Don't forget at the same time to change any loans/mortgage documents, RESPs and/or RRSPs.  I should also include Credit Cards in this group, but since the only one I have is through my Credit Union, I'm all set so I can't tell you what you may need to change those.

Step 11:  Utilities and other bills.  For me this includes things like SaskTel, SaskEnergy, SaskPower, Bell, Shaw, and Wawanesa.  A simple phone call was all it took for all of these for me.

Step 12: Employment Records.  Make sure you have your boss (or HR person/payroll department/whoever is in charge of these things at your place of employment) change your name on all your work related documents.  They may or may not want proof of name change.

Step 13: I know people that have gone through many years of marriage without doing it, but you really should change your name on your Social Insurance Number.  If you don't, you may not be able to keep up with your credit rating and your 'old' name may be getting dragged through the mud.  Also related to this and you can probably do it in the same stop at the Service Canada center closest to you, is to update your passport.  Keep in mind, you will need new photos with you if you are doing this.  You will need your original marriage certificate as well.  It isn't necessary to update your passport immediately if you are not planning to travel anytime in the near future though.  I have heard rumors of them changing over to a passport that will be good for 10 yrs sometime this summer, so I am holding off until then.

Step 14: I am in the process of finding out what is needed to update my voter registration card right now.  Although I am sure it will be something as simple as filing my tax return in my new name.

Step Whenever: The stuff I may or may not get around to anytime soon; my 9000 rewards cards for various stores.  Any that I can change online I probably will, but otherwise, they aren't doing any harm having a different name on them.I may update anything else I have found to be especially confusing or hassle filled as I stumble across it as well.

Hope this helps with the confusion, and Congrats on tying the knot! :)

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Check Your Batteries!

We live next door to a seemingly nice family.  I say that because they rarely leave their house and the kids don't just play outside, and the dad only leaves to go to work and come home.  I never seem to catch them when they are outside, but when after 4 days what I am certain was their smoke alarm beeping saying the battery was dying it started to drive me crazy.  I could hear it in my kitchen with the windows closed and running our super loud dishwasher!  I don't know how people can live with that constant every 30 seconds beeping!  I would lose my mind after 4 minutes, not 4 days!  Now, this is the kind of neighbor we aren't exactly friendly with, they keep to themselves and I don't want to seem like that nosy neighbor so I left well enough alone thinking the problem would eventually solve itself.  It didn't.  So, I took matters into my own hands.  I stuck this note in an envelope in their mailbox.  The next morning the beeping stopped.

This did however remind me that it is the time of year to check all my smoke alarm batteries and carbon monoxide detectors as well.  Have you checked yours?  If you don't, you might end up with this note in your mailbox too! ;)

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Peanut Chocolate Crisps

Recipe time! No bake too!

I have recently had some terrible luck with recipes I have found online. Some tasted horrible and some looked nothing like the pictures.  I was feeling very discouraged so it was time to go back to one of my tried and true faves; Peanut Chocolate Crisps!  I'm not sure where I got this recipe but I know I have changed it up from the original version I started with years ago.  Here is the recipe as it stands right now. Enjoy!

Peanut Chocolate Crisps

1/2 c. margarine
1 c. Semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 c. Kraft smooth peanut butter
1 bag (aprox. 40) large marshmallows
1 c. Roasted unsalted peanuts (halved)
6 c. Rice krispies cereal

Melt margarine, peanut butter and marshmallows in a pot over medium heat stirring continually.  When marshmallows are almost completely melted, add the chocolate chips and stir until they are melted.  Add the peanuts and rice krispies and stir until well blended.  Press into a greased 9x13 pan.  Let set until cool before cutting.  I suggest fairly small pieces as it is pretty rich.

If you wish you can coat them with a icing of sorts, I like using a mix of 1 c. Semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 tbsp. Peanut butter melted and spread over the top. It will remain soft enough to cut through without dripping all over.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Dresser Revamp!

My grandparents finally decided it was time to sell the farm this summer.  It was  bittersweet.  I love the place, but it became hard to justify keeping it anymore.  The farm had been in the family for over 100 years so it has been accumulating TONS of stuff and crap.  And when I say stuff and crap I really mean mostly crap and junk.  There were boxes upon boxes upon boxes of ridiculous things like hundreds of bread tags and milk caps.  People really used to save EVERYTHING way back when!  I guess I might too if I had an entire farm worth of buildings to fill up!

Anyhow, my favorite find while going through things and cleaning up for sale, were of course my grandmother's hats!  I love hats! They make me happy and I wish more people would start wearing them so I wouldn't feel so ridiculous wearing mine!  I will share pictures of those after my wedding since I will be wearing one I revamped for it.

Right now my 2nd favorite find is a fabulous dresser that they have had for as long as I can remember.  I snagged that baby and my parents snagged its companion.  I loved the dresser itself, but I hated the color and the handles.  It may have taken me 49 hours of sanding, stripping, staining and varnishing (not to mention the hunt for new handles that were for a hole spacing that was no longer standard)  and I have a new dresser for my bedroom which I absolutely ADORE!!  It is complete with a false top drawer that actually flips open and houses my satellite dish receiver!  Boy, who knew adjusting hinges and installing a lid stay would be so tricky!  I do now!

not bad, but not great before

had to fill in one hole for each handle as best I could since I didn't realize the hole spacing problem until after it was all refinished.  Oops!

the lid stay didn't come with instructions so I had to wing it.  Ended up drilling 3 sets of holes before I managed to get it in the right place so it would do what it was supposed to!


Handy hints Part 1 (There may or may not be a Part 2 at a later date)

I am a big fan of tips and tricks that make my life easier.  I want to share some that I have used recently.

First off; Bobby pins.

I know you are probably thinking what tip there could possibly be to make them stay in your hair.  well, turns out I have been using them wrong all these years.  You know the bumpy side, right?  Yeah that side you always put up and often has decorative embellishments.  Turns out you can make a bobby pin stay put ALL DAY LONG if you put the bumpy side down!  Life changing I tell ya!  I figured that one out by accident early this past summer and will never wear a bobby pin the other way ever again!

Second; Bathtub grime cleaning.

 I hate my bathtub.  It is made of some kind of acrylic that is a soap scum magnet.  It looks filthy disgusting 3 days after a deep scrub.  And when I say filthy, I mean like a grease monkey showered with a dog and a slimy snail.  Not pretty.  I was out of my usual cleaner the other day and I was so beyond disgusted by my tub I had to try something different.  This is where Dawn dish soap comes in.  Yep.  Dawn dish soap!  A hearty squirt in hot hot water in the bottom of the tub, a scrubbing sponge and some hot water and
6 minutes later I had a sparkling clean bathtub!  Amazement is the word that best describes this!  I no longer dread scrubbing the tub!

Third; Stinky Towels.

You know that strange stale smell that towels seem to get after a while? That almost but not quite mildewy smell?  Yeah it sucks.  You know your towels are clean but they still smell funky.  It happens.  To make it go away, just throw in 1/4 cup of baking soda into your wash load.  Makes a huge difference!  No need to do this every time though, just once every dozen or so times you wash em.

Fourth; Strawberries

Yep. Strawberries.  We eat a ton of them in our house!  I always feel so guilty cutting the top off and losing so much of the fruit when you take the greenery off.  Well, I have heard rumors that using a straw to remove the core works I tried it.  I'm hooked!  You just shove a straw right up through the whole strawberry (trying to go as straight as possible) and push that stem right out the top!  Holy time saver, Batman!  Less waste of both fruit and my time!

Core a strawberry with a straw!

I love a good sale!

I won't lie, I love shopping.  I usually try and come up with a good reason for shopping for a specific item before I go, and the reason this time was that we have an upcoming warm-ish weather vacation and my son only had 3 pairs of shorts that still fit him from last year.  We managed to snag some super adventuring shorts at Costco, but then I remembered Old Navy was having their big Baby and Kid sale!  Everything in the kids' department was 40% off, so of course I had to go check it out!

I have been seeing posts on the Old Navy Facebook page from Mommy Bloggers talking about what a great deal they got on some great outfits during this sale, but I really didn't see it as that great of a deal most of the time.  One woman mentioned getting 8 pieces for $75, which is not bad, but it certainly isn't incredible when I know you can find some great things in the clearance department and get the extra 40% off there too!

I went with the goal of getting just things for my son, but of course I stumbled across 2 shirts that I have had my eye on that were now in the clearance department!  Score!

For a grand total of $32.99 we got 1 pr of boys' chinos in a fantastic blue, 2 pairs of boys' fleece pants (so cozy!), a boys' fleece half zip, a skull covered boys' t-shirt, a ladies' sequin tank, and a ladies' ruffle long sleeve top.  (and 2 drinks because man they keep that store HOT!)  I still can't believe some things rang through at $1.26!! Un-freakin-real! Of course now that I am home and looking over my purchases, I wish I had grabbed a few more things!  Oh well, the best part about Old Navy is hitting up random sales and continually being surprised what you can get for an amazing price!