Friday, March 29, 2013

10 Years Strong

Yesterday Lee and I celebrated 10 years together. On March 28th ten years ago, Lee sheepishly asked if it would be alright if he called me . . . 10 years later here we are!
Together we have been through a lot over the past 10 years. So much good, a bit of not so good and a touch of unbearably painful. What I can say without a doubt is that the lows were livable because of Lee, all of the highs were higher because of Lee and my life is infinitely better because of him!

We celebrated by going out for breakfast (there is something amazing about having breakfast cooked for you). Then we met my sister at the park and took the dogs for a walk. She brought her camera and we were able to document what 10 years looks like. 
Apparently 10 years looks like someone is afraid of snakes in the tall grass!

It's a bit weird to think I have now spent more than a third of my life with Lee. WOW!

Here's to the next decade together . . . I have a feeling it's going to be the best one yet :) 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Needlepoint Love

Overnight I have turned into a granny. I love needlepoint and embroidery. I find it insanely relaxing. I started simple with some tea towels.
I think it might be the organizer in me but I love the idea of one tea towel a day, clearly marked with the day on it! Monday through Sunday!
 It was really easy, you'll need ink transfer paper (you can find it here or at Michaels), some tea towels (ours are from Zellers), a needle and some thread.
I chose a font one the computer and wrote out the days of the week . . . printed it out on the computer, and using the ink transfer paper, traced out the words on to the towels.

If you wanted you could use a fabric pen from any craft store, and just write the words on to your towels.

Then, pick your thread color and embroider away. There are lots of How To Embroider instructions around the Internet so I'll save you mine (this tutorial was really great).
It was all going so well until we got to Wednesday. Darn Wednesday! I was in a bit of a fog or possibly drunk (haha just kidding, of course), and I spelled Wednesday wrong. Not only did I spell it wrong once, which might be kind of excusable, but I printed it out wrong, read it again, traced it onto a tea towel, read it on the tea towel, then spent 30 minutes embroidering it into said tea towel, then looked at the finished product and thought "That's great, Wednesday's done". It wasn't until a week later when I went to pull Wednesday's towel and thought, "Hmmmmm . . . that doesn't look right". Hahaha
I phoned my mom to tell her how they should have sent me to better schools because I am 29 and can't spell Wednesday. ;) She said that she thought the fact that Wednesday was spelt wrong was charming. I totally agree, I kind of like that Wednesday is spelt Wensday, it's stupidly quirky! haha

It really was easy to do . . . especially if you can spell properly. I really hope you'll consider trying a little embroidery of your own.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Is it a kettle, is it a tea pot???

I will set the scene . . . . it's a snowy winter's eve. Lee and I are in bed, the kitchen is empty except for the tea pot and an electric kettle. They light the flame on the gas stove, casting a beautiful glow across the room. The tea pot thought the kettle was hot ;), and the kettle liked the way the tea pot warmed up to him ;). Steam filled the room. One thing led to another and 4 months later (a tea pot's gestation period is 4 months apparently) they were the proud parents of our new Electric Kettle! 

Unfortunately it was a rough delivery for the tea pot :( 
Image via

I am hoping you surmised that our new kettle is half tea pot and half kettle. Except that it doesn't make tea . . . it only inherited the ceramic-ness from it's tea pot mother, other than that it got all of it's traits from his dad (the kettle).

I'll stop talking in code now. (I think I hear a collective sigh ;)

We picked up an electric kettle from Target (here is the Link). For the last 3 years we've been heating water for our tea in a pot on the stove. We decided it was time to come out of the dark ages and pick up an electric kettle. I wanted one that was attractive. Lee wanted to make sure it could be removed from the base. Wandering through Target I found exactly what we were looking for. I loved the blue pattern which matches our tea cup measuring scoops inside our flour and sugar jars. But mostly I loved that it was ceramic and felt just like a tea pot!
We LOVE tea. I am a peppermint tea girl and Lee is a green tea guy so beside our electric kettle we set up a little tea station. I found the 3 glass jars at Homesense and filled them with three different kinds of Tea, loose leaf green tea, organic peppermint tea bag, and green tea bags for tea on the go.
Lastly I have always loved hanging coffee mugs. If you use a mug everyday it kind of makes sense to have them out and within close reach. Especially when they have cute little numbers on them like this set of four from Urban Barn, or our initial mugs from Chapters. ;)
6 cup hooks from Lowes and we had our very own tea station. I made sure that the hooks were white so that they would blend into the white mug handles, and I didn't want to see the hooks while I was standing in the kitchen.
It's the age old story, tea pot . . .  meets . . .  electric kettle and Target sells their babies (that sentence was much creepier than I thought it would be).

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Charles Emerson Giveaway

 This Giveaway is now Closed, Thank you to everyone who entered! 

We have an AMAZING giveaway for you today! Happy Tuesday! :)

Charles Emerson Designs is giving away, to one lucky reader, a $50 gift certificate to their store. You can buy whatever you want with it . . . necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, or other accessories.

Charles Emerson Designs has some beautiful jewelry, I am head over heels for their necklaces and bracelets. Here are a selection of some of my favorite ones:
But I am a HUGE earring girl so I was completely smitten by some of their earring choices:
Beautiful right?? . . . but I am so excited to tell you the prices because they are amazingly priced! Both necklaces are under $20, the bracelets were around $15 each, and the earrings were around $16 dollars . . . the small green ones are only $7!!!!
With a $50 gift certificate you could get tons of goodies!!!

Here's the Details
To Enter: Visit Charles Emerson Designs, comeback and let us know what your favorite piece of jewelry is!
Bonus Entry: Comment Below, the piece of jewelry you won't leave the house without wearing.

Prize: One $50 Gift Certificate to Charles Emerson Designs!!!
Open to: Worldwide
Contest Closes: Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 at 11:59pm PST.


Good Luck!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Barefoot Contessa Wrap Up

We had a great Barefoot Contessa week last week. I made at least one Barefoot Contessa recipe each day . . .
  • We made her Roasted Shrimp Cocktail from her Back to Basics Cookbook (pg.38). I will never again boil shrimp. Roasting shrimp in the oven is so easy, 400 degree oven, sheet pan, a little salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, 5 minutes and you have perfectly cooked shrimp! We also followed her cocktail sauce recipe and it was delicious! Roasting shrimp is definitely the way to go! 
  • I made her Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette recipe with a green salad . . . It's from her Family Style Cookbook (pg.42). MAKE THIS DRESSING!!! It calls for a raw egg yolk which I was a little leery of . . . but it was so delicious. This will definitely be a staple in our house! 
  •  From her How Easy is That? Cookbook, I made her Ricotta Cheese! It was so much fun to make I will share the whole process later this week! I made the Ricotta for our Vegetarian Lasagna recipe, it was really yummy and easy to make.
  • A few of you (our readers) suggested Ina's Lemon Chicken . . . it did not disappoint. It was delicious! It was really great the next day cold, chopped up in a salad! 
  • From Foolproof Cookbook we made Straw and Hay with Gorgonzola . . . turns out I don't like gorgonzola cheese. So this recipe was a bust for me, Lee wasn't thrilled with it either. If you like gorgonzola cheese maybe this will be more to your taste. 
  • Lastly, and our favorite recipe we made Roasted Shrimp and Orzo. You would have to like dill and lemon . . . errrrrr and shrimp, but if you do like those things this recipe makes a great lunch!!! 
Kosher salt
Good olive oil
3/4 pound orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds (16 to 18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
1 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
1/2 cup small-diced red onion 
1 red pepper
3/4 pound good feta cheese, large diced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and a splash of oil, and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it's cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.

Meanwhile, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don't overcook!

Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving.

I thought an entire week of Barefoot Contessa recipes would be enough . . . . but I have another entire week's worth of recipes I still want to try. So looks like we'll be carrying Barefoot Contessa week into this week!!! 
Menu Plan for this week: 
  • Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts (with homemade goat cheese)
  • French Apple Tart
  • Lobster and Shells
  • Roasted Shrimp with Feta
  • Winter Minestrone Soup
  • And maybe Tuscan White Beans
Checking out Ina's Cookbooks from the library has been a great way to add some great new recipes to our personal list of recipes. I think this might become a regular thing . . . picking a chef, checking out their cookbooks from the library and planning a week of meals around them!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kitchen Sink Organization

 We are making headway on our Barefoot Contessa Week!!! I will have a full wrap up first thing Monday Morning!

I wanted to share what we've got going on under the kitchen sink.
 I have a future plan for some of our more frequently used cleaning supplies and that will be installed on the other side of the kitchen sink cabinet. But I still had to find a way to store the supplies that only get used in the kitchen . . . like sponges, dishwasher detergent, etc. . .

I wanted to be able to access everything easily so I thought about a lazy susan. I found this XL turntable on Clearance at Homesense for $7! It's HUGE at 18" it just barely fit in the cabinet (you can find the same one on Amazon for $17 HERE).
I found little clear plastic containers from the dollar store for our sponges, and a plastic container with a spout also from The Dollar Tree for our homemade powdered dishwasher detergent.
And I am in love with these tiny bottles of club soda from Target!! :)
It is really nice to be able to access all of our supplies and there's the added bonus that I get to feel like a DJ with my new turn table!!! ;) haha

"You spin me right round, baby, right round
like a record baby, right round round round."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wallpaper Love

I will never understand why men don't like wallpaper!
How can you not love wallpaper?? This room re-do is all the proof I need to show that wallpaper is awesome! haha

We received an email last week from Johanna (from Sweden) telling us that our home had influenced the design of her dining area and nook. She thanked us for the inspiration and send us a couple photos of her space . . . .
I have no idea why she is thanking us for the inspiration because this room is way cooler than our house! I LOVE that wallpaper. And although we have a round dining table, I am a sucker for a long rectangle table to seat family and friends at. And you know I have a soft spot in my heart for tulips in white vases, and apples in white bowls!
She let us know she did it all on a budget:
-The Table and Chairs were off of a Swedish version of Craigslist . . . for the Canadian equivilent of $155.
-The carpet was made by Johanna's husband's grandmother a long time ago (The red stripes are beautiful with the colorful wallpaper). 
-And  the wallpaper is from a collection named Wallpaper By Scandinavian designers and you can find the entire collection here:

Thank you so much for sending us your room Johanna!!! I am definitely the one who is inspired now!!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Not what you were expecting . . . not what I was expecting!

So you are expecting cupcakes and I was expecting to make cupcakes, and yet . . . . I have no cupcakes to show you.

The Pressure Regulator on our stove went (or so I am told), which meant we have no gas pressure in our stove which meant no yummy cupcakes for anyone. (Don't worry about leaking gas or anything like that it was just a sensor regulator thingy . . . no danger here. Which didn't stop me from grabbing Max and running outside like a mad woman haha)
The company we bought the stove from can order one, and rush deliver it for Monday so it's looking like a cold salads and sandwiches for dinner this weekend, luckily we had no entertaining plans. Generally speaking Holiday's that involve excessive amounts of drinking and green food coloring are ones that we don't host, in our mostly neutral, light beige carpeted house! ;) (a little word to the wise).

In the meantime I'll be getting my Barefoot Contessa on. I checked out most of her books from the library this week, I plan on having a Barefoot Contessa Week next week! That's right a whole week of Barefoot Contessa Meals!  As always I'll let you know how it goes. I also have some great hooks to share with you as soon as I install and photograph them! 
I'll try to whip up a batch of Cupcakes at my sister's house this weekend. I'll post pictures this weekend if she let's me take over her kitchen . . . but really who wouldn't let you take over their kitchen for cupcakes ? ? ?

We're wishing everyone a Happy St.Patrick's Day!!!

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
~Irish Blessing

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A little St.Patty touch

This might be one of sillier things that have found their way into our home, but somehow here they are . . . St.Patrick's Day Four Leaf Clover Chair Socks!
Diaso is a local Japanese Dollar Store and a set of four was $1. Lee knowing my unhealthy love of chair socks picked me up a set. I think they're the perfect little St.Patty touch.
 I'll be baking St.Patrick's Day Cupcakes all day. I have a super cute idea that I am hoping works out it will involve green buttercream icing as grass, white buttercream icing as clouds and some rainbow candy strips. Wish me luck . . . I've called for reinforcements, aka my sister. We'll be baking and icing all day hopefully it works . . . if not I have some cut little sugar four leaf clovers to top the cupcakes with (always have a backup :). We'll make sure to take photos and I'll have the finished photos and my recipe for buttercream icing on Friday!!!
I have the feeling you didn't expect Four Leaf Clover chair socks when you came over here today! ;) Surprise! :S 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Art for Sale

I love to showcase my sister's art work. I've mentioned before how she stole all of my artistic talent (I can't prove she outright stole it from me . . . but it's not just a coincidence she can paint, draw and sculpt, and a simple game of hangman puts my artistic talents to the test).

She recently came by to share her latest works of art and maybe she's got babies on the brain (she is getting married this summer ;) but I thought these two paintings would be amazing in a nursery, or even in a country home. Or maybe even in our home . . . the only problem with my sister bringing her paintings over is I want to buy them all. 

Here is two of her latest, my personal favorite:
 And a very sweet nursery addition:
I hope you love them as much as I do. You can check out our SHOP page for Pricing and Shipping info.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Target Vase

Target: "Bringing you things, you never knew you needed until you saw them on the shelf!"

We were in Target buying . . . flour . . . butter and wine (you know the staples ;). When a quick trip down the Home aisle resulted in the cutest vase I've ever seen! It's honeycomb pattern was so subtle, and you know I'm a sucker for white ceramic.

There were two sizes, a Large and a small size. I picked up the small size for $16.99. Although it's pretty darn big.

As per usual I'll be enforcing our One in / One out rule. Meaning We bought a new vase so one of our old vases is on it's way out.
Lee did remind me that the exact words out of my mouth when I saw my new vase were:
"I will get rid of every vase I own if I can have this ONE vase. 
It's . . . . sooooooo . . . . cute!!!" 

Okay so I'm not getting rid of all of them, but one for sure . . . maybe two!
I hope you have a great weekend filled with honeycomb vases from Target. ;) haha

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Baking Cupboard and Flour Tea cups!

With the realization that our baking cart wouldn't work for us I decided to re-organize our baking cupboard. I used the Ikea Korken jars, I love that they are glass. I know that most food storage plastic is safe (especially if it's not going to be heated) but I like the extra security of glass.

The jars are really well priced, at $2.99 for the bigger jars you see and $1.99 for the smaller ones. Which put our grand total at $45 for the cupboard.
We store our nuts in the small jars, I know that nuts keep longer in the freezer but we only buy small amounts at a time and use them fairly quickly.
The small jars also hold, our dried fruit, our chocolate chips, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, etc . . .
The larger jars hold, our different sugars, bread crumbs and things like that. 
That's all well and good but what about the big bags of flour and sugar???
We use to store the flour and sugar in plastic containers from Ikea . . . seen here.  They looked great all lined up, but it was really difficult to get a measuring spoon in (in fact the 1 cup spoon wouldn't even fit in). As well as you couldn't fit in an entire bag of flour into one container, so we were having to store the container and a half bag of flour . . . not very efficient.
I found 3 large glass containers at Homesense. They are elegant but also super functional because the flour container can hold two 5 lb bags of flour easily, and the sugar container can hold almost as much!
I wanted to find super cute measuring spoons to store in the jars but I had a really hard time finding cute ones (after all they'll be on display inside the glass container). I found three bone china tea cups at our local antique store. I got them for $1 each because there was only 3 and they didn't have saucers.
I took one cup and filled it with sugar then I dumped out the sugar into a measuring cup, it measured exactly 1 cup. So I know each tea cup is One Cup. I still use measuring cups or spoons when I bake but sometimes in cooking you just need a sprinkling of flour, and having a little cup inside is super handy! As well, if a recipe calls for a cup of sugar I can just dump in a cup without getting the measuring spoons out.

I was really enthralled with the idea of a baking cart, but I can't lie I am really happy with our baking cupboard and new containers!

Monday, March 4, 2013

All time Favorites

Writing a blog is so much fun, but between projects it can sometimes be a stretch to post every weekday. Don't get me wrong . . . I can ramble on and on about HOME, but I'm never sure what's useful rambling and what's just plain rambling. That's why I LOVE reader questions. The way I see it . . . if one reader asks a question, there are probably more readers who were also wondering.
Today's question came from multiple people in the comment section of our How we organize all the books post.
 I was wondering, could you make a small selection of your favorite books for each of your 
personal categories?
1) Your Custom Homestead I know it's available on kindle, I'm not sure if it's available in book form, but any way you get your hands on it . . . it's good. I really enjoyed this book.
2) Simple Country Wisdom, I bought this book for my mom for Mother's day last year and I loved it so much I bought a copy for myself! It has some great photography and some great tips!
3) Happier at Home, this is the second book I've read by this author (the other book being The Happiness project) both are really great! Serious Love going on here!
4) Radical Homemakers, this was a bit weird for me to include. There were parts I LOVED about the book, and there were parts that I really didn't like about the book. But for the parts that I loved, this book is definitely worth a read. If you decide to read it I would LOVE to know what you thought of it.

I spent almost my entire teen years in sweatpants. I played a lot of volleyball as a teenager (it's actually how Lee and I met) I spent almost everyday in the gym so wearing something other than sweatpants never occurred to me. But once I was out in the working world I had to fend for myself and it was a steep learning curve . . . one I still struggle with. These Books helped . . . these books and a great pair of leggings!!!
5) What you wear can change your life, this is the first personal style book I ever bought . . . I was in my very early twenties and saw it on Oprah. It worked really well for me, one of the girls has the exact same body shape as mine (with all the same good spots and trouble spots). But I really think this book will work for everybody type.
6) How to have style, a recent find for me. It's great!
7) No Brainer Wardrobe (link found on sidebar), it's a fabulous e book that I loved so much they are now an affiliate of ours! It was exactly what I needed at a time when my life was a bit busier than I would have liked.
8) Gorgeously Green, just an amazing book! Mostly about earth friendly beauty products, this book breaks it all down!

I have a weird love of finance books. I really couldn't explain why, I have just always LOVED to read books on how to save money, and how to invest money. Very weird I know!
9) The smart Canadians guide to saving money, obviously more for Canadians. But if you are Canadian it's an amazing personal finance book. In my little opinion, the best personal finance book.
10) The Wealthy Barber Returns, a classic personal finance book for a reason!
11) America's Cheapest Family. While I don't use every tip in this book, I found this family inspiring (which is all I can ask for from a book . . . to be inspired!).
12) Smart Couples Finish Rich, we buy a copy of this book and attach it to the the gift we bring to every wedding. We use it instead of a card, and write a little message inside the book.

Right now I am really into what I will refer to as "Simplicity" books. Basically just books about simple living, slowing down a bit, and making sure the way we currently live is supporting the kind of people we want to be and life we want to live.
13) Buddhism Plain and Simple, this is the best book on Buddhism I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It was exactly what it promised Buddhism plain and simple. It was so informative but not at all boring. One of my favorite all time books. 
14) The Power of Less. An amazingly inspiring book, I loved every page. 
15) The New Good Life, I've read a couple of John Robbins' books they are always super entertaining. This one has everything from recipes for a smaller waistline to a chapter about the question of whether or not to have babies. 
16) Less is more. Basically a book of essays about valuing free time, no debt and simple living.

Those are some of my favorites and should keep you reading well into summer! ;) 

Here's what I've got lined up for the next few months: 


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