Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Star Jar....

Okay, so Alicia's sons teacher had the coolest idea!  It is human nature to focus on the things in our lives that are hard, frustrating, challenging, aggravating, maddening, get the idea.  So, what can we do to help teach our children to focus on the positive things in their lives?  Or to look at the positive things about themselves?

So, here is what we came up with!  An upcycled kraft peanut butter container decorated with paper and stickers from around the house.  Easy to personalize for each child!

And inside, there are large sized popsicle sticks for either you or you and your child together to write on all the things that they are good at, "stars" at!  I happened to have enough star stickers to put a star at the top of each popsicle stick!  (By the way, I was able to find these sticks at the dollar store for $1.50 as opposed to the $5 we paid last time at Michaels!)

So, what kinds of things do you do to encourage your children and promote a healthy self confidence?

Blessings, Nadine

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pinterested......are you?

Okay, so I am sure most of you know about Pinterest but what do we do with all the pins that we create?  Is anyone actually using them or doing anything with all the cool things we see?

I know for sure a few friends have tried things out.  My friend Deana, over at Little Pink Cupcakes made the really cool laundry basket tower for dealing with piles of unwanted laundry.  My friend Dot, over at Busted Button was actually the creator of one piece I found floating around on pinterest.  So, I figured it was my turn to do something.

My little guy and I tried out the homemade crayon recipe!  Who doesn't have kids and a million little half pieces of crayons?  But the question was, how good would these new crayons be?  Better than the not so great $1 pack of crayons from the dollar store or the cheap bin at Michales?  Good enough to compare to the $5 pack of crayola crayons?  Check it out...

First, you have to find all the bits and pieces, peel the  paper off of them, and break them into smaller pieces (a pair of kitchen shears can be helpful here!).
Next, you get your handy dandy helper....
Who beautifully fills small silicone muffin trays with the broken crayon pieces.
Preheat the oven to 235 degrees and bake for 15 minutes or until crayon pieces completely melted.

I found in our new convection oven that we didn't need a full 15 minutes, just keep an eye on it.
Once done, let the new crayons cool completely in the trays.  Once they are completely cooled, they can be popped out and used or packaged for sharing!
So, to answer my own question....yes, new crayons can be made out of old pieces in a relatively painless, cheap and simple way!  The cheap crayons don't do as well as their more expensive counter parts.  We had a few cheap crayons in the mix and they seemed to lose most of their color and the wax floated to the top.  We rubbed the cheap wax off the new crayons and they worked great after that!

Got any great ideas for making new crayons or what to do with them?  We would love to see and hear from you!

Blessings, Nadine.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Green Pasta Experiment

Ok, so I admit it, it was my drawer.. but I'm sure you can all relate to that one drawer in your kitchen where everything ends up.. and by the way, I only have 3 drawers in the kitchen so the stuff has to go somewhere! As Nadine had mentioned, I did bribe her with lunch in exchange for her organizational skills.

Here is the recipe I saw on Pinterest and then later found on my friends Facebook status.  I kept everything relatively the same, however, I used rice pasta (to stay gluten free) and I added about 1-2 Tablespoons of basil/tomato goat cheese.

The picture is of the full recipe. The recipe was a great size for the two of us to be completely full after licking the bowls clean, I mean eating everything off our plates.  My one suggestion if you are planning on trying this one out, is to go light on the lemon juice.  I didn't have any actual lemons on hand so I ended up just using lemon juice from the bottle - we both found it on the verge of being too that a word?  Lemony?  Well it us now and I'm sure you know what I'm talking about!

So would I try this recipe again?  Absolutely!  Do I think my picky eaters at home would eat this for dinner?  Absolutely not... I think it would be too green for my DH and well the kids aren't into the exotic green colour of the pasta.  But I have promised myself that one day I will convince them to love avocados just as much as I do.. speaking of avocados, I should share my guacamole recipe with you soon.. mmm so good!  Until next time,

Happy Eating!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Day Full of Randomness

Ok, so honestly, most of the week has been full of random inefficient  mostly unsuccessful days :)  Other than a few organizational genius events here and there!  But in all excuse making fairness, my oldest has been home with a chest cold all week and my little one now seems to have the stomach flu.  But despite all that......craftiness happened! 
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I got tired of everyone asking who the girl in the picture frame was! (I don't know, she came with the frame, honest!)   Why I had her in the frame still years after being given it, I don't know......

But it was all worth it because look at it now!
I cut out a circle of pink card stock and prettied it up with some scrapbooking accessories that have been lying around unused I have been dying to use for ages!

The glass was still intact (which is a miracle in my house) so after a good clean with some Bon  Ami I have a dry erase "To Do List" on my kitchen counter that can be updated easily and is in site for quick reminders!

The other randomness of today?

I took a few minutes to admire my always clean and organized bedroom closet....

And yes, the closet is ALWAYS this clean and tidy!  That's why I didn't get a picture that showed the mess on the floor all around it.  And no, the cupboard doors aren't really purple, nor are there really butterflies, bumblebees and fairies on the wallpaper in our awesome master bedroom.

Spent a little time on pinterest looking for a way to do my hair without having to brush it.....

We did a quick safety check around the house today....

We're good.  There will be no falls in our home today from a height of greater than 3 inches! Whew!  Thank goodness for that :)

Not sure how we ended up with this set-up but he seems to like it so I won't complain!

And then it was time for a daily adventure.  We adventured a whole 3 blocks in the car in the pooring rain to help a dear friend with some organizational issues...

So all of the things on the counter came out of that one drawer that
is open in the picture below here.  Now everyone has a junk drawer!  We discussed this to help make my unnamed friend feel better.

However, not everyone has this much junk in their utensil drawer!

But she bribed me with some delicious lunch to organize it for her!  I got so distracted by the food I forgot to take an after  picture to show everyone.  But don't worry, I'm sure my friend will post one when she shares the recipe for the Pasta and Avocado we ate for lunch.  Stay tuned!  And feel free to share with us any of you unproductive activities...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pizza Fun

I don't know how many times now that I have restarted writing this blog entry.. I think I am a bit rusty at it! Today the sun was shining and the temperature was beautiful on the Island. My oldest was home from school with a bad cough for the second day in a row - but I can guarantee you that he is going back tomorrow no matter what! He was the epitome of stir crazy.

Anyways, a while back my husband kneaded out an extra batch of pizza dough, so we decided to see how well it would freeze. Today I pulled it out of the freezer to see if it would still be as good as the first batch he had made. Low and behold it was! So after a long day of speaking nicely to my children about their volume level when the little one was sleeping... wait who am I kidding, after spending the day arguing and yes out right yelling at them to be quiet while their sister was asleep in her crib, I asked them to help me make supper.

Aiden was more than happy to help with the rolling of the dough. ( Speaking of the dough you can find the recipe at the bottom of this post.) After we rolled it out we cut it into circles using whatever I could find, which happened to be a pyrex round dish that worked perfectly. As you can see Aiden was having a blast being a "cooker" as he would call it!

So after rolling out the dough we cut half of it into circles for the kids to "decorate" themselves. Zoanna had no problem deciding what to put on her pizza, o and don't worry there was no confusing whose pizza was whose... Zoanna was very concerned about that - funny thing is when we served the hot pizza at supper she looked at me and said "Mom, you know I don't like to eat pizza" haha..made me smile.

I guess in the end, my day wasn't so terrible. I managed to find a rainbow among the storm clouds of stir crazy children! The moral of the story as you can plainly see is... well I don't know what it is. I just know that I love those smiling faces! AND we enjoyed cooking together. So how do you combine your favorite things? I love being in the kitchen and I usually like being in there alone, but this time for pizza making, I can make an exception!

Happy Eating!


Pizza Dough:
2 1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast
1 1/3 Cup warm water
3 1/2 - 3 3/4 Cups Flour
1 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbls sugar
1 Tbls salt

1. Combine yeast and water and proof it.
2. In separate bowl combine the remaining ingredients.
3. Add proofed yeast and water mixture to dry ingredients and knead for roughly 10 minutes, until dough is soft and no longer sticky - adding flour as needed.
4. Cover and let rise until double in size, around 90 minutes
5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
6. Roll dough into a ball and let rest for 10 minutes.
7. Prepare your baking pan by dusting it with a layer of cornmeal
8. Using your hands or a rolling pin, shape dough into desired shape
9. Place dough on prepared pan.  Brush with extra oil and dent the dough with your thumb to prevent air pockets from forming when the pizza is cooking.
10.  Top your pizza with all your favorite toppings and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes.


As an aside note, after step 4, you can wrap your dough ball in plastic wrap and freeze it for another day.  We often double the recipe so we can have a meal that night and plan ahead for another meal.  See our menu boards for some ideas on how to plan ahead.

And yet a little more organization....

Okay, I think that I have just spent the best $3 ever!  I decided to continue on with my organizing spree, but I wanted to pick an area that really needed a pick me up.  Funny enough, the area that first came to mind was under my kitchen sink.  It was overflowing with recycling, stained on the bottom from past water leaks, and just ugly and disorganized.

Okay, so I did happen to take out the recycling and clear away some of the clutter before remembering to take the before picture.

I picked up 2 rolls of contact paper at the dollar store for $1.50 per roll, and 2 new baskets in pink that picked up the pink pinstripe in the contact paper.  And there was enough left over to cover over the garbage can as well...

Voila.....a much more appealing cupboard!

And one final touch, I needed a place to store the
                                                                                rubber gloves as I got rid of the old container that held several pairs.  I used a fancy clothes pin bought a while back at Michaels (6 epoxied clothespins for $1.50).  I stuck it on with doubled sided foam tape and I now have somewhere out of the way but easily accessible to hang my gloves. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A little more organization never hurt anybody!

So lately all the blogs that I have stumbled across or follow have been talking about organization!

I signed back up for Fly Lady, which in the past, has done wonders to help me keep my house functional, clean and organized.  It's really worth checking out.  You get daily emails with a 15 minutes task to do, special challenges, and monthly focuses.  It's an awesome cleaning plan where they constantly encourage to do what you can when you can.

I also stumbled across a blog, that initially I told myself I would NEVER look at :)  And you know what happens when you say never!  My initial issue was that I read the blog address (and therefore the blog title) wrong.  The blog address is  Now, it would make sense to read it as imperfect homemaking, but I however only saw I'm Perfect homemaking.  Maybe a sore point I need to deal with?!?  This site has a great series done back in October on 31 days to organizing your home.  I did day one and loved the changes.  Picture is coming, i forgot a before  picture, and i will take an after one once DH hangs the new photo frame turned white board for remembering what is in the bin to give back to others!

And that was it, once I started, I just couldn't stop.  I saw a neat  picture with cool jars for keeping laundry soap in.  Well, I want to display my homemade laundry soap in a pretty jar too, along with the extra baking soda and vinegar for stains and smells.  This time, I did remember the before and after pics. 

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So, what cool things have you guys been doing to organize your household?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Homemade Laundry Soap

I guess it has been about just over two years ago that we bought our second largest appliance purchase - our front loading LG washer and dryer. Funny enough we had to sell them when we moved from Alberta to BC in December (now the cleaning pair sits in Nadine's laundry room!). Being the first time we owned an HE washing machine, I had to take a harder look at the laundry soap that we were using. My husband's parents had purchased an HE washing machine and, unaware of the importance of the type of laundry soap they needed, they used regular detergent. In about a year they had to do some serious repairs because of the damage caused by too much suds and bubbles. So in their hard learned lesson I knew that I needed to find an alternative. At first we started by using Costco's Kirkland HE laundry soap, but soon realized that the price was pretty high despite the savings being that it was from Costco. So in conversation with my good high school friend living in Ontario, I found my first solution. Here is the recipe of the first attempt at making homemade, eco friendly laundry soap:

1 Bar of Soap, grated
1 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
3 Gallons of water

Bring 4 cups of the water to just under a boil, add the grated bar of soap, stir until dissolved
Heat 3 gallons of water - I just turned the kitchen tap to the hottest setting
Add the washing soda, and Borax to the 3 gallons of hot water, stir until dissolved
Add the soap mixture, stir and let set for roughly 24 hours.
Use 1 Cup of "gel" for every regular laundry load.

Now I found that this laundry soap worked extremely well for us. At the time we had a potty training youngster who had more than a few accidents in bed and in their clothes, and every time this detergent would get the smell out. The one major downside to this recipe was the space factor. Finding a container large enough to hold the "gel". As well, the mixture would separate on occasion - no big deal really, I just kept a long wooden spoon on hand to mix back together.

I used this for about 6 months or so when I found myself talking with my same friend from Ontario. She had come across a new laundry soap recipe that she enjoyed. It goes something like this:

1 Bar of Soap
1/2 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
1/2 Cup oxi-clean (optional)
5-10 drops of essential oil (I use lemon)

Mix all ingredients together
Use 1-2 tablespoons depending on the dirtiness of your laundry load.
Enjoy! Alicia.

I would have to second all that Alicia has to say :)  This laundry soap is amazing! It's cheap!  And it works.  And for those of us who live on the peninsula, you only need to use 1/2 tbsp per load as the local residential information is that we only need half the recommended amount of soap due to our very soft water conditions.

Nadine :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Menu Boards....

Okay, I am totally blaming Alicia for the fact that we have not blogged in over 5 months! She had a baby and I have been very preoccupied staring at her little bundle of cuteness. But all excuses aside, we have a super cool kitchen related project to share with everyone.

I stumbled upon the inspiration for this board at Robby Gurls Creations which i stumbled across through pinterest.

We have been talking about trying to meal plan for ages. We know for sure that when we meal plan our grocery budgets are better, we are more likely to have dinner made on time each night, and we have way less stress. So, without further ado, I introduce you to our menu planning boards....

This is my board, I did mine in primary colors just to add a little bit of color and excitement to my kitchen. (And hopefully it will keep my eyes from glossy over and forgetting all about it!)

For each day there are small tags to remind you what you will be making for dinner that day. The hanging file cards at the bottom are color co-ordinated to match the small tags depending on the types of food category.

We made 6 categories of recipes:
chicken, beef, side dishes, soup, desserts, & miscellaneous

The board is then accessorized with fancy magnets to hold up the small tags and the month labels.  We priced things out and all in all it ended up costing about $40 to make the boards.  The biggest cost was the board itself, which we were only able to get at Walmart for $19.97.  The paper and stones came from Michaels Art Store.  The binder rings were a dollar store find!  The button magnets and magnet tape can be bought at Walmart as well.

(And while I think of it, for you technies who notice each detail...yes it says that Alicia wrote this post, but it was actually me (Nadine)).

Here is Alicia's awesome board!  She went for a blue and green color theme with the same recipe categories.  Now, our job over the next few weeks is to print out our recipe cards to make this board fully functional.

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