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!
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!)
You’ll notice that I managed to use a camera angle that basically omits me from the frame…yay!
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.
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)
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.)
Combine dry ingredients and mix.
Add carrot, apple, coconut and dates/prunes. Combine well.
In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, honey, oil and vanilla together.
Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients. Mix well. It will be very thick and appear almost too dry.
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.)
Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before removing to a rack.
*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!
Cookie sheets, muffin tins, pie plates, bowls, mixer, rolling pins, cookie cutters, etc. Everything you need to bake!
The front counter was transformed with a custom awning and fabric skirt.
The tray was created using old wood candle sticks and stove element covers. Glued it all together and painted white for a sturdy display in the bakery.
We also made one rectangular felt cake.
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.
The imperial cookies were one of my favourites with a layer of red felt in the middle for jam. Unfortunately, they yellowed when the podge dried. 🙁
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:
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.
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.
Cylinder boxes from the dollar store were covered in felt to make cakes that the kids could decorate.
This felt cake was combined with a tin cake to create a double decker!
We also made one rectangular felt cake.
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.
Basic cookie tins were spray painted and then some painted details added to create basic cakes for the bakery.
Dollar store flowers with magnets glued to the bottom to create many cake decorating options for the kids.
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)
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.
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.
Who knew donuts could be made with old socks and panty hose!!
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’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
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.
6 cups (small bag) of miniature marshmallows
1 cup of boiling water
4 teaspoons of instant coffee
1 cup of whipping cream
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:
This 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.
2 cups whipping cream
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup strong, cold coffee
2 Tablespoons Kahlúa
Whip cream with sugar until soft peaks form. Add the coffee and kahlúa. Beat until stiff.
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 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!
A few summers ago, (back when my kids still wanted to go on bike rides with their mom) I spotted this old dilapidate chair on the curb just waiting to be claimed. To the embarrassment of my kids, I went and knocked on the door of the home it sat in front of and inquired about the chair. Sure enough, it was up for grabs…yay!! I asked if they would mind tucking it in their garage, so I could come back with the van and pick it up. They agreed and I was excited beyond words!
I picked it up and planted it in our garage. Unfortunately, when I had a closer look I realized that the new upholstery would entail more skill than any of my previous projects. There was no way to hide all of the tacks, as I had in the other simple projects I had done. As a result, I let fear get the better of me and avoided it for almost two years. It was only when Tim threatened to toss it that I knew I had to at least give it a try. I took apart the seat and back and used the very old and stinky upholstery pieces as a pattern for the new fabric. The chair frame required sanding just to rough up the surface in preparation for paint. I decided to paint it white (Surprise! Surprise!) and then got to work reinforcing the seat and adding additional padding (salvaged from our old leather chair).
You can see the old stuffing – probably hog hair although I’m not certain.
I traced the old seat cover on to brown paper and then used the paper pattern to cut out the new fabric.
Once the seat was re-built, it was time to try my hand at covering the seat, back and arms. I did my best to tack the pieces in place as inconspicuously as possible and then hot glued a simple lace rope around the edges to hide the staples/tacks. On close inspection, it’s certainly not perfect, but to the casual observer it looks pretty good for my first crack at real upholstering. If you asked an expert, I’m sure I did everything wrong, but when you consider this was picked up off the curb and the fabric was on clearance for $7…it’s quite the steal! Love these trash to treasure deals!
*As an after thought, I decided to paint and re-upholster the arm chair that we had kept from the original set we bought with our old antique dining room table. It was an easy job as the seat lifts off and all of the staples are hidden below. (This is the kind of project I like!!)
Love all the detail carved in the wood!
I love the way the chair turned out…not bad for $7!
As an after thought…I did the dining room chair too!
Many years ago (like maybe 15 or 20), we purchased this very beat up dining room set from a friend’s mom. The set included the table, 4 leaves and 6 chairs for $150. The set was solid oak, but in very rough shape. Initially, we attempted to sand the table down, but it was so badly beat up that we decided to paint it instead. This was back in the “Debbie Travis Painted House” days, and I decided to paint it a metallic silver paint and then “antiqued” it with black. The first transformation was very 90’s and actually looked quite nice. I made slip covers for the chairs and this dining room set served us well for many years. These pictures are pretty old, so they are actually photos of photos, so not the best quality.
BEFORE: Original oak table
BEFORE: Original table leaves
Only shot I have of the table when it was freshly painted, before the chairs were ready.
AFTER: Although you can’t see the table in this picture, when the slip covers were done, it looked pretty good!
In 2006, we bought a house through a private sale and the owners were selling off everything because they were moving to Hawaii. We ended up purchasing a few items from them, including a very modern-designed glass table. I loved that table for many years, but eventually the glass just didn’t clean-up the way it used to and I grew to hate it. When we first bought and began using the glass table, I was reluctant to give up the old oak set and so we stored it and moved it to our current home in 2008. It sat covered in dust for many years, but as the glass table lost its lustre (so to speak), I began to think about the old oak table.
The sanded table sat in the basement collecting dust for about 2 years before I could convince Tim to buy into my idea!
I stripped the paint and sanded it down to bare wood. Unlike when we did the first transformation, we now owned a belt sander and although not perfect, the finish was much better than the first time around. The other factor working to our advantage was that distressed, beat-up pieces were actually sought after design elements now. However, there was still one major obstacle to this becoming our dining room table for the second time and that was size. Without the leaves, the table was about 42″ square and was way too small for our large dining room. Although we still had the 4 leaves, they had always been a bit warped and I hated the idea of having 4 leaves permanently sitting in the table. I just don’t like the look of it, especially with the condition of our leaves. Eventually, I came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea…we could convert the table into a plank style table. I love the look of planked tables and the less than perfect leaves would have no bearing on the design since planks and imperfections seem to go hand-in hand. The trouble was I needed Tim in a big way for this project and he did not agree with my idea and refused to cut up the oak table. The condition of the glass dining room table continued to diminish as I continued to plead my case with many pictures of harvest style plank tables from Pinterest and various other sites on the web. It took a couple of years, but eventually he too saw the potential and agreed to take on the project.
He began by determining the ideal plank size. We wanted to get as many planks out of the actual table top and leaves as we could or at least figure out the plank width that would yield the smallest amount of discarded wood. In the end, we cut 10 planks and ended up with a finished table top of 42″ X 64″. Because the original table slid open to accommodate the leaves, there was a gap between the two ends of the table (when viewing from the side) where the leaves would sit. He purchased two long pieces of oak to replace the two original smaller pieces on each side of the table. The ends were fine because the width of the table did not change. It comfortably sits 6 and we can squeeze 8 around in a pinch. The size is perfect for our dining room and I absolutely love the finished table. We chose to stain it dark and the imperfections only add to the piece. This table is one of my favourite furniture make-overs! I can’t believe that this table is once again, looking so amazing after all these years!
Here is a good shot of the side of the table. The piece running along the side just under the top is the one that had to be replaced on both sides.
Of course, there is nothing like the built in shoe storage that we installed in the risers of our new stairs. Tim did an awesome job of custom building the stairs and drawers for the mudroom and I am thrilled with the results, but the reality is, not all of the shoes are going to be put in drawers! What about those shoes/boots that we are wearing on a regular basis? I am not naive enough to think my family is going to hide every pair of shoes neatly away in the stairs, so my solution was a custom boot rack made with scraps of wood and river rock.
DIY Wooden Boot Tray:
I made this simple DIY wooden boot tray out of scraps of wood we had in the basement and then stained it to match the dark hardwood floors. I then purchased a bag of river rock ($8) and filled the tray with rocks. I love the simplicity of the boot rock and the natural element of the rocks. So simple and yet so much more visually appealing that the old plastic boot trays we used prior to the renovation.
The mudroom reno is nowhere near complete. Aside from some smaller projects and accessorizing, we have three big projects to complete and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. All of them require Tim’s handiwork and expertise and his schedule has made it pretty difficult to make any headway. You can watch for these future updates as we complete the projects:
Kitchen Door Frame: We still need to rebuild the door frame between the kitchen and the mudroom (at the top of the stairs).
Stair Rails: We have antique newel posts and oak rails to add to the stairs. Because we are using old posts, there is some rebuilding and reconfiguring to make this work. T0 be honest, this job seems a bit daunting!
Basement Stairwell Walls: The stairs and walls to the basement from the mudroom are cement. They are poorly made and uneven (of course!) We still need to figure out how to tie the walls into the new design and come up with some sort of facelift for the stairs themselves. Again, lots of work and not a job you can do on a day off!
If if takes until next summer to knock these off that is fine with me, but I am really hoping we can have the mudroom completed before returning to school next September! In the mean time, there won’t be many more mudroom posts!