Wrap with Scrap!

Scrapbooking Paper

Whether you scrapbook or not, there is no denying the endless possibilities when it comes to the patterns, colours and designs available. I often find myself looking at gorgeous paper and fabrics in much the same way….often finding some designs just too beautiful not to have. When it comes to wrapping small gifts…why not expand your thinking and choose from the vast array of papers available, so much to choose from as opposed to the limited stock of wrapping paper available in most stores and/or the extravegant prices you find in higher end specialty stores. Of course, using scrapbooking paper does limit use to smaller gifts or requires piecing together two sheets. However, it is often available for as low as 50 cents for individual sheets and you don’t have to worry about storing the leftover paper!

Important things to consider if you want to use scrapbooking paper to wrap a gift:

  1. The size of the gift. Scrapbooking paper is available in 12″ X 12″ sheets (as well as standard 8 1/2 x 11 or smaller), so it will only work for small gifts or you can decide to tape two sheets together on the reverse side enabling you to play with a piece that is approximately 12″ X 23″ (with overlap for taping). If you aren’t sure if it will work and you don’t have any at home to test the size, just make a template from newspaper or plain brown packaging paper. In fact, you could keep it as a template for future gifts as well.
  2. Make sure you are purchasing a light weight paper. Some paper is definitely heavy stock and will not be very pliable for wrapping.
  3. If you need to purchase the paper, you may want to look and see what you already have on hand for ribbon and embellishments. Instead of purchasing more, see if you can coordinate your paper purchase with items you already have at home. I think it’s safe to say that most people that are creative and/or crafty…have a stash of stuff they “just had to buy”. Think of gift wrapping as a way to use up some of those crafting items ….perhaps not how you initially intended, but this way you get to purge and be creative at the same time! Make sure to take the embellishments you have with you to the store ~ DO NOT TRUST THAT YOU CAN MATCH THE COLOUR FROM MEMORY….believe me it is next to impossible. You think you can until you arrive at the store looking for teal and realize that even teal has a zillion different tones/shades…yikes!

Check out my latest video from my channel: BOWhemian WRAPsody to see how you can wrap with scrap!

Au Naturel!

I always keep basic brown packaging paper on hand. It’s actually one of my “go to” gift wrapping papers. It is cheap, readily available at any dollar store and oh so versatile! You can dress up the paper (using stamps, paint or sharpies) or leave it plain and just add embellishments. The paper is such a neutral colour that you can literally combine it with almost any colour to create a great look.

For this gift, I simply added a unique “ribbon” I found at the dollar store. It combines a rustic type of cord with tiny leaves to create an organic look. I then cut a few slips from flowers I had in the house. It looks awesome with a simple slip of greenery or combined with a simple flower such as a daisy. Love this look and so simple to pull together! Look for more great ways to use basic brown paper in up coming videos!

Tab Top Surprise!

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, this gift wrapping idea is not new. Today I posted a new video with a birthday version of the concept. I had originally created a blog post outlining the steps for using a pull-tab tin can as a gift wrapping container in a Christmas post. It is one of my favourite hacks and I can honestly say my family is forbidden from ever using the tab to open such cans. We always use the can opener, so I have a small collection of cans I save as a unique way to present/wrap small gifts.

Use a tab-top tin can to wrap a small gift.

Simply Lattice Gift Wrapping

With plenty of frustration but even more determination, I posted my third Youtube video today! There is so much to learn and every time I think I have something figured out, I encounter a glitch that costs me several hours to sort out. However, despite the set backs, I’m determined to give this everything I’ve got and to capitalize on my time off by learning the tricks of the trade and becoming more adept at the whole process. Needless to say I’m hoping the quality of my videos will improve as I go!

Today’s video highlights a lattice look gift wrap with two types of ribbon combined to create more interest. I also used some buttons to add to the overall look! I hope you can get some good ideas and enjoy the video!

Purple Pizzazz Gift Wrap

Check out my latest video which demonstrates how to add dimension and glamour to a gifts. Use iridescent gift bag shredding and Christmas Cracker balls to create a gift that makes a statement!

BOWhemian WRAPsody!

Hi All!

My full time job has been very demanding this year and quite honestly, I didn’t have much left at the end of the day! I love teaching kindergarten, but 5 year olds do have a special way of zapping your energy!

Enough said…summer holidays are here and I’m pumped! I’ve had a new project on the horizon for a few months now and just launched my new Youtube channel! I am super excited about this project, but also terrified! Anyone who knows me will vouch that I’m camera shy. I absolutely hate getting my picture taken and that’s why 99% of our family pictures highlight other members of our family. I am yet to take a selfie and starting a Youtube channel is way out of my comfort zone. However, this concept was dropped in my spirit from the most reliable source I know, so I am trusting that I’m to take a leap of faith and walk this journey out.

I love wrapping presents and the idea of combining two things I love to do: wrapping and teaching seems like something I might actually be good at. My channel: BOWhemian WRAPsody will be strictly featuring anything and everything related to gift wrapping. The concept is still new and the ideas are still evolving, but expect to see a whole channel that will answer many of your gift wrapping questions…what to use, how to use it, how to think outside the box, how to create beautiful gifts that leave a lasting impression and much more! I will also be creating a new category on my blog that will connect all of my new videos with some of my past posts related to gift wrapping. There is so much to do, but I can’t wait bring it all together! Keep your eyes open for the new BOWhemian WRAPsody tab in my category list….hopefully up and functioning by mid July.

Check out my first video! (You may notice I mention my other videos…I actually taped several but this was the first one that I finished editing and posted…oh well, there will be plenty more to come!)

Combine textures and patterns to create a stand-out look!

You’ll notice that I managed to use a camera angle that basically omits me from the frame…yay!

Paleo Morning Glory Muffins

Paleo Morning Glory Muffins
Grain free, sugar free, moist and delicious!

Over the past couple of years, I’ve found that I feel the best when I avoid grains. Period. I do not have an official diagnoses of any kind, but avoiding grains has really helped me reduce unexplainable aches and pains, as well as brain fog and water retention. In addition, I found that it was also key to shedding those last few pounds that seem impossible to penetrate on the scale. Sticking to a grain free diet isn’t easy, I’m not going to lie, but when you are battling health issues, is seems like a no brainer. Although I try not to let old habits sneak back in, I believe that a little cheat now and then is totally acceptable. The key to my success is often directly related to discovering a few go-to foods that work specifically for me. I’ve collected a few recipes that are both tasty and quick to crab when the cravings come knocking. One of my absolute favourites is this muffin recipe. I almost always have them frozen in my fridge freezer for easy access and a quick snack to grab and go. I generally pop one in the microwave for 30 seconds and smother it in butter…yum!! Although I try my best to avoid grains, I am big on fats and never shy away from butter and high fat cream in my coffee! These are hands-down my favourite muffins, but I should preface that by saying that I try not to eat too much sugar either, so some may find they lack sweetness. My palate has adjusted to minimal sugar in my diet, so I don’t find them bland at all. I have tried many recipes for “healthy muffins”, but I always return to this go-to recipe that was passed on to me by a friend at work. They are 100% guilt free, filling and super yummy!

Paleo Morning Glory Muffins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups almond flour
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 1 large apple (peeled, cored and grated)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T. melted honey
  • ½ cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 cup chopped dates/prunes (or raisins, if you prefer)
  • *Orange zest (optional)
  1. Grease the muffin tins. (I always cut small squares of parchment paper that are about 1 ¼” to fit right in the bottom of my pan. My mom always did this and the muffins come out beautifully. I peel the little papers off before serving or freezing.)
  2. Combine dry ingredients and mix.
  3. Add carrot, apple, coconut and dates/prunes. Combine well.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, honey, oil and vanilla together.
  5. Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients. Mix well. It will be very thick and appear almost too dry.
  6. Spoon into muffin pan and gently pat each muffin down (it’s thick enough to do this). Bake 25 to 35 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean.)
  7. Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before removing to a rack.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

*2 T. of honey is not much sweetener as compared to a regular recipe, but I will often lessen the amount. Once you eliminate sugar from your diet, it is surprising how quickly your palette adjusts to needing/wanting less sweetness.

*The original recipe calls for raisins, but I much prefer dates/prunes.

*I will often use a date based sweetener in lieu of the honey. See below:

Place 6 dates and 3 T. of the water in a microwave safe dish and heat for 30 seconds. Remove and use a fork to mash the dates. Add a 4th T. of water and heat another 30 seconds. Remove and stir until smooth.

Be sure to let me know if you decide to try these out. I’d love to hear how you like them. You may be like me and they become a new staple in your freezer!

    

One Stop Bake Shop: “Sweet Treats” Kindergarten Bakery

 

I’ve taught kindergarten for many years, but I never feel like my program has become boring or repetitive. I strive to keep things fresh and always try to enhance the activities, lessons and play areas to keep things fun and engaging. I definitely have a creative side and luckily teaching is a job that allows me to infuse my program with creativity and frankly, its what keeps me inspired. Every year or so, I try to create a new dramatic play space for my kinders. We have a Boston Pizza Restaurant, Vet, Post Office and Deli that we rotate through along with our standard house center. The students love dramatic play and these areas are always a hit. A few years ago, I decided I would love to create a bakery, but knew that it would be a huge undertaking because I just didn’t have enough pretend items to stock the bakery. This past winter, I finally took the plunge and with the help of my student teacher and a few volunteers, we set to work.

Salt Dough Bakery Foods:

We created salt dough pastries, breads and cookies. Originally, I tried colouring the dough by mixing variations of instant coffee, tea and cinnamon with the water added to the dough mixture. This created beautiful earthy coloured dough that we formed into the items shown below. They looked so amazing when we finished, but we were so disappointed when all of the dough dried much lighter and virtually looked the same. So in the end, each piece was carefully painted to look as authentic as possible and then little embellishments were added as needed such as sesame seeds to the bread sticks, icing to the hot cross buns, cinnamon dusting to the cinnamon rolls, and a bead to the imperial cookies. All of the items were given several coats of podge. For the most part, they turned out great (with the exception of how the podge yellowed on the imperial cookies). They are hard and sturdy, but would not with stand heavy duty play. When we set up the bakery and explained the centres to the students, we emphasized that unlike toys you buy in the store, these will break. Although the kids were certainly allowed to play with them, we also talked about how some of the items in the bakery would act more as display items that wouldn’t be handled quite as much. The students were really great about handling these carefully and they all survived the first year!

Salt Dough Recipe:

  • 2 cups of flour (plain)
  • 1 cup of salt
  • upto 1 cup of water

Create your items and then let air dry. We actually left ours over the weekend. Turn them over to dry the bottoms, once the tops has thoroughly dried. Paint and seal with Modge Podge or a similar product.

Cake PopsCake Pops:

The cake pops were a bit finicky and the sprinkles were not adhering well, so in the end, we told the kids they would be for display only. They were made with dowel and wood balls. We drilled a hole in the ball and then secured the dowel in the hole with glue. They were then spray painted and podged (the stripe was created with the narrowest painter’s tape). The sprinkles (tiny beads) were glued on and then podged over top.  They looked great, but any little bump and the sprinkles would fall off. There were so many things to do in the bakery, the kids really didn’t mind that these weren’t to be used. As a result, they held up really well and are ready for next year.

Classic Chocolate “Sponge” Cake:

Classic Chocolate Layer Cake

The Classic Chocolate Cake was made using regular yellow sponges we bought at the dollar store. I took them home and spray painted them all brown. We then glued a layer of felt between the layers for icing and covered one end and the top with additional felt for the frosting on the outside. Small pieces of felt were cut out and glued on to embellish the cake and then fabric glue was used to add sprinkles.

Felt Cakes:

We also used felt to cover round cylinder shaped boxes (and one rectangular box) that I picked up from Dollarama. We simply covered the entire surface with white felt and then cut out various felt strips for decorating the cakes. In addition, we bought cheap little silk flowers from the craft area at the dollar store and added velcro to the bottoms. The velcro stuck beautifully to the felt, so that the kids could “dress” and “undress” the cake for any occasion. I also made two sizes so the cakes could be stacked for a wedding cake. I was lucky to find some old spools of felt ribbon I had bought for scrapbooking years ago, this also made beautiful decorations for the felt cakes.

Cookie Tin Cakes:

I spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to incorporate as many hands-on bakery experiences as possible. Eventually my mind settled on magnetic cakes. I went to a local thrift store and picked up several round cookie tins of varying sizes for 50 cents each. I took them home and spray painted them and then using a brush added a few details that would be permanent decorations on the cake. From there, we just took some of the many flowers I had bought from the dollar store and added magnets to the bottoms. The kids loved the ease with which they could change a cake according to the orders made by customers at the bakery.

Play Dough Baking Station:

I wanted to extend the students’ bake shop experience beyond decorating to the actual prep work behind those beautifully finished cakes.  I had a parent volunteer make a batch of my favourite play dough (omitting any colour as I wanted it natural):

Mrs. Roy’s Play Dough Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup water
  • food colouring (Kool Aid also works great for colouring)

Mix oil, water and food colouring in a pot. Add the dry ingredients. Stir. Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly. When the mixture is very thick and dough like, remove it from the pot and let it cool a bit. Transfer to an air tight plastic container and chill.

We then set up a table in the bakery where the bakers could knead, roll and cut the dough as they chose. I have cookie sheets, muffin tins, pie plates, pastry cutters and cookie cutters, so they had everything they needed to bake. In addition, I put out some small beads and dried beans that they were able use to decorate and/or add to their baking (eg. chocolate chips, raisins, etc)

Natural Coloured Play Dough

We set up a station in the bakery with natural coloured play dough. The kids used rolling pins, cookie cutters and small beads/beans to embellish their creations.

Donuts:

I found several good tutorials on how to make sock donuts. I followed the instructions for making the basic donut shape, but was having trouble collecting socks that were authentic donut colours, so I ended up covering most of the sock donuts with panty hose to create more of a natural donut look. We then added the felt icing and fabric paint sprinkles to some. The donuts turned out great an were very durable. I picked up all of the wicker baskets at a local thrift store for no more than a dollar each.

Our kindergarten bakery created hours of fun for the kids. In addition to all of the homemade items, I also have a set of wooden Doug and Melissa Cookies and a set of commercially made cupcakes, as well as a few other random pieces from classroom sets. Of course, we also had a till and a telephone for taking orders and a table set up if you wanted to stay for coffee and a “Sweat Treat”. This was lots of work to plan and create, but the hard work is now done and next year the set up with be easy. The students get so excited when there is a new play area created for them. I love to see them step into these roles and see their own creativity emerge.

I love kindergarten!!

 

 

Chocolate Mocha Trifle

Chocolate Mocha TrifleI’m not gonna lie….this dessert involves several steps and is a bit time consuming. Having said that, it isn’t hard to make and can be made over several days because of the various steps. If you love the meshing of chocolate and coffee flavours…I think you’ll find it’s worth the effort! I had never really tasted a Chocolate Mocha Trifle before, but I had to make a dessert for an event and I love making trifles because they taste good and are relatively stress free. Seriously, not much could go wrong with a trifle!

I somehow got it in my head that I would love to make a Chocolate Mocha flavoured trifle, so I began scouring the internet for that perfect recipe. There were several, but one comment that surfaced more than once in the reviews was that many of the recipes had a “processed” food taste…yuck! I decided that instead of searching for an actual trifle recipe, I would instead look for what appeared to be good Mocha and/or Coffee flavoured desserts. This dessert is completely from scratch (other than the Coffee Crisp Chocolate Bars) and combines several recipes (all of which I tried for the first time for this trifle).  The good news is that some of the recipes can be made ahead and frozen until the day you assemble the dessert.

Chocolate Mocha Trifle Layers:

  • Chocolate Cake with Kahlúa drizzle
  • 8-10 Café Coffee Cookies
  • Chocolate Mocha Mousse
  • Mocha Whip Frosting
  • 2 Coffee Crisp Chocolate Bars, chopped

Chocolate Cake:

For this trifle, I used one of my go to Chocolate Cake recipes. This cake is super moist, but a bit denser than some. I like it for a trifle because it is a heavier and holds up better in the layers. For this trifle, I doubled the cake recipe. I did end up with some left over cake, but didn’t want to end up short and not have enough cake for the trifle bowl. My bowl isn’t overly large, but I’m glad I doubled it up, despite the left-overs (which make great cake pops)! I made the cake several days ahead; cooled it completely, cut it into 1″ squares and then froze it in a zipper bag until the day of assembly.

Kahlúa – I used about 1/2 cup of Kahlúa and drizzled it over the layers of cake, as they were added to the trifle bowl.

Chocolate Mocha Mousse:

This recipe was adapted from the recipe found on page 181 in Enjoy! from The Best of Bridge cookbook series.  I can’t find the recipe online to link it to, but their recipes are very good and I have several of the books from the series. The original recipe uses chocolate wafers for the base of the dessert and I didn’t need a base, so the recipe is not exactly the same as is in their book.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups (small bag) of miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 4 teaspoons of instant coffee
  • 1 cup of whipping cream

Method:

Melt the marshmallows in the top of a double boiler (or in short increments in your microwave – that’s what I did). While the marshmallows are melting, stir the coffee into the boiling water. Once the marshmallows have melted, stir in the coffee mixture. Cover and chill at least an hour. (I did this step the day before I planned to assemble the dessert.) This is super quick to do, but waiting for it to chill can really slow down the process, so plan ahead.

On the day of assembly. Whip the cream. Remove the marshmallow/coffee mixture from the fridge and whip. Fold in the marshmallow/coffee mixture. Place back in the fridge until all of the trifle layers are prepared and ready for assembly.

Café Coffee Cookies:

Café Chocolate CookiesThis recipe was found on the Betty Crocker site. The cookies turned out great, but I did make a couple of minor changes to the original recipe. I reduced the chocolate chips and omitted the pecans. The recipe calls for one 12 oz. bag of chocolate chunks (I used chips instead). I felt like this was too much, so I only used half a bag (and still felt like that was more than enough). The cookies are very much like a regular chewy chocolate chip cookie with a coffee twist. The recipe says that it makes 15 servings. I made my cookies 1/3 to 1/2 the suggested size and baked them about 10 minutes. Yielded about 3 dozen cookies, give or take (I didn’t actually count them). You can find the original recipe for the Café Coffee Cookies here. I made these about a week before I needed the dessert and frozen them.

Chop/break 8-10 of the cookies for use in the trifle.

Mocha Whipped Frosting:

Again, this recipe is taken from the Best of Bridge Series. I found it on page 196/197 of Grand Slam. The recipe is actually called Mocha Whipped Cream Cake, but I only used the frosting portion of the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup strong, cold coffee
  • 2 Tablespoons Kahlúa

Method:

Whip cream with sugar until soft peaks form. Add the coffee and kahlúa. Beat until stiff.

Chocolate Mocha Trifle Assembly:

  • 1/3 of cake, drizzled with kahlúa
  • 1/2 of Chocolate Mocha Mousse
  • Cookies
  • 1/3 of cake, drizzled with kahlúa
  • 1/2 of Chocolate Mocha Mousse
  • 1/3 of cake, drizzled with kahlúa
  • Mocha Whipped Frosting
  • Top with broken Coffee Crisp Chocolate Bars

Enjoy!

 

Mud Room Mayhem #6: Vintage Sewing Machine Turned Entry Table

I had picked up an old antique Singer Sewing machine several years ago through Kijiji. I was attracted to this one in particular because it was only $25. Of course the low price was fair because it was in super bad shape.  The wood had been painted white and then left outdoors for an extended period of time. Needless to say it was warped and the paint was in horrendous shape. For me it was a steal because I really didn’t care about the cabinet or sewing machine. I was interested in the drawers and wrought iron base.

I had previously used two of the drawers as little storage containers in my laundry room makeover.

I was saving the wrought iron base for something…it just took me a few years to figure out exactly what I would do with it. When we finally decided to attack the mud room, I knew this is where its final resting place would be. This was a super simple project and it was so easy to make it a custom size to fit the space. The sewing machine base consists of two side panels. The size of the table is simply determined by the length of the boards you use. We purchased 3 planks and cut the two shelves, so that they would fit snuggly between the sides and rest on the old drawer supports. The third plank was slightly larger, so that it could sit on top of the supports and overhang slightly. We sanded, stained and urethaned them all and then secured them to the supports (which I had sanded and spray painted white). The finished result was a perfect sized shelve/entry table for our mud room! I couldn’t believe that I scored all of the baskets/trays at Dollarama for well under $30!

I feel like this mud room has been at a standstill for way too long, but with summer vacation around the corner I’m optimistic that we’ll make some headway. This summer my mantra is “finish old projects”. I feel like we have quite a list of jobs that are 90% done.  My plan is to take care of all of those finishing touches and try not to start anything new before these old projects are 100% complete. That would feel sooooo good!