Hi! This is my old blog that is no longer updated. Please visit my new website for new content and most of the content from this blog as well.

This old blog will be left up so as not to mess up people who have linked to recipes through Pinterest, Favorites etc.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Glass Vases and Cats Don't Mix, Until I Cat Proofed Them.

I have these three glass vases that I put some high qual. fake flowers in. I put them on the tank of the toilet to add a splash of colour to the bathroom. All was well until my husband caught our kitten pawing at them and he put them somewhere high to prevent a disaster. Then we were left with a rather plain looking thrown so something had to be done. I bought a refill pack of command hook stickies and used the stickies to glue the vases to the toilet tank. Now Cheshire can paw at them and they will stay put. In fact he was trying to knock them down as I was sticking the vases there. He's such a little monster. I love command hooks and stickies, I use them for everything. I never follow the directions either, I will start using the hooks immediately instead of waiting an hour. So far I have not lived to regret it :).

Installing Task Lighting for Increadibly Cheap

I am really proud of this project. I have been meaning to do it for a long time. I really like under cabinet task lighting but I live in an apartment and cannot afford such luxuries. I bought 6 Dot-it lights at the Dollar Store for $1.25 each. I bought two 12 packs of AAA batteries at XS cargo for about $7 each.

All I did was insert the batteries (3 in each light), peel off the paper and stick the lights under the cabinets where I wanted them. Some of them did not stick so I took out my trusty Command hook stickies and used those to stick them back to the cupboards. It turned out really well. Even my husband thought they were cool. You can turn them off and on by pressing them. All in all the total project cost less than $25 if you include the command stickies which I already had on hand (I always have them on hand, they are like my duck tape). PS. Please take no notice of my messy kitchen, it was a home decor weekend, it gets messy :).

Cheap and Easy Twist Ties.

These aren't super fancy and the project takes a minute to do. You really can't even call it a project. We are constantly running out of twist ties so I scrupulously save every one I can get my hands on. Well, no more. I bought a pack of pipe cleaners for 50 cents and cut each one into three pieces. Problem solved.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Classy on a Budget Front Hall: Spicing Up a Boot Mat with River Rocks

This wasn't my idea so I can't take credit for it. I saw this at my massage therapist's place and I really liked it so I copied them. I bought a thick mat at Zellers for about $9.00 and 8 bags of river rocks at the Dollar store for a buck each so give or take the whole project cost me about $20. If you really want to thrift it up you could collect your own river rocks for free. I like the rocks, it makes the front hall a little less boring. Cheshire likes the rocks too, he plays with them but so far has not taken them out of the tray. The rocks are functional as the salty water will drip down past the rocks and our boots won't be soaking in it. Anything to help my boots survive the winter. It's so salty here, though so far it has been a pretty mild November so maybe it won't be so bad this year.

Great Value Village Find!!

I like Value Village. I find it a little expensive for used stuff at times but occasionally I find something awesome there and it makes it all worth it. I bought this thing for $3.00. It was really dirty when I got it but I scrubbed it until it was shinny again. I know it is a serving tray for little sandwiches or treats, not too sure what it is called. It's pretty though and I am excited to use it someday. It's quite tiny which makes me think that treats or sandwiches used to be a lot smaller back in whatever day this is from. I think it is made of copper and it is definitely made in England as "Made in England" is written on it four times. Can't wait to use it to present some squares!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ginger for an upset stomach and congestion

Pic by Frank C.Muller

I few years ago I would occasionally have a little trouble breathing clearly. As a kid I was given several different inhalers and antihistamines, I remember few if any working and the majority left me with more difficulties than without the drug. While still in high school, before I know much about alternative medicine, I found mint tea would help clear my airways. Unfortunately since then I have had trouble finding mint tea that was strong enough to have the same effect. I tried ginger tea a few years back and it worked like a charm. It was an accidental discovery as I did not take the tea to clear out my throat but it worked so I have been doing it ever since (well, I used to back when I would catch colds, it has been a while). A quick search online shows that lots of people use it as cold relief. It also helped to relieve the runny nose I had at the time. I will drink it when I go to visit my parents because I am allergic to the town they live in for some strange reason.

I have used ginger tea to alleviate an upset stomach from time to time, but it is a God send for fixing menstrual cramps. I would have it twice a day during that time and it allowed me to live my life as per normal, otherwise I would be buckled over in pain all day. The effects lasted me about 8 hours. I don't know what I would have done with out it.

The way I make ginger tea, which may not be the proper way I'm not sure, is to cut a medallion with about a cm in height (little less than 1/2") of the ginger root and peel off the skin. Mince it up a bit and put it in boiling water to steep. You can put it in the water and strain later or you can add it to a tea infuser instead. Cover and let it steep for 5-10

A Throw Together Cocktail

This drink is a result of not being prepared. Lack of preparation can inspire creativity out of necessity. I wonder if the encouragement of constant preparedness makes boy scouts less creative? 

I apologize for the pictures. I took them before I learned anything about close-up settings and food photography. My newer pics will be clearer hopefully. This drink is easy and tastes really good so I was rewarded for my lack of planning. 
  • Handful of frozen strawberries
  • Handful of frozen raspberries
  • 2 oz banana liquor
  • 2 oz peach schnapps
  • 2 oz water

Blend above ingredients until smooth. Add handful of ice, blend until slushy. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Detox Weekend. Create Your Own Weekend Retreat at Home for Cheap

Wish this was my bathroom

It is easy to forget about yourself. You have a lot on the go. So many commitments to juggle all the time it is easy to lose sight of one important person, yourself. You, like everybody else, deserve to have some time devoted to you. So my challenge to you is to make some. I challenge you to devote a whole weekend to your own health and well being. I will outline a few simple steps to ensuring you get the most out of your very own weekend retreat at home.
1.       Make your plan.
You don’t want to have to be running around fetching things during your retreat weekend. That is not relaxing. So have a plan in place ahead of time and get all of your stuff together before you start. While you are putting your plan together, keep a separate list of Stuff to Get. It is a good idea to organize this list by activity in case you change your mind on one or two. You don’t want to be buying unnecessary things.
a.       Make up a list of potential things to do.
The possibilities are endless here. You should focus on calm activities that reduce stress but there is nothing wrong with having a few active and exciting things in the list. You would not want to get bored.  I would recommend splitting your list into fun, pampering and stress release. 
b.      Make up a list of potential things to eat.
Often when you pay to go to a top of the line retreat, the food will be prepared for you and will be extra healthy. You may not be able to afford to fly a top chef in to cook for you over the weekend but you can plan out a simple, health menu and have the ingredients on hand. Try to focus on quick and easy recipes. I ate almost all raw food on my last detox. It was fun to try out a new type of diet and I added a bunch of tasty recipes to my repertoire. You don’t have to try a new diet on your weekend. You can do whatever you want as this weekend is all about you. But I would recommend eating healthy as your body is an important part of you and it could use a rest too.
I would recommend organizing your list by breakfasts, lunches and dinners so it is easy to drop these meals into your schedule.
c.       Make up your schedule
Drop your favorite things from the two previous steps in to a schedule. You can use an outlook calendar or Google calendar, which is free. You don’t have to do everything that you thought of in the last two steps. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself and it is nice to have a few things left over for your next detox weekend. Once you have dropped all of your meals and activities into your schedule your plan is pretty much done.
2.       Get prepared.

a.       Get everything together
Look over your plan and any notes you have and make sure your Stuff to Get list is complete. Then a few days before your weekend, go get the stuff on your list.
b.      Tell your family what you are up to so they don’t get in your way.
Remember, you deserve this time. Don’t let nagging kids rob you of your awesome weekend. If you can, have activities already to go to keep kids occupied. Also there is no harm in involving kids or your spouse in the fun. If you are giving yourself a manicure, they can be giving themselves one at the same time. Older kids can even be employed to help with cooking or cleaning up. Or there are always babysitters and relatives.

c.       Prepare in advance.
Anything that can be done in advance should be done in advance if at all possible.  If there are any recipes that you don’t want to be slaving over that you really want to have, you could make them ahead of time. If you are doing any spa at home treatments you could get everything you will need together in one spot so you don’t have to run all over the house collecting stuff on your weekend.
3.       Enjoy your weekend!
That’s it. You made it. The next part is simple.  Just follow your schedule for the rest of the weekend. Don’t let anything stress you out. Try to get a full night of sleep every night and eat three meals a day.  If you don’t follow your schedule to a T that’s ok, don’t stress about it.  So now, just sit back and relax, distress and replenish. You have earned yourself an at home retreat.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Important Lifeskill: Know how to Jump Start a car

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had an exciting weekend. My husband and I drove up to Peggy’s cove where our car battery died. In fact, it seems like everyone we spoke to had survived a similar ordeal leading me to think that it would be useful for everyone to know how to jump start a car.

  1. Don’t follow my example: Be prepared
    You should carry the following items in your car.
    i. Jumper cables
    ii. Work gloves
    iii. Wire brush
  2. Check to see if your car is not starting because of the battery.
    a. Look for electrical problems. If your headlights are dim or your dash lights are flickering, you likely have a dying battery. Turn on your lights and turn on the ignition. If they dim, you know it’s your battery.
    b. If your electricity is still working but you are getting the machine gun noise, it is likely that your battery lines are corroded and may need a cleaning.
  3. Find a working car and park it close by. Do not allow the two cars to touch. Turn off all electrical components in both cars. This includes lights, radios, fans, etc…
  4. Put on your work gloves.
  5. Find your batteries
    a. Find the battery in your dead car and the battery in the working car. Batteries are usually under the hood but can be found in the trunk also. It looks like a box with black and red nubs. There will be wires attached to the nubs. If you are having difficulty locating the battery, look it up in your car manual.
    b. Locate the positive and negative terminals. The positive terminals will have + sign and will be a red nub with a red cable attached to it. The negative will have a minus sign and be a black nub with a black cable.
    c. Inspect both batteries for cracks, leaks or other damage. If there is damage DON’T JUMP THE CAR.
    d. Use the stiff wire brush to remove any corrosion from the terminals and the cables. Make sure the cables are connected to their nubs when you are done.
  6. Untangle your jumper cables. There will be red clamps and black clamps. These should never touch each other or you may be shocked.
    a. Connect a red clamp to the red terminal on the dead battery.
    b. Connect a red clamp to the red terminal on the live battery.
    c. Connect a black clamp to the black terminal of the live battery.
    d. Connect the last black clamp to grounding metal on the dead car. This is usually shinny metal that is attached to the engine. A nut or bolt will work. This will cause a spark but that is normal.
    e. Make sure the cables are not dangling anywhere that they could get caught by moving parts.
  7. Start the live car, let it idle for a few minutes. You can rev the car a little for 30-60 seconds to help it charge.
  8. Try starting the dead car. If it doesn’t start, turn both cars off and slightly twist all four clamps to ensure a good connection. Turn on the live car and charge for 5 minutes. If this does not work after a few tries, it’s time to try replacing the battery.
  9. If your car starts, take off the cables in the reverse order. Remember, don’t let any cables dangle in the compartment and don’t let the clamps touch each other until completely disconnected.
    a. Disconnect the black clamp from the grounding metal on the dead car.
    b. Disconnect the black clamp from the black terminal of the live battery.
    c. Disconnect the red clamp from the red terminal on the live battery.
    d. Disconnect the red clamp from the red terminal on the dead battery.
Now you know how to safely jump start a car. You should memorize this process or have it printed and on hand in your car. These directions are a lot more thorough than the ones in my car manual but always consult your manual in case your car has special directions. There are lots of great websites with information on this subject that you can print to have on hand. You never know when your battery is going to die so always be prepared :)

The Awesome Power of Sprouts

Sprouts are great and you should grow them. The sprout is the new growth that originates from a germinated seed. Sprouts are jam packed full of nutrients. They are tasty, crispy and can be grown at any time during the year. Commercial sprouts are relatively pricey and have been linked to numerous e.coli and salmonila outbreaks. So the best way to enjoy the goodness of sprouts without losing a kidney is to grow your own. Growing sprouts is easy to do, safer than buying them, cost effective and healthy.

To grow sprouts, all you do is put half to a quarter cup of seeds into a jar. Fill the jar with water to soak the seeds for the time indicated on the chart or until you notice some tiny white shoots showing. Put on some mesh with a rubber band than tip the jar upside down to drain. Rinse the sprouts once every morning and once every night until they are done. You can tell they are done by eating one or you can follow a chart. Charts can be downloaded from anywhere but this one is pretty good. Pop them in the fridge or eat them when they are done. This process takes almost no time each day. It is easy to have a couple jars on the go at any one time.

As sprouts taste best raw, there are a few food safety issues you should be aware of. Commercial sprouting facilities seem to have a lot of trouble with contamination. There have been 37 salmonila and e.coli outbreaks linked to sprouts in the last 40 years in Canada. The cause of these outbreaks is fecal contamination of the sprouts at the growing facility or distribution centre. These contaminants can cause symptoms ranging from cramps to kidney damage to death. Because sprouts are most often eaten raw they are not exposed to the high temperatures used to kill bacteria unlike many other foods. I would think twice about ordering a dish with raw, commercially grown sprouts at any restaurant.

Fortunately for us, we are unlikely to expose our home grown sprouts to fecal matter. Just be sure to use a clean jar, rinse your seeds well and don’t put raw meat in your sprout jar. If you are still worried, use organic seeds as any manure that is used to fertilize organic foods has to be composted to a point where it will not pose such a risk. If there is a funky odour from your sprouts, toss the batch. I have sprouted a number of times and I have never had to throw out a batch. One last point on safety, be sure to choose seeds that produce edible sprouts. All these listed here are safe. Red kidney bean sprouts are poisonous. I did not know this when I started sprouting and I tend to sprout any random seed in my kitchen. I was lucky because the kidney beans are more difficult for me to reach I did not try to sprout them.

Sprouting is cost effective. Most seeds can be purchased cheaply at bulk barn or other grocery stores. The resulting sprout is much bigger than its seed. It is literally pennies to sprout things like lentils or barley.

Sprouts are currently taking off as a new super food. They are one of the most complete nutritional foods out there. If you think about it, this makes sense. Plants want their seeds to survive so they pump them full of good things so that each one has the food stores necessary to survive once they leave the parent plant. Sprouts contain almost everything that their original seed contained and sometimes more, especially if exposed to a bit of light. These little wonders have been known to improve digestive efficiency. Broccoli sprouts contain sulforaphane which fights cancer by supporting anti-oxidant activity. Many sprouts contain chemo-protectants which benefit immune function and resist cell mutation and thus, cancer.

When you grow your own sprouts you know where they came from and what they have been exposed too. Unlike large commercial sprout farms, you don’t need contaminated fertilizers to speed up production. You don’t need to use pesticides or fungicides on them to keep down pests like disease carrying mice (poor mice). When you grow at home, you are aware of the purity of your food. So, now you know how very easy it is to grow sprouts and you have some guide lines to get you started. You know the safety concerns surrounding commercial sprout farms and have some food safety tips of your own. Sprouting is time and cost effective. Your final product is both healthy and tasty. Now all you need is a jar, some mesh and seeds, and elastic band and water and you are ready to sprout. So try it, you be glad you did.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I planned this home decor weekend and then...

I was all ready to go. I had planned out everything I was going to do and bought everything that I needed. I woke up on Saturday morning with my plan and started working right away. Nothing went according to plan. The cupboard I bought was missing a door and I definitely bought it with two doors, it must have blown away in the ridicules wind we had on Friday night. I got paint on my jacket and the paint I bought refused to be thinned with turpentine. Some other stuff happened that I blow way out of proportion. I needed a break and hubby wanted one too so we brewed some coffee, grabbed some biscotti and jumped in the car for a drive.

We ended up at Peggy's Cove where we watched the waves and had our snack. It was a nice drive out but when we tried to go home the car would not start. We didn't have a cell phone with us, we didn't have any money, not even a quarter. We were an hour away from anything. There is nothing at Peggy's cove, no mechanic, no taxi, nothing but powerful waves and a quaint little village. There is a shuttle that works at certain times of the year. Fortunately for us, my grade 8 teacher was on a tour there. That was so crazy, I would rank her in the top 5 of people who have had the greatest influence on my life. We got a ride back on their tour bus. Everyone was so nice to us and we were sooo lucky to run into her and her crew.

We got back rather late so I didn't do much work on the house. The next day we drove back out to Peggy's cove with a battery, jumper cables, tools, etc only to find the road closed. We drove back up there again on Monday night to finally jump the car. It took the jump and we high tailed it back to Halifax. Next weekend I will restart my decor weekend extraordinaire and I will not be leaving town this time for a break.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Back From Detox

I tried my first detox and lived to tell the tale. I initially planned it to go for a full month but that is a rather long time for a first time. I stayed on it for two weeks and figured that was good enough for a first try. I learned a lot, like that I had no idea what I was doing, but that is ok, I will keep trying things and eventually I'll be an expert.

The height of summer is not the best time to start a detox, especially in Halifax where a nice summer is a rare occurrence. There is too much of a draw to the pub patio. Any other season seems better suited for a detox. The beach also proved to be a substantial distraction from the things I had planned to do every night, like yoga and meditation.

One thing that worked out fabulously was the food. I ate about 85% raw. Most recipes were from the book "Raw Food Cleanse" by Penni Shelton and they were delicious. My husband even liked them, though he would cook him half. I quickly got into the habit of drinking smoothies for breakfast and having a salad for lunch. I felt really good, I had so much more energy than I ever thought possible. I made a rookie mistake and o.d.'d on junk as soon as I was off the plan. I don't feel so great anymore but now that my honeymoon with sugar is over I will start to apply the principles I learned to my day to day life and see if I can get some of that energy back. I won't be posting what I did because it was only about 60% successful. I will post when when I figure out what I'm doing.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Little bit of a break

I've had to take a bit of a break with developing the site for about a week as I have had other projects on the go. I had to give a speech and for the last few days I've been heavily researching some topics in nutrition and detox. I will post the detox plan I decide to go with online. It will take me a few days to develop it as I have a few books to get through. I really want to do this right so I am taking a lot of time to research. I'm planning on incorporating massage and acupuncture into the plan. I'm pretty excited about the acupuncture, it's something I have never tried. So more to come on that soon☺

Thursday, June 10, 2010

First blog post on my new site!

I am so excited. I have been working on this site since September (2009) and it is almost ready for publishing. I would like to add a few more posts. I will also cull a few pages that I wont really be able to fill up quickly and then I will be done. . . sort of. This type of thing requires constant work as you have to be adding new content to your site regularly. This is great though because it will be a creative outlet that is always right there, ready to be used with little prep work. I have lots of ideas for articles and have purchased a number of books (mostly cheap) to provide inspiration. I should be publish ready in a few months time, maybe sooner if I get really motivated.