Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thrift Store Success

A confession: Until today, I had never been to the thrift store here in Okotoks. I have donated stuff before, but never shopped inside. It's not that I don't like thrift stores. When we're on vacation, I will rummage through them for hours (antique stores too). But my daily grind has just never led me to a thrift store in my home town.

Today I was on the hunt for old spoons (for a gardening project I am working on).  I did find some in the end (I had to haul out to the Okotoks Salvage Center). Here's what else I brought home:

These pretty little stoneware plates. I love them. Just $1 each, they are dishwasher safe and made in Japan. They have a vintagey & spring feel that I love. I'm going to wash them up & then take the current plates I have (blue glass ones from when I was in college) & donate them back to the store (Bibles for Missions Thrift Store).

Dishcloths. These aren't used (obviously) but someone had generously made dozens of them to sell in the store. If they hold up, I will go back for more. $2.75 each. They match my pretty yellow plates.

This vintage Raggedy-Ann fabric almost made me giddy when I saw it. I was even more excited to learn there were two whole meters of it for only $2! I can see a sweet little play dress for Molly & her baby doll. And just last night I bought some beautiful red felt ric-rac at Rumpled Quiltskins for a quilt, which will clearly go with this fabric now instead.

Ten adorable old Easter themed greeting cards for just one dollar! I can't wait to drop these in the mail come Easter. The colourful graphics were too cute to resist. If you are a paper lover like I am, there were lots more still there, go grab yourself some vintage cuteness.

Me = Happy as a clam.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Housewife Version 2012

I don't mind spending a day organizing my spice cupboard. If I had to pick a "favourite cupboard" (and why on earth wouldn't I?) this would be it.

Pouring packets of spices into little jars (and them labelling them with little pink labels, of course) is soothing. Everything smells so good, looks so vibrant & overwhelms me with memories of kitchen success and family gatherings. 

Brian brought me home a bag of spices from The Silk Road Spice Merchant last week. I had visited their Calgary Farmers Market location before & felt overwhelmed. It's like my favourite cupboard, times ten. But Brian's workday led him to their new location in Inglewood. He noshed on a scone (from Sidewalk Citizen bakery which made me green with envy) and thought it only fair to bring me home a treat too. Brian's "treats" are notoriously self serving. And if we didn't have such similar taste, I could accuse him of buying gifts for himself. Lucky for him, I also appreciated the steak spice & orange peel he brought home (Which he used to garnish a G&T. Go figure.). He also regaled me with tails of the origins of cinnamon (I was impressed). 

Anyway, it was the two new jars of spices that had me rearranging my cupboard.

I have to wonder if my Grandma Lydia, back in her day, would have considered this a good use of time. Back then, for them (and most farming families), food was simple & I doubt spices like turmeric & epazote found a home in her kitchen. And I can say almost certainly she didn't have pink himalayan salt. But still, I can picture her cleaning out her cupboards & being satisfied with her results. As much as life has changed, some things stay the same.

When Grandma passed away in the fall, I was lucky enough to get some beautiful pictures of her & her family (and ultimately my family). I picked my favourites and framed them. The picture of my Grandpa Paul & Grandma Lydia (below) that now sits on my dresser has unexpectedly served a purpose besides nostalgia & decor. It's a reminder, each time I see it, to cherish the simple life they once led.

And if that inspires me even a little bit, it is in a direction toward the things that matter most. The things that sometimes escape a housewife* in 2012.

* I for one love the term 'housewife'. It rings of traditions & matriarchy.

Glancing at the picture, I am connected to her, having just cleaning my cupboards. And I think of a day long ago, on a farm near Wainwright, Alberta, when my grandma dusted off her hands, smiled at a job well-done & admired her clean cupboard.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Perfect. Finally.

I've been searching for the perfect play dough recipe for a while. I've made it too sticky, too smelly (it molded) & too dry. Today, it was perfect. Finally.

Here's what you need:
3c Flour
1/2 c Salt
3 T. Cooking Oil
1 T. Alum
(I got this waaay too big container at the drugstore for $8. It will be around for my grandkids.)
1/4 t. Food Coloring
2 c Boiling Water

Add the first 5 ingredients & stir.

Add boiling water & stir until you can't. Then dump contents onto counter or paper & knead until dough is smooth & colour is completely mixed.

That's it. No seriously, that's it. Store in an airtight container. 

For some reason my kids LOVE homemade play dough. More than the store-bought kind. I do too, it reminds me of when I was little & my mom use to make it for us. Even the smell of it induces nostalgia.

I searched for a recipe that used Alum because it is more sanitary. It doesn't allow bacteria to grow (and we all know how much gross bacteria is on our kids hands) even though it stays moist.

Pink for Molly. Blue for Miles.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Todays Offering.

Lately I have been focused on making great choices. I mean, I've always made choices (What to make for dinner? Should these socks be thrown away?) but lately, I have been focusing on making great choices. It's not as easy as it might sound. 
So I needed a system. And I have found one that is working well for me (you might call it my own "Secret"). A book I read not long ago focused on Offerings. A simple word, but a powerful idea. And so, with a list of offerings in mind (and on a post-it note in my night-stand) I am making great choices more often (albeit not always). When faced with a choice on how to spend my time & effort, I simply look at what offering it might provide to my family & friends (the only thing that really matters).

Today I decided to spend the evening sewing a pillow-case dress for Molly (and not watching the Oscars). And while it took a couple of hours, I am left with a feeling, not that my day was wasted, but that my afternoon was an offering to my family.

Family Legacy, Effort & Joy.

It sounds like a lot for one little dress. But it's not. I actually only chose three to tell you about, when I could have chosen many more.

Family Legacy - Something valuable handed down from the past.
My mom loved to sew. I mean, I've never heard her say that, but I assume it is so. With three little girls, often in hand-made matching clothing I think most people would have made that assumption. And I plan on continuing that legacy and all it encompasses by ensuring this is not the last dress I will make for Molly. If I can show her how much I love her, the same way my mom showed us, with handmade clothing, then I am happy.

Effort - The use of physical or mental energy to do something; an earnest attempt; an achievement.
What a great way to demonstrate effort to my children. Yes, we can go buy clothing (and we do) but to have them see me put effort into something (something for them) is priceless.

Joy - Intense and especially ecstatic or exhausted happiness.
I loved this project. It brought me great joy. And not because Molly can add another dress to her closet, but because it was fun to make. And even more fun to complete. And if you ask Brian (who had to sit through me pointing out my perfect bias seem application), he'll tell you, this brings me joy.

Time well spent.

A list of (some) Offerings (things I can 'give' to my family) I look for when making great decisions:

Generosity - Giving abundantly; willingness to give; unselfishness; openhandedness.
Zeal - An enthusiastic devotion to a cause, idea or goal and tireless diligence in its furtherance.
Unusual Adventure - An exciting or remarkable experience; an uncommon or rare quest.
Trust - An assured reliance on the character, ability, or strength of a person; confidence which is placed in someone.
Patriotism - A love for or devotion to one's country, national loyalty.
Nourishment - The act of nourishing, sustaining, and benefiting.
Creative Fun - An activity that brings joy, amusement, or pleasure.
Consideration - Careful, kind, deliberate thought or concern for other people.
Example - One that serves as a pattern to be imitated; a model of behaviour.
Self Sufficiency - A modest but adequate scale of living; competency.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Lu-vahs Dinner

A quick blog post about the dinner I made for my hubby tonight for Vday. I thought I should write about it while my tummy is still full. And I do mean full.

I bought a new mortar & pestle with a gift card I received for Christmas, I also splurged on some pink peppercorn, so if you notice a theme, yeah, it's Pink Peppercorn!

The aromas from the peppercorn were unreal. I love it when something that you wouldn't normally refer to as fresh (peppercorn) suddenly seems to come to life. Tonight I made bean & walnut burgers. They are simple. lentils, onions, eggs, peppercorn, breadcrumbs & of course, toasted walnuts. You can add whatever spices you like, I added cumin.

Gorgeous Peppercorn, non?
 To start we did a goat cheese marinated in Olive Oil, Mint, Pink Peppercorns, Garlic Cloves, Orange Zest and pitted lived sprinkled on top. I hate olives & I LOVE this snack. I'll post the recipe on Sunday, we're having friends over & this is an easy go-to snack that I'll probably whip up.

Pears (doesn't matter if they are ripe) for a Pear & Arugula salad with Blue Cheese.

In January Brian & I took a cooking class. We pan-fried wonton wrappers for a crispy element in salads. Unreal good. Like, so so good.  I will use the rest of the wrappers for cheats ravioli later this week.

It just takes a couple seconds and they light & crispy (before I had them I thought they'd be really rich & oil-heavy, not so).

The finished salad. The best part of the meal (though the burgers were good too).

Finished Lentil & Walnut burgers. So good. And insanely healthy. Although I melted some cheese on top & used a tbs. of garlic mayo.

Rant: SO many grocery stores are no longer carrying alfalfa spouts because they are "high in bacteria". It's so irritating. There are loads of foods that are bacteria-laden, and even more than are packed with MSG, GMO's and other crap. I love sprouts. LOVE them. It worries me that no one is selling them anymore (in Okotoks, only Sobeys). Don't let sprouts die out!!! Use them in a meal today! I had to use pea sprouts today, they're great, but alfalfa is where it's at.

Anyway, I just wanted to share.... I love spending the night in the kitchen with my hubby (we hauled our kids off to bed early). It is the perfect way to spend Valentines Day. xo.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A House Full of Love

Love for an old friend. Molly snuggles my old cabbage patch, Sabina Nessie.

Love my morning tea & the sweet cup it came in. I wish they'd have these cups until the Christmas ones come out. 

Love my husband who brings me sushi for lunch.

Love orange roses. I've never had them before, but they are beautiful. Happy Birthday to me!

Love watching Miles Skype with Papa & Grandma who are so far away.

Love time well-spent making cupcakes with Miles for his class. Love pink buttercream icing. Love cupcakes.

Love decorating for Valentines day. Even in the bathroom.

Love taking pictures of all the love in my house.

 Love the wreath I made last year to welcome people to our home.

Love a splash of color against the dreary landscape of winter.

 Love the tiny fingerprint all over the windows & having a different arrangement each day.

 Love a gift from a friend that I have had for over a year & never opened (just realized that). It makes me smile when I think of the effort she took to make it so pretty, not wasted on me.

 Love to read and learn.

Love the buttoned heart on my spice cupboard. My favourite cupboard.

 Love when Miles comes home from school with a 'gift' for Mommy.

Love a fridge that is covered in love. Every time I think about clearing it all off, I look at the memories on it & change my mind.

Love seeing a message left behind on my chalkboard.

Love our House Full of Love.

Like a Charm

I love it when someone recommends a product to me. A lady I worked with once told me to use 'Finish' dishwasher tabs when I was grumbling about my terrible dishwasher. Turns out... I don't have a terrible dishwasher, but the Nellie's detergent I was using just wasn't cutting it (sometimes a natural product isn't all it's cracked up to be). This is a product I recommended to a gal online today. It's a stain removal bar I have been using for years and it works like a charm (what does that even mean?). I have removed old sweat stains from white t-shirts, a bright pink slurpee stain off of my white couch & this morning I tackled an old coffee stain. (Note to Brian: If you spill coffee on your tie, leaving it in your car for a month doesn't make it easier on your wife). 
I get this product from Eden Essentials at the Calgary Farmers Market. I think it is about $6. And it works. So there, maybe this stain removing bar will mean to you what Finish tabs mean to me. 
Nothing is worse than having to throw away a bad product that you spent $$$ on. Especially when you could be buying new stationery with the money instead....

Monday, February 6, 2012

Not Immune

I thought I was immune to Pinterest. I am not. And although I haven't spent more than 1 hour (total) on there in the past month....and I haven't started a project from there....I do have to say it has inspired me.
A friend and I made this little pennant "advent" calendar for Valentines day. We thought it up on our own & were pretty damn proud of ourselves. Who needs Pinterest? Well.... I won't be getting rid of it quite yet.


The banner is made from cheap felt (making the project about $10 in all). I used a Stampin' Up die to cut the pennants. We also used a Crop-o-dile to set the eyelets and floss for bows & embroidery. 

I hand-stitched (you can tell...) numbers 1 - 14 onto each flag. The pockets are glued on with fabric glue.

Each pocket is big enough to fit a couple of Hershey Kisses. 

The kids love it. Miles is excited for Valentines Day. Seems he likes a girl named "Sarah" in his class & has set his sights on making her a "Huge Valentines with sparkles." Where does he learn this stuff? Anyway, I am volunteering at his school that day, so you can bet I will be on Pinterest looking for some cute cupcake ideas.