Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays - Phoenix the Gift Guardian

On Christmas Eve, while the children were nestled all snug in their beds, our little frisky and ever so moody calico kitty hopped up on top of their gifts. I like to think that she is protecting the gifts from all things that go bump in the night. Most likely however, she is plotting how to open the package of kitty treats under the tree.

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Homemade Christmas Decorations - Puzzle Ornaments

Looking for a way to reuse old puzzle pieces? Looking for a new DIY craft idea? What about a holiday DIY craft idea? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, read on because today I am going to teach you how to make Christmas decorations. Puzzle Ornaments. 

This is a great way to reuse jigsaw puzzles that are missing pieces,  We painted most of the pieces white and a few pieces red. We needed to make the majority of peices white for the snowflakes and half of the candy canes. We painted a couple edge pieces but not many, I really only wanted the edge pieces for the very tips of the candy canes. 

Afterwards, we glued the pieces together to form snowflakes and candy canes. I recommend glue that dries clear, do not be afraid to use copious amounts of it. In fact, I encourage it. The final step will be to tie ribbon around each of the ornaments after they are dry.

The children and I really had a good time making these together. This is a great activity to do with kids. What kid doesn't like to make things? What are your favorite holiday DIY craft ideas?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Homemade Christmas Decorations - Cinnamon Ornaments

A couple days ago my youngest boy arrived home from school and he was feeling a little bit upset. The grade 6 students at his school got to make Christmas ornaments and he wished that he could make some. Tyler is in grade 5 and he is a very heartfelt boy. To be honest, with Mat on a road trip to the city, I was looking for and activity to do with him.

I started browsing through Pinterest for some holiday craft ideas and that led me to a post written by Melissa at the Chocolate Muffin Tree with a recipe for Cinnamon Ornaments. I should mention my oven doesn't work well so I'm not entirely sure how well this will work.

Now, Melissa's recipe calls for:
1 cup of ground cinnamon, 
1 Tablespoon of ground cloves, 
1 Tablespoon of Nutmeg,
3/4 cups of Applesauce
2 Tablespoons of White Glue

First of all, I don't have nutmeg so I will use All Spice instead. I don't think it will make a difference, they aren't for eating and it will still smell delicious. I also don't have a cup of cinnamon on hand. I do have enough to split the recipe in half though. No biggie, we will make a smaller batch and it will certainly cheer up the little one's spirits.

Melissa said that you could leave them out to try for a few days but she was impatient and instead cooked them at 200F for 2 hours. I followed suit and cooked mine in the oven for 2 hours. After 2 hours they were almost done except they were a little gummy on the bottom. I flipped them over and cooked them for another 45 minutes.

When they were finished Tyler was in bed so I painted a few of them with some leftover Easter egg paint and saved the rest for him to paint the next day.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

To Halifax and Back Again

It has been snowing for the last couple days. We have been using the time to get the house ready for the approaching holiday season.  We've been planning for a few months to replace the large projector screen television in the living room with a nice slim LED screen this Christmas. We pretty much ran the projector screen to the ground and no one was watching TV in the living room anymore because we all had nicer televisions in our bedrooms. I am also in need of a new stove. It is an archaic monster. I'm scared to think how much additional power we have been consuming because of these old appliances.

When we moved in a few years back we renovated the top half of our house because the bathrooms and bedrooms needed it the most. Our plans were to save some money and then renovated the downstairs. Since the plans to renovate the kitchen were in the near future we had planned on replacing the kitchen appliances after the renovations were complete. Unfortunately the stove never made it that far.

The hubby managed to find a Samsung LED 60 inch television for $700 on Kijiji. It was only a year old and it comes from a family who took really good care of it. The plastic was still on the television, my husband keeps the plastic on everything so it looks new longer, he was ecstatic when he found out. He also managed to find me a nice second hand flat top stove for $100. These purchases are going towards the "house" presents.

He is on route to the city today. It was too windy for him to be on the water, he decided to brave the weather and drive carefully to Halifax so he can pick up these goodies. I'm spending today making Christmas decorations with the youngest boy. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

They Dream of Snow Days

In the last couple hours we've had a light dusting of snow and the children are convinced that they are going to have the day off of school. I remember being that young and wishing that mom would pop her head into my room in the morning to tell me that school was cancelled today. There is nothing more exciting to a child then the possibility of a snow day. In fact, a snow day to a child is much like a severely windy day for the hubby right now. The possibility of spending the day at home instead of putting in a rough day on the ocean can be wondrous. Unfortunately, the down side to all of the excitement is the disappointment when school/work is still on for the day. 

On another note, the hubby is very pleased that he mowed the lawn so late in the year. He loves how the snow lays upon it when the grass is short and well kept. He has already been caught gazing out the window in admiration and further commenting on how nice it looks on the well trimmed lawn.

The youngest boy wanted to run outside to make snow angels but the snow is still too wet. Perhaps he will have a chance later in the week when it gets colder. Instead, the kettle is on and mugs of hot cocoa we are sharing while the snow covers the land; and the blue jay's peck the paint off my house.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review - Salba Chia Seeds

If you aren't regularly consuming Chia seeds as part of your daily routine, you may want to consider it. Chia seeds are loaded with Omega-3 and fiber as well as calcium, magnesium and many other useful minerals. They also very easy to consume. Toss some in a salad or in some yogurt and you've just given yourself a nutritional boost. Heck, you can throw some in your next batch of cookies.

Salba has sent me two bags of their Chia seeds to sample: Whole Seed and Premium Ground. It is difficult to decide which I prefer. The Premium Ground Chia is very easy to get past fussy eaters. I like to add some ground chia seeds to flour and batter fish with it. I like to add the whole chia seeds to smoothies, homemade juice, almond milk and even water so it can absorb the liquid.

Salba's Chia seeds are Non Gmo and it makes me very happy and the product is packaged at an allergen free factory.

Disclaimer: I received this product for the purpose of this review. This post is based on my personal product experience, all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Expression is an Art

Everyone has a story. How often do we tell it? Whether we are the hero, the observer, the victim or just a pawn; we all have a story to tell. Our role in that story can change at any time. We are players in each other's story too.

We all need to tell our story. Expression is so vitally important. We can learn from each other; deeper yet, we can heal each other by listening. I'm not talking about a miracle cure for life. Simply that, we are at times like a kettle needing to let out steam. Expression is our way of doing that. It isn't good to keep things bottled up, we often feel better and less stressed out when we get to express ourselves. Lowering our stress levels is good for the body. Expression isn't limited to just negative release though, it helps to share our joys and all other emotions and events in between. It bonds us to each other and helps us feel less alone.

It helps when we are able to express ourselves in a manner that is well received. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we open our hearts to one another. At times it may be difficult, we may take things personally; ego, pride and fear can all hinder respectful listening. That dampens expression. It can create stress in all people involved, as well as distance and even pain.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Growing Windowsill Garlic - Pt.2

The weather calmed enough yesterday for me to brave trips to the garage to work in the soil for bit. I have more cloves of garlic then I can plant indoors. I can easily have plants everywhere in the home, but it aggravates my husband because I'm "turning the house into a dirt land, plant nursery."

Now I admit, perhaps I've been extreme in years past. The first year after we moved home from the city did involved some indoor gardening growing pains. But, the dining room isn't a green house anymore. There aren't containers covering every square inch of it anymore. I've gotten much better, I swear! MUCH better. 

Since I have more cloves than I could realistically plant indoors, I grabbed 3 containers large enough that I could plant two cloves in each container. If I were only planting one clove per container, I could plant in a large coffee tin, providing it was at least 8 inches deep. The depth allows room for the root system to flourish. The coffee tins are just large enough for my window sill. Instead, I planted in a slightly larger container. 

It is important to plant your garlic in well-drained soil. It is even helpful to mix your soil with some sand for better drainage. Plant your cloves 4 inches from the edge of the container, space the cloves 4 inches from each other.

I kept a bunch of sprouted cloves in the glass jar and I will use the deliciously mild garlic greens in everyday recipes. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Voice of Winter

Happy December 1st! It's gross, isn't it. Hey, I'm not thrilled either! I'm not a fan of cold temperatures, especially cold winds. The faster winter gets its business done, the sooner the warm weather will follow. I am a sun baby and I can't wait for it to return. Whenever it is cold out, I very quickly close my eyes and imagine that I am somewhere warm.

It's too cold to mess in the dirt outside now, my hands freeze. I want to mess in the dirt, it beckons me. I usually end up trying to grow the odd thing inside. When we extend the house, I might have a nice sun room and it will be my little wintertime plant sanctuary.

Don't get me wrong, I may hate on the cold, but I do find winter beautiful. I enjoy winter activities like sledding, ice skating and a good old fashioned snow ball fight. I appreciate the ebb and flow of the seasons. I love a nice wood stove heating my home and the feeling of wood heat. I love smelling all of the baked goods and I love spreading holiday cheer. I love the smell of winter, the crispness in the air. Winter has a voice; a sound-deadening hush. Nature is sleeping and I am in a snow cave.

I do like the holiday season, I've been tinkering around with some Christmas songs for a couple different Christmas parties that I will be performing at this month. It has helped to get me in the spirit of things. I still haven't really decorated and I really want to string some lights. Hopefully, I will be able to get that mission accomplished mid-week. Right now it's time to put some wood in the fire.