It’s a Red Plate Kinda Day!

I want to dedicate this post to our daughter Eden! She has really had to fight through a lot of crap during the past 5 years, but her perseverance and stamina to push through and never give up are truly admirable. She has been completely depression free since May! Her spark and confidence have returned and she is ready to take on the world.

The Red Plate

The Red Plate is the perfect way to acknowledge a family member’s special triumphs…celebrate a birthday…praise a job well done…reward a goal achieved…or simply say “You Are Special Today.” When the Red Plate is used, any meal becomes a celebration honoring that special person, event or deed. We encourage those who purchase a plate or celebrate this tradition to share YOUR story.

Red Plate Store

We received our red plate as a gift from a friend several years ago. The cool thing about the plate is that it comes with a special permanent marker that you use to record the “event” on the back of the plate. It is so fun to look back and remember all of the occasions in which the red plate was used. I had actually forgot about ours for a while, but came across it when going through my china cabinet this summer. I think it is a super cool idea and makes a wonderful gift! The plates are available through the Red Plate Store and Amazon.

What Made Today a Red Plate Day?

I got up this morning to take Eden for a bit of last minute practise before attempting her 5th road test. The first time she went she was super nervous and made it through the parallel parking and most of the test. She was basically on her way back and made a “critical error” which resulted in an immediate fail. Of course, she was disappointed and this seemed to compound her anxiety for future tests. On her second attempt, she had an almost immediate fail for a critical error before she even made it to the parking test! That was the end of the critical errors, but the third time she didn’t pass the parrallel parking and the fourth she had too many points deducted. Each time she left feeling disappointed, but we tried to encourage her and tell her how important it was to be ready for the road.

To me road tests are like swimming lessons …..please whatever you do, DO NOT pass my child if they are not ready. I was always amazed at parents who would complain when their child had to repeat a swimming level, especially when they were small and in the beginner levels. For me swimming was not an activity, it was a LIFE SKILL! My kids were forced to take lessons whether they wanted to or not. I didn’t want them to ever be in a situation where they couldn’t save themselves or help someone else because they didn’t have this basic life skill. It struck me as so odd, when one particular instructor took the time to explain every detail of the swimming report and why one of the kids hadn’t passed. I politely stopped him and thanked him for holding them back. It was comical because he couldn’t let it go, he kept trying to justify his decision. I told him I completely supported his judgement and that I would never want them to move on if they weren’t ready. He told me he’d never encountered that before as most parents argue, trying to get their child the “badge” they haven’t yet earned. I was literally dumbfounded.

The same is of course true with driving. I’m not sure about you, but I wouldn’t want my daughter on the road behind the wheel of a car, if she were not qualified or ready. Why would any parent? I always prayed with her for a pass, but was so thankful for each failed attempt, knowing that it gave her more time to grow, mature and gain confidence. I strongly believe checks and balances are a blessing! I knew that she’d pass when she was ready and was quite confident today would be the day. She has healed so much in the past few months and she went in knowing in her own heart that she was ready.

Getting your driver’s licence is one of those milestones that mark a turning point in one’s adolescence, but I didn’t bring out the red plate because she finally passed! Today was a Red Plate Kinda Day because the true measure of success is when a person is willing to put themselves out there over and over again, failing as many times as it takes to finally reach their goal! For me, today represented so much more that finally getting her driver’s licence. Today we celebrated her resilience, her willingness to never give up, her perseverance and understanding that all things work out for good, for those who believe and never give up. One can only truly fail, if they stop trying or never take the risk to try in the first place.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

Way to go Eden, so proud of you!

*This post was written on Saturday, September 7th, but I just got my kiddo’s stamp of approval to post it publicly.

Skip It! #4

skipping rope for ribbon

This is the final video in my Skip It! series. In this video tutorial, I use a classic skipping rope in lieu of both the ribbon and the bow! The handles are left on the rope and add extra interest to the finished gift. This particular idea would work best on a children’s gift, as the skipping rope becomes part of the present itself. This look is definitely fun! The bright colours, thread of sparkle in the rope and extra interest of the wired garland certainly would catch the eye of any little girl!

Check out my latest video tutorial on how to create this look!

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!

    

Puppy LOVE!

HersheyThe holidays are flying by, but luckily we still have one month to go! Summer is generally the time that I plough through my giant list of things to do, but not this year…..July has been spent training and caring for our new puppy!

After approximately 4 years of debating the pros and cons of getting a dog…we finally did it and couldn’t be happier! Tim and I always wanted a dog and of course the kids have been begging us for years, but the truth is we were terrified of the commitment. Although our kids insisted they would take care of a dog, their track record with past pets (fish, toad, crayfish- yuck!!) would state otherwise. I believed they’d help out, but the reality was… it would be Tim and I taking on the responsibility. We knew that we didn’t want to be dog owners that don’t walk their dog or leave him/her kennelled for hours on end. I finally decided I was ready and it was time…we needed some positive energy in our home and what better way to bring that in, than with the joy and excitement of a new puppy! Tim was still hesitant, but left the final decision up to me. The kids and I went to meet the one remaining puppy from the litter and absolutely fell in love. I must say, I NEVER in a million years could have anticipated falling in love with a dog. I am now officially a dog person! I could never understand when someone said they had to get home to the dog or spent oodles of cash on vet bills and yet, here we are obsessed with the health and well being of our precious Morkie-Poo ~ “Hershey”! Although there are times, when I feel tied down by the commitment (especially now when we are still training him), 95% of the time, I am thrilled to take him for a walk, play with him or just cuddle. My shortfall is easily consumed with the abounding  love and affection of Tim and the kids!

I honestly can’t believe what he has brought to our family. He is calming, funny, affectionate, playful and a smile maker! There is plenty of research supporting the positive impact of owning a dog on both physical and mental health. Owning a dog can reduce stress, cholesterol, high blood pressure, risk of cardiovascular disease and help relieve depression and anxiety. There is also evidence stating that infants that are exposed to dogs develop stronger immune systems and are less prone to allergies. If you’ve been tossing around the idea of getting a dog, check out these two articles to learn more about what a dog can bring to your home…. extending far beyond the love and companionship you’d expect.

We chose to go with a smaller breed and one that was non-shedding, as I knew the dog hair would drive me crazy. We definitely consider “Hershey” when planning any outing, but know that this will be less restricting once he is trained and can be left alone for longer periods of time. We chose to kennel train him and that has been wonderful. His kennel is his safe place and it helps us to keep track of him throughout the day/night when he’s sleeping. This also helps to make bathroom training easier as he always “needs to go” after a nap. The “cons” list seems to have dwindled in our eyes, but those things that remain would really be limited to the occasional inconvenience when you need to be out or are trying to tackle a big project and would prefer not to be interrupted with “puppy business”, as well as the financial expenses associated with owing a dog (food, toys, kennel, bed, blankets, treats, leash, collar, vet bills, etc.). The bottom line is that “it is all worth it!”  Tim and I took a long time to make our decision and most of our concerns were “logically based”, but you can’t possibly calculate in the positive emotional impact that a puppy has on your family life. It is so much more than a point on your “pros” list ~ a puppy literally has the power to change the dynamics and relationships within a family. Hershey brings joy to our home everyday! This positive energy is created by observing and interacting with him, as well as sharing in the stories told by other family members experiences. You have new topics for conversation, share many “ooh’s”, “aww’s” and laughs and have far less time to focus on the issues of life.  For us, it feels like it has allowed us to take our eyes off that which can sometimes drag you down, and instead direct your focus on the fun and playful nature of a new puppy.

Getting a puppy was truly life changing for our family and the best decision we ever made! If you are sitting on the fence and like us are having trouble making the commitment ~ take the plunge and just do it! I promise any compromises will be worth it!

Yummy Chia Seed Breakfast Porridge

Chia Seed Breakfast PorridgeI’ve struggled with digestive issues for most of my adult life.  As I’ve gotten older, it seems like a constant battle just to maintain some sort of regularity. I am always assessing what works and what doesn’t and analyzing the variables that may have contributed to my frequent states of constipation. It is very frustrating (and uncomfortable) to say the least! I do take supplements when desperate, but prefer to try and manage through diet and exercise. Sometimes I feel like my whole life revolves around choosing foods that “work” and I’m embarrassed to say that “poop talks” now seem like normal conversation.

Over the years, I have tried many different foods, supplements and diets to help me stay regular and although I have found success at various times in my life, it always seems to evolve into a routine that only works temporarily. In the past, Fibre 1 cereal was always my “go to” breakfast because my digestive system seemed to really like it. I would double-up on the recommended serving size and consume my entire daily fibre goal in one shot. Although I still enjoy it, I found that over time, it became less effective.

I recently tried a simple recipe recommended to me by a friend. I have never been much of a porridge lover, mostly because I’m fussy when it comes to certain textures.  For me, porridge had to be prepared just right in order for it not to trigger my gag reflex. So, when my friend suggested I try eating chia seeds for breakfast in a porridge-like recipe, I was skeptical. In fact, it took me at least a year before I actually gave it a try. Feeling desperate to get my digestive system back on track, I decided to test her recipe out and was surprised that I enjoyed it! The texture hasn’t bothered me and I really do think it has been instrumental in helping me to become more regular once again. It is the perfect way to start your day as it is not only high in fibre, but also a great source or protein.

Chia is the new nutrition powerhouse on the block! It’s 100% gluten free, and high in omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants, too.It’s a great addition to any diet for the health benefits, but particularly helpful in gluten free and vegan baking as a both binder and as an egg substitute. (Harris Whole Health)

Chia Seed Breakfast Porridge

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • cinnamon to taste (a generous amount ~ but I don’t measure)
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • fresh or frozen blueberries (or fruit of your choice)
  • 2 to 4 T. of Cracknola (optional, but necessary if you ask me ~ AMAZING homemade grain-free granola recipe)

Place chia seeds in a cereal bowl and sprinkle with cinnamon. Stir to coat. Pour the boiling water over the seeds and let stand for 3 minutes. Stir well, as it will be lumpy. (The chia seeds will break open and gel in the hot water.) Add the blueberries and Cracknola for extra flavour. Enjoy!

What is really great about this recipe is that the main ingredient is chia seeds which are not only gluten free, but also considered a superfood because of their high nutritional value. They are not only high in fibre, but also packed with many other nutrients and offer significant health benefits. Dr. Axe has written a comprehensive article on the health advantages linked to chia seeds including anti-aging properties, digestive support, heart health, energy and metabolism booster, diabetes support, weight loss, cancer and dental health. Check out the nutrition profile from Dr. Axe’s article ~ 9 Chia Seeds Benefits + Side Effects:

Chia Seed Nutrition Profile

The reason chia seeds are so beneficial is due to them being rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins and minerals.

For example, one ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contain about: (1)

  • 137 calories
  • 12.3 grams carbohydrates
  • 4.4 grams protein
  • 8.6 grams fat
  • 10.6 grams fiber
  • 0.6 milligram manganese (30 percent DV)
  • 265 milligrams phosphorus (27 percent DV)
  • 177 milligrams calcium (18 percent DV)
  • 1 milligram zinc (7 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram copper (3 percent DV)
  • 44.8 milligrams potassium (1 percent DV)

Chia seeds also contain essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid; mucin; strontium’ vitamins A, B, E and D; and minerals, including sulphur, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, niacin and thiamine; and they’re a rich source of antioxidants.

The benefits are so numerous it seems almost criminal not to be incorporating them in your diet. They’ve been a staple in my pantry for a few years now, but up until recently I only sprinkled them on salads or added them to my smoothies. This is the first time I used chia seeds as a main ingredient in a recipe and I’m so pleased with the results. Check out this short video of Dr. Axe’s to learn more about chia seeds:

For more great information and recipe ideas, check out Dr. Mercola’s site as well.

Let me know if you decide to give this recipe a try. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Upcycled Nanaimo Bars? I Can’t Believe They’re Gluten Free!

Nanaimo Bars have been a favourite dainty of mine, since I was a child. Over the years, I have tasted many versions of it ~ both homemade as well as store-bought. I have attempted to make them several times, but must confess that my success rate has not been great. I don’t think I’m alone in my struggle to achieve the perfect base layer. I often find the base to be too dry and crumbly. There is nothing as frustrating as trying to cut a dainty that crumbles apart when you go to serve it. I also found that many times the crust actually tasted dry and lacked flavour as well. I always prefer home baking over store-bought, but eventually gave up on the idea of ever finding the perfect recipe. Eventually, I was served a piece of Nanaimo that seemed to have the perfect base. It was more fudgey and served up beautifully. When I asked for the recipe, I was extended a smile and told it was the “Robin Hood” box mix. I was sold and proceeded to buy the mix and make it as one of the dainties on my annual Christmas baking list. Sadly, Robin Hood discontinued their Nanaimo Mix a few years ago and so I simply omitted it from my baking list. This year I embarked on a mission to find a recipe for the base that would be similar to that of the mix. I googled and searched, but was unable to come up with a recipe. It was then that I decided to come up with my own. I was shocked when my very first attempt came out not only delicious, but held together and served perfectly. I was so excited I just had to share. In addition to it meeting my high expectations…my version is also GLUTEN FREE. I didn’t really intend to create a gluten-free Nanaimo Bar recipe, but as I worked on the recipe, I quickly realized that none of the ingredients I used contained gluten…bonus! So, for all you gluten-free people, here is a delicious gluten-free recipe that does not make you feel like you are sacrificing flavour or texture ~ in my opinion it’s better than some of the more traditional recipes! Obviously, not everyone will agree ~ but I really love my new base recipe which is more like a fudge.  I can’t wait for others to try it and let me know if they like it as much as I do!

Incredible Gluten Free Nanaimo Bars

Ingredients:

Base:

  • 2 1/4 cups semi-sweet (or dark) chocolate chips
  • 3/8 cup of coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon of *thick and creamy coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup of medium shredded coconut

Filling:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Bird’s Custard Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons cream + 2 teaspoons
  • 2 cups of icing sugar

Top Layer:

  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (or 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate squares)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Line a 9″ X 9″ square pan with parchment paper (or wax paper) and be sure it extends up over two of the sides so you have something to hold onto to remove the set dainties
  2. BASE:  Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave safe dish. (My microwave has a setting for melting chocolate, so I would do it in very short increments of 15 seconds or so and stir in between, if you don’t have a setting.) The chocolate does not need to melt completely in the microwave it will continue to melt as you stir it. DO NOT over heat.  Once melted, stir in the coconut milk and vanilla. Finally, add the coconut and walnuts to the mixture and stir well to combine.
  3. Spread the chocolate base mixture into the parchment lined pan. Chill in the freezer while you make the yellow filling, but do not allow to set completely or the two layers will separate when you serve.
  4. FILLING:  To make the yellow filling, cream the four filling ingredients together and beat until light. Spread over the chilled bottom layer. Transfer to the fridge to cool while you prepare the top layer. It should set about 10 minutes or so.
  5. TOP LAYER:  Melt the chocolate chips (or squares) and coconut oil in the microwave as in step 2. Once all lumps have been melted, immediately spread an even layer over the yellow filling. I will often spread quickly with a knife and then slide my pan back and forth on the counter to create a smooth even layer, but you have to work fast so the chocolate doesn’t begin to set before you do this.
  6. Transfer the finished Nanaimo Bar to the fridge to set the chocolate. Monitoring the setting is key ~ you want the chocolate to set enough that it is no longer gooey, but not so much that it will crack when you cut it. I usually set my timer and check it after 10 minutes and then about every 5 minutes until the top looks “just set”. I then remove it from the fridge and score the top layer. You may or may not want to slice right through to the bottom, but you want to score through the top layer so that it will not break and separate from the filling when you go to serve it. When I go to cut it into squares, I pull the entire piece out of the pan using the edges of the parchment paper to remove it. This allows me to cut nice even squares.
  7.  It can be stored in either the freezer or refrigerator. The freezer will give it more of a candy bar consistency while the fridge will make it more like fudge.
 
*The “thick and creamy coconut milk” is made by keeping the can of coconut milk in the fridge, so that the water and cream separate. When you open the can, discarded half the water and blended the remaining water with the milk to create a thick, creamy coconut milk.
*I substituted 1 tablespoon of cream with the thick and creamy coconut milk in the filling layer and loved it. I was tempted to try the whole amount, but didn’t. I might try that next time!

This might seem like several steps, but it is really quite quick and easy to whip up. If you decide to give it a try, please let me know how it turns out for you. I hope others enjoy it as much as we did!

Laundry Room Project Part 7: Vintage Sewing Machine Upcyle

From the very beginning of this laundry room project, I created a list of old/vintage items I might like to incorporate into the space. I had a vision for how I might use some vintage sewing machine parts and happened to find one on Kijiji that was in very bad shape. Of course, that was great news for me because I was able to pick it up for a mere $25. Score!!

I had intended to use the base, but as the room has evolved, I’m not sure that I will proceed as originally planned. However, I did take out the drawers, give them a light sanding and then added a layer of turquoise paint followed by a top coat of Simply White. Once completely dry, I distressed it slightly by sanding back through the layers of paint.

Although the vintage sewing machine came with some of the original hardware, I didn’t like it because unlike the rest of the machine, the handles were much less weathered looking. I decided to try to rust and patina them myself. I followed the instructions on Treasures from the Heart to get that perfect aged patina look.  As suggested in the tutorial….be patient. I was surprised how much the pieces continued to deteriorate even after many hours of sitting out. I did end up doing a second dunk in the vinegar/salt solution and once again left them to sit for several hours days. Time is definitely your friend in this process and patience does pay off. I’m so pleased I stuck with the original handles, as I now love them with rusty patina surface.

round wooden knobsFinally, I went through my crafting stash and found a bag of small wooden ball knobs. They made perfect little feet for the drawers. I glued them on with No Nails and gave them a quick coat of paint.

When I purchased the fabric for my laundry basket, I bought a second coordinating fabric to go with it. Although I wasn’t sure what I would use it for, I decided drawer liners would make the perfect accent in my new laundry room.

Loving these!!

DIY pin cushionWhen we originally began this whole process, I moved my scrapbooking room out of what is now my new laundry room. I moved most of my craft/scrapbooking things into what is now my very own space. The old spare bedroom (which has never actually held a bed) is now my dressing room and scrapbooking room. When this whole move took place, I decided that I could no longer keep my sewing machine upstairs, so all of my sewing gear got moved to the basement. The good news is that it is very portable, so I just carry it up when I plan to do any sewing and for the most part this works fine. However, I have found that it is quite a pain running to the basement everytime I need a needle and thread, so I decided to make one of the drawers into a mini sewing kit that would be the new home for my sewing scissors, measuring tape, seam ripper, a few spools of thread and my new make shift pin cushion. I simply added some batting to the top of the sealer lid and covered it with a fabric scrap that I hot glued in place. The ring for the sealer was spray painted white and voilá ….a coordinating pin cushion. Obviously for any real sewing job I’ll still need to make the trek to the basement, but this is a great solution for those tiny jobs that require a quick fix.

Laundry Room Project Part 6: Decorative Cabinet

Although I’m generally considered the Kijiji master in our house, it was Tim that found this little gem. I wanted a small cabinet to hold odds and ends and add a bit of weight to the far wall of my new laundry room. This ghastly piece was pretty ugly with its black paint and gold accents, but we loved the wrought iron behind the glass and at $30 it was a great deal!

The glass and iron pieces were secured in place by a few screws, so they were easily removed for painting. After roughing up the surface, I primed and painted the cabinet out in my favourite Benjamin Moore white ~ Simply White OC-117.  Originally, I gave the wrought iron a fresh coat of black spray paint, but when I put it back together I didn’t like the contrast and opted to take it apart and repaint the iron white. I love the white iron behind the glass and am pleased I took the time to re-do it. Spray paint comes in limited colours, so I was not able to get a perfect match, but I actually don’t mind that the whites are a little off.

 

Laundry Room Project Part 4: Wood Counter Tops

I’m feeling bad about the lack of activity on my blog, especially since I’ve had my new laundry room up and running for almost a month. September is super busy at work and in all honesty I find I don’t have much “gas in my tank” for much else during my down time. We have been plugging away at the finishing touches, but as for function – it is totally awesome! I can honestly say it has changed my life. I pop in loads every day or two and have absolutely no laundry building up. I used spend my entire weekend doing load after load and now it just seems to always be done – so thankful for this convenience.

We really wanted to transform this space at minimal cost and I have to say we have been pretty successful. I bought paint and we paid someone $100 to drill the hole for the dryer vent. Tim did all the plumbing and electrical and we managed to carry both appliances up ourselves (without too much difficulty I might add). The last steps to making the space functional involved some essential storage space and a counter. Originally we had planned to put in a sink, but after contemplating it, we decided we could always add one in later if we thought it was needed. To be honest, I don’t think it is something I will need and I knew it would take away some of the limited counter space, so we opted to wait.

Tim bought plain old 2 X 6’s for the counter for under $60. We had the screws and stain on hand, so there really weren’t additional costs. I know he spent several hours measuring, sanding, building and staining it, but I love the finished look. The dark stain looks great with the white/blue and ties in nicely to my dressing room/scrapbooking room which is the adjacent room. Projects like this are always harder than you initially expect because nothing is ever “square” in a 100 year old house. I am so proud of him and the great quality work he did. He did such nice work that my 10 year old appliances don’t even look half bad (although we do need to adjust them slightly as they aren’t quite level).

We picked up this Ikea cabinet through Kijiji for $60 (I think). It provides perfect storage for my vacuum, gift wrapping supplies and extra linen. As you can see, we still need to figure out the space below the counter top, install some shelves, the ironing board and a few other finishing details. We’ll continue to chip away and completing this project in the next few weeks, but at least it is up and running!

One of my favourite things about the laundry room is the awesome smell of freshness! I never even noticed this before because I always did “load and dash” when I had to do laundry in the basement. Now I love to linger in my new space and actually enjoy folding the clothes on the large counter top! It’s bright and pretty and smells great too! Feeling blessed.

Best Homemade Granola EVER!

My friend Robin passed on this recipe and I’m not yet sure whether to be thankful or not. It is like a tiny piece of heaven and seriously addictive. The best/worst part is that it’s pretty healthy. Not sure about you, but sometimes the most incredibly delicious nutritious snacks are the worst ~ I seem to be able to convince myself that a little more won’t hurt because it’s good for me. I love that this granola is grain free! This is where I should mentioned that if you or someone you live with has a nut allergy, bringing this into your house would be a huge mistake and ill advised. However, if you’ve managed to dodge that bullet and enjoy nuts ~ you absolutely MUST try this recipe. I take no credit for this incredible concoction, but believe it is one recipe I will never tire of.  It really is that good! (In my opinion of course.) The down side is that it’s pretty costly to make and for that reason alone, my friend said I would soon learn to ration it!

All the credit for this recipe goes to Gwen at baD.I.N.K.adink (which she adapted from the Paleo Cupboard). Not only is the recipe great, but I love the name of it ~ “Cracknola”!

Her Cracknola recipe consists of 4 cups of mixed raw nuts (I used cashews, pecans, almonds and macadamia ~ so delicious!), coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and dried cranberrries tossed in a wonderful coconut oil and honey mixture. Have I mentioned how good this is? For the full recipe, check out Gwen’s site. You will not be disappointed. I made it according to the recipe, but did bake it a little longer as is often the case with my oven.

It is delicious on yogurt and porridge, but great to snack on by the spoonful as well! Enjoy, but remember to proceed with caution….highly addictive!