Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Everyday Housewife Outfit

One of the questions I get the most is:
"What do you wear?"
I think that because I'm a housewife/blogger and I spend most of my days at home I get a few inquiring emails about whether or not I spend my days in my Pajamas, or if I live in sweats.
I can assure you I do neither of those things. It's true I probably spend more time at home than the average human, but I do leave the house frequently to run errands, meet a friends for lunch, grocery shop etc.
On a day that I'm writing posts . . . taking pictures . . .  editing pictures, organizing cupboards, baking cupcakes, or just generally hanging out at home, you could come over and find me in jeans and a t-shirt, leggings and a long sweater, yoga pants and a long sleeved top. It's basic, but I always get dressed . . . I live in constant fear of the un-announced drop in so I always make sure to get dressed. I also feel WAY more productive when I look nice.
So what would I wear to grocery shop or lunch with friends, or to go to an appointment . . . would be something like this:
I would spend the morning at home in my leggings and sweater, pull the sweater off, throw on a jean jacket, a long scarf and a pair of leather boots!
Jacket: Old Navy; Scarf: Target; Boots: (Bought years ago from Target); Braclet: The Bay;
I definitely wouldn't consider myself a "fashionista", if it's comfortable, and looks nice I'll buy it and wear it! ;)
I think that because I'm a "housewife" people can make the assumption that I would be a very girlie, girl with my puffy dresses and pearls. But since I don't live in a 50's sitcom, I leave the pearls at home ;).
My Clothing philosophy can be summed up in:
1) Functional- so I can work in it.
2) Comfortable- so I don't go crazy in it.
3) Attractive - so I'm not embarrassed to wear it.
4) BANGS- If you have an above average forehead the only answer is BANGS! ;)

I would LOVE to hear about your day to day outfits! I think we get too caught up in talking about the special occasions clothes, but I would love to start talking about everyday clothes!
We're wishing everyone a Happy and Safe Halloween! And our prayers and well wishes to those of you on the East Coast dealing with 'Sandy'.
I hope you'll pop back tomorrow for our latest decluttering adventure. I have a list, complete with pictures of everything we've decided to "let go".

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Outside

You may keep you're skeletons in the closet but we keep ours outside ;). haha It probably won't grace the covers of Better Homes and Gardens, but we had the best time decorating for halloween this year!! We went with a skeleton theme!
We finally finished the outside of our house, and we'll hope we'll have lots of customers for our "DEAD and Breakfast"

We have some seriously eager customers who can't wait for the grand opening, they're trying to break in through the windows!
Some are hanging out on our front porch . . . and some are coming out of the ground!
We are so excited for Halloween Night, if last year is any indication of this year we're expecting just over 400 trick or treaters (I'm seriously last year we ran out of candy after 400 kids). Our block will have a DJ, a very spooky haunted house, a Tim Hortons truck giving out free hot chocolate and coffee, a smoke canon, and a BIG PARTY!!! To see all of our photos from Saturdays Party, check out our facebook page for all of the gruesome details.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Princess and a Witch walk into a bar . . .

A Princess and a Witch walk into a bar . . . .
They weren't watching where they were going, walked into eachother and their outfits got all tangled and mixed up and My halloween costume is the result of their collision!
That sentence made more sense in my head. What I'm trying to say is . . . my costume looks like I couldn't decide between a witch and a princess so I made a "Witch-cess" errrr . . . a "Prin-tch" . . . errrrr. . . and evil princess! Yeah!

I know I promised a sneak peek at our Outside Decorations for Halloween, but they're not finished yet! Looks like we'll be sending a rare weekend post your way. Make sure to check back this Saturday or Sunday! :)

I thought, instead, I would share my Costume for this weekends party . . . I made it myself!
It's kind of like a Princess and a Witch hybrid (and we all know hybrids are all the rage these days, well at least hybrid cars ;).
The skirt was really easy to make, I just bought a TON of fabric. About 10 yards of tulle, and about 4 yards of organza. Luckily our local fabric store (Fabricland) had a discount on tulle, 50% off for members, so I was able to get all the tulle for $2 a yard, and the organza was $3 a yard. I assembled the skirt kind of like a Long, Puffy, Apron, open at the back, but when it's cinched closed it looks like a real skirt.  Total Cost: $35!
For the sash I just picked up some satin quilt binding! It's already folded in half and all I had to do was:
1. Cut the tulle into long strips (long enough to hit the floor) the stripes were about 5" wide.
2. Open the satin binding, bunch the fabric, pin it and sew a straight-ish line!
3. Bunch more pieces of tulle and sew on top of the other bunches.
4. Once you've finished sewing in bunches of tulle and organza, fold the other half of the quilt binding over, sew it together and you have a skirt! 

It was so easy, and I LOVE IT!!!! For the top I just used a sequin tank top I had kicking around in the back of my closet!
I feel like an evil princess . . . with cute shoes ;).
 I'm ready to kick up my heels and party this weekend:
If you're dressing up this weekend I'd LOVE to know what you're going as . . . and if you're wearing cute shoes too! ;)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Worst Dinner Party Ever.

So we invited a couple over for dinner . . . and let me tell you, it was the worst dinner party ever.
It was awful! They didn't talk at all, I totally had to carry the conversation all night.
They barely ate anything . . . and at one point they called us fat! Seriously . . . the nerve! ;) 
The last straw was when he started to smoke a cigar at the dinner table!! Geez! 
All joking aside we are having a dinner party THIS weekend so I set the table in a spooky fashion, our current dinner guests will soon be outside on our front lawn for Halloween night!

I picked up some black fabric for $2 a yard, I needed a yard and a half to do the two black runners. If you can sew a straight line (or even a moderately straight line) you can sew a table runner.
The patterned black fabric on top was part of Lee's Halloween costume last year (it was a cape), he didn't need it this year so I cut it up and sewed two more table runners to layer on top.
We didn't have any napkins with a Halloween vibe so I knew I would have to make a set (and I knew our local fabric store had a sale on Halloween themed fabric). I thought about doing orange but it seemed too . . . expected. So I went with a spooky, kind of yellowy-neon green color with some spooky spiders and spider webs.
Some white plates to pop against the black runners, and some creepy crawly bugs (big pack from Walmart $3).
A bouquet inspired by All Hallows Eve. I chose some dark purple alstroemeria. mixed them with some orange Gerbers, and some bright green button mums. I love the combinations of dark purple, orange, and green, I find it really fresh, but still very "fall". :)
A little skull statue, a la Lee!
And lastly a feather wreath (Walmart $14.99). I bought this wreath for the front door, but we get such gusty winds our here, it kept blowing off and rolling down the street. So we brought it in, used a command hook and hung it on the barn door. I think it's my favorite part!
So, in conclusion,  I don't want to discriminate but if you're having a dinner party I would leave Skeletons off the guest list . . . they are no fun at all! ;)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's getting Spooky in the Living Room

It's getting darn right spooky around here! As per usual, Lee has taken over outside Halloween duties and I've been taking care of inside Halloween duties! Honestly I'm usually the one in charge of decorating, but Halloween is where Lee really shines! Lee's like the 'rain man' of Halloween. He can turn spray foam window insulation into bloody limbs, and tissue paper into creepy veins. It's a creepy talent, but a talent none the less. We'll have a creepy crawly outside post on Friday for you, but today it's the kinder, more PG version of Halloween, aka. Ashli's Version 2.0 (I don't know why I wrote 2.0, but I think it makes it sound cooler).

I started in the living room, a few skulls in a cloche  some scary books . . . okay they're not scary they're just black! But if you squint at the titles and they go all blurry they would look scary . . . because the books are black. . . my logic is flawless, you can't deny it.  ;)
I love skulls under glass . . . it's my favorite Halloween decoration . . . it's like the Christmas tree of Halloween!
As I described earlier . . .  scary books and some teeny tiny mice ($2 for a bag of 12 from Walmart).
And this is a new Halloween MUST DO . . . we bought a bag of creepy crawlies from Walmart for $3 it was full of everything from your worst nightmares. I taped up a creepy crawly spider inside the lamp shade and when it's turned on it's truly spooky.
Next a little mantle decor, Randy sits beside the Candles (Randy the Raven, FYI).
A little bit of fabric trim from Jo Ann fabrics wrapped around some simple white candles makes them spooky-ish.
Beside the TV I popped a couple of "real" scary books. I found them at Dollar Tree for $1.25 each. I've never read them, they live in the Halloween decoration box, but honestly they are one of my favorite Halloween decorations!
Lee's contribution to the living room scheme . . . a Styrofoam skull.
And lastly,  an understated coffee table . . . a white warped bowl (from Urban Barn) some black candle sticks and a stack of Fall Decorating Magazines (petrifying I know!). 

Come back tomorrow so I can tell you all about the WORST DINNER PARTY EVER, I threw it last week! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Three Ikea Chairs = A Bench!

This little Ikea hack was so easy I couldn't resist sharing it with you!
I made a new years resolution at the start of 2012 to get more involved in our community. The perfect chance presented itself in the form of a Chairs for Charity auction supporting the Langley Christmas Bureau. Local shops, craftsmen and bloggers are creating chairs to be auctioned off. We might have bent the rules a little bit and created a bench instead of a chair, but the bench is made out of chairs and when we dropped it off yesterday they said it was just fine . . . phew!

Our contribution was suppose to represent our business/blog style and since our business/blog is all about us, we created a bench that suited our style. And what's more Ashli and Lee than rustic wood, paired with metal, clean lines, a little bit of whimsy and re-purposing Ikea!!!! This bench couldn't be more us, if you were sitting in our laps! ;)
I found 6 Ikea Granas Chairs on Craigslist for $50, they were so easy to find, I literally found 100's for sale on there!
We bought 3, 12 foot boards (6"x1"), and a small container of Gel Stain.
It really couldn't be easier:
First: We removed the woven seats that came with the chairs.
Second: Cut the boards to size, and stained them.
Last: Screwed the boards to the chair using the existing holes from the seats.

As a final touch we added a bit of whimsy in the form of a little "SIT." stencil! I felt like the bench needed a little . . . more. And we're all about whimsy so I went for it and stenciled on a little instruction in case people weren't sure how to use our little bench! ;)
I have to tell you, the stencil was a last minute decision and it was very nerve racking painting onto our perfectly stained boards, but I am so glad we did it!!!! I think it makes the bench!
The last thing we struggled with was whether or not to add a shelf to the bottom of the bench. The way granas chairs are made, with the bar along the bottom, it would make it really easy to add a shelf underneath for shoes or baskets. The shelf underneath would turn the bench into the perfect hallway seat. Somewhere to take your shoes off and store them under! We decided to leave off the bottom shelf so that you could use the bench in the dining room or in the front hall. 
So if you're in the market for a new dining bench, hall bench, porch bench or just somewhere to sit your bum down, our bench will be auctioned off this Thursday Night at  The Passionate Home here in Langley, BC.
In case you were wondering what we're doing with the other 3 chairs . . . we're making a bench of our very own!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Fish Tacos

I try to work fish into our meal plans at least once a week, some weeks we do really well and eat fish three even four times a week, and sometimes we don't do as well.
But currently we have a freezer bursting at the seams with Fish. My dad had a very successful "Salmon September" as we like to call it and we ordered a box of halibut steaks from a local fish monger (I actually giggled when I wrote 'monger' haha).
Here is one of our favorite fish recipes. You can use Tilapia, or Cod, or really any white fish.
Fish Taco: 
1 lb (454 g) tilapia fillets or catfish fillets        
1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil                            
1 tsp (5 mL) chili powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried oregano
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper 

Mix all the ingredients together and let sit a couple minutes. Then fry up in a pan until fish is cooked. Remember Fish cooks fast! 

Flour Tortillas 

1 Red pepper
1 Green pepper
1 Onion
Cut into stripes, and saute in the pan with oil. 

1 Avocado
1/8 cup diced red onion
1 jalapeno
Juice of half a lime
Salt and Pepper
Mash all ingredients together in a bowl, you're making a very basic guacamole.
 
Salsa
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Sour Cream

This recipe is so simple but so yummy and very healthy! 

I hope you'll come back tomorrow, I'm so excited to show you our latest DIY/Ikea Hack/ Charity Auction Donation. We've been working hard on a donation to a local charity auction hosted by one of my favorite local stores The Passionate Home! I can't wait to share!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Dinner Party!

Last week we had a small little 4 person dinner party, some vegetarian lasagna, salad, zucchini cakes and flourless chocolate cake.
(please ignore the small pink pig in the bottom left corner of the picture, Max drags that toy all over the house it's become a staple, I don't even notice it's there anymore). 
We already had the pretty sunflowers from last weeks flowers on Friday post.
I added some very neutral plates from Kmart, some slanted Asian bowls from Homesense, some napkins I sewed myself and two table runners from a recent Zellers Clearance sale ($2 each!).
And lastly, my favorite bottle of wine. I am definitely the farthest thing from a wine connoisseur but I really do love this one it's called "The Show" and like any good bottle of fine wine you can find it at Target for just over $11!  ;)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mmmmmm . . . Brains!

*Warning . . . if this post makes you hungry . . . you might be a Zombie!

This weekend we started a new tradition . . . Zombie Paintball! By we I mean Lee! We hosted a zombie themed birthday party for a friend of ours. It involved Zombie Paintball. The boys and a couple girls who are braver than myself, trek into the woods with paintball guns to be attacked by padded zombies. I wanted no part of the real zombie action but I did make a cake that satisfied not only the friends who made it back human, but also the friends who came back as zombies! 
It wasn't too difficult at all. We used red velvet cake for inside. I baked two 6" round cakes, popped one on top of the other with some vanilla icing in between. Lee shaped it into a brain shape. He just used a serrated knife and shaped the cake (tip: if you chill the cake in the fridge for a few hours it's easier to shape). Lastly, I slathered vanilla icing all over the top and covered it in strands of pink fondant.
I rolled small pieces of fondant (pink Wilton fondant from Michaels) into long strands and then coiled them all over the cake. I had no rhyme or reason I just made sure to make keep the left side and the right side of the brain separate.
My recipe for BLOOD! 
1 cup Corn Syrup
1-2 tbsp coco powder
red food coloring (as much as you'd like).
If it's too bright try adding a tiny bit of blue food coloring.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Project 13: Max's Rescue Story

Serena from Pretty Fluffy, started a wonderful cause, it's called Project 13! 13 things we can do to help shelter or rescue animals.
This is a cause especially close to our hearts as our little Max is a rescue. We adopted Max when he was just over 3 years old. He had been a puppy mill stud dog. His coat was terribly matted, his paws were sore from walking on wire for his entire 3 years. His first day out of the mill, he found himself at the vet, getting a huge umbilical hernia fixed (a big lump coming out of his stomach), 13 teeth removed because they had rotted, a big dose of antibiotics for the cuts and scraps and he was also neutered. Some of his ribs are fractured, and his front legs bow out like a bulldog (our vet has the theory that he was crushed at one point in his life).
Surprisingly he was still very friendly . . . to me! When it came to men (including Lee) he was very unsure. Once in the beginning Lee had raised his voice at the TV and Max just started peeing, he was so scared. That was the first moment we realized how 'damaged' he was.
To be fully honest I wasn't prepared for the challenges that came with adopting a rescue. Because he had lived in a crate since he was 8 weeks old he had never learnt to hold his pee. He would pee on everything and anything. He peed on the leg of the couch, the leg of each dining chair, the bed frame leg, the dining table legs, the coffee table, the console table everything. Slowly but surely we taught him to ask to go out, and I guess he felt he had sufficiently peed on everything in the house :). We still weren't able to leave stuff out of place, seriously you couldn't put a bag of groceries on the floor without him feeling the need to "claim" it, once Lee left his runners out and Max let him know that they weren't suppose to be there with a shoe full of pee, that might be why we're pretty good at putting our stuff away now! haha

Another thing we had noticed was that he had NO idea what toys were. We would buy him cute little dog toys and he wouldn't even touch them. He never ran (unless he was scared), and he never played. 

Another issue was eating, he wouldn't take food from us. We would have to walk away from him while he ate and he would very tentatively pick at his food. Clearly he has gotten over that issue:
And his last big issue was some SERIOUS separation anxiety! He would scream when left him, have diarrhea, pee, the whole nine yards.

Slowly but surely he got better, he stopped peeing in the house about 6 months after we got him, he stopped being scared at loud voices about a year after that (although he still hates it if Lee raises his arms into the air, seriously he jumps up and barks at him until he puts them back down). He's now obsessed with toys, and will steal food right out of your mouth if you're not looking. And very slowly his separation anxiety went away, once he realized that we'd always come back he stopping being upset!
Max brought out the best in both of us. I found patience I never knew I had. 7 years later he's a dream dog minus his all consuming hatred of big black dogs (I'll explain that in another post). And through all the challenges I would do it again in a heartbeat with out hesitation! It's almost selfish. I see him snuggled in front of the fire, or eating his birthday cupcake and I think of how far he's come and how lucky we all are to have found each other!
I realize that not everyone is able to adopt a rescue right now (we aren't in a position to do it again right now) but there are still  lots of things that you can do to help the cause. Here's 13 of mine:
  1. Donate old towels, and sheets to our local shelter. 
  2. Donate old toys to local rescue groups for other small dogs like the rescue group we adopted Max from: Little Paws Rescue.
  3. Donate time to take photos of shelter dogs. Sometimes the difference between getting adopted and getting euthanized is a good photo. 
  4. Buy a Puppy Mills Bite T-shirt from The Fleas Knees Tees.
  5. Instead of Christmas Cards, save that money, send out Christmas Emails and donate the money saved to a local shelter. 
  6. Promote Project 13! ;)
  7. Share profiles of adoptable animals on facebook. You never know when a photo will result in a forever home. 
  8. Take part in more adoption events at Petsmart and Bosley's. 
  9. Continue to donate to Little Paws Silent Auctions and fundraising events. 
  10. Never Ever shop at stores that sell puppies or Kittens! NEVER EVER! Not even to pick up a toy, not even to spend a penny.
  11. Consider fostering another dog. A few years ago we fostered the sweetest wire haired chihuahua named Chewy. We fell so madly in love with him it broke our hearts. We still talk about him at least once a week! We said we couldn't do it again, but time heals all wounds and we're thinking that for short term fosters we might be able to do it! 
  12. Consider fostering a Bird. Dogs aren't the only animals that need help! We adopted our Canary, Carson, from Greyhaven Bird rescue when he was just a little chickadee. Greyhaven receives many many birds that need foster homes. We could definitely do that!  
  13. Lastly, share Max's story! I will always consider Max a huge success story! He overcame so   much to become the amazing dog he is today and I know that when he passes I will have no regrets about his final years with us. 
Remember small acts done with great love can change the world!

*if you decide to do your own 13 list feel free to link up to Pretty Fluffy's Link Party

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

You can buy happiness and it's cheap!

I'm so excited to share my new favorite book with you today! It's Called "You can buy happiness (and it's cheap): How one woman radically simplified her life and how you can too."
It's written by Tammy Strobel, author of one of my favorite blogs Rowdy Kittens.
Tammy and her husband have transitioned from a large two bedroom apartment in 2004 to the 128 square foot home the currently live in!!!
If you're wondering what a 128 square foot home looks like here's a video tour of their tiny abode:
 
I found so much inspiration in Tammy's book! I wasn't expecting to find so much inspiration from someone who lives in 128 square feet (to be honest my first response was "why would anyone want to live in only 128 square feet?"). But what I loved about the book was that Tammy was careful to offer advice not only to the "small living movement" folks but to the people looking for "right size" living! So whatever the "right size" is for you!

I've always flip flopped in the world of simple living. I see beautiful photos of prop closets from BHG magazine and Martha Stewart's Magazine! All the beautiful, colorful bowls and pretty cakes plates tempt me to the mall!!! On the other hand I think how amazing it would be to live with just the necessities, a couple pots and pans, 1 spoon, only clothes I wear regularly, things like that!

I think my idea of perfect living rests somewhere between, more than we need, and less than we want! The real work will be in deciding what's less than we want, but after about half way into the book I cleared out a bag of clothes from my closet! And I have some big plans to do some more downsizing (of course as soon as they're done we'll be blogging them, but a hint would be, more closet clearing, some kitchen downsizing, Lee's closet is getting a overhaul, and so is the garage!). Seriously I'm THAT inspired!

If you're looking for some inspiration to downsize, or just some inspiration to clean out your closet, this cheerful little handbook is more than worth the $9.38 on Amazon!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Best Blueberry Muffin Recipe

While I feel slightly uncomfortable declaring something "The Worlds Best" when it technically hasn't won any titles, and I haven't tired every blueberry muffin in the world so I don't really know. But I do feel fairly confident in stating that this is at least in the top 10 best blueberry muffins in the world! ;)
This is the muffin you make when you have out of town guests and they're staying the night! This is the recipe you choose when your mother-in-law visits! These are the wife of the year, bonus points, extra credit Blueberry Muffins!
It's a three part recipe, first you make the batter with the blueberries, then you stir in a blue berry paste, and lastly you top with the streusel topping! Bake and you're done. 
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. You don't need your mixer for this you can definitely just use some elbow grease and a wooden spoon!  Make sure to mix in the blueberries last and just fold them in gently! 
Blueberry Muffin: 
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/8 cups Sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup 2% milk                  
3/4 cup Greek Yogurt  
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pop some cupcake liners into a muffin tin. Drop a big spoonful of batter into each liner. 
Stir in topping: 
1/2 cup Blueberries
1 tbsp water
1 tsp Sugar

Throw a half cup of blueberries into a small pot, turn the pot on high and add the water and sugar, stirring frequently. Smoosh the blueberries with the back of a spoon in the pot. You're trying to make a wet jamy like topping.
Drop a big dollup on top of each muffin:
Then stir in a bit, we use a wooden skewer, you just want to spread it around the top a bit!
Lumpy Sugary Streusal topping: (aka. The Best Part)
4 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp white sugar
1/2 cup flour
5 tbsp melted butter

In a bowl, mix together ingredients. It should form a big lump (add more flour if it needs it, the mixture texture should be kind of like pie dough). Break up the mixture between your fingers so it's nice and crumbly!!! Crumble all over the top of each muffin!

Bake at 375degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. If your oven runs hot, 15 should be enough, if it runs cool it might need 20 min. Keep an eye on them, if you stick a skewer in the middle and it comes out clean, they're DONE!
This recipe makes about 24 muffins! And they really are worth the extra effort! I Promise!!!! 

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