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Wrapping Paper Roads…

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So often some of my greatest ‘light bulb moments’ come out of necessity!  We ran out of wrapping paper the other day and I kept forgetting to pick some up in town.  Today my little guy was stir crazy and I knew we needed a ‘project’.  Here enters my ‘light bulb moment’ and out came the washable paints, a roll of craft paper and you guessed it, little man’s toy of choice, tractors!

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This was such an easy craft and I think the results are awesome!  All you do is pour some kid’s paint onto paper or plastic plates (we used red and green for Christmas…and for the Case and John Deere tractors we used), run your tractors through the paint so the tires are coated and then drive them all over the craft paper.  It was fun to use different styles of wheels too and see what tracks they created.  Once the paint ran out, I filled the kitchen sink with soapy water, gave E a scrub brush and we took our tractors to the car wash.  Bonus! It was two activities in one and both were a hit!

I can’t wait to wrap the rest of our gifts in this homemade paper and tie them up with some sparkly ribbons or twine.  I kind of wish we had done this craft at the beginning of the season so all our gifts were wrapped in it.  I’m thinking next year we do this again and create some fun potato carved stamps to use too! Happy Holiday-ing!

Create

Gift Giving: For the Person who needs Pampering!

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I love the idea of making gifts by hand. There’s an extra element of love that goes into homemade gifts plus you have the power to personalize them to your receiver’s wants and needs.  With Christmas less than 4 weeks away, here’s a few easy ideas for that person who loves to pamper themselves or who needs a little extra self-love this season!

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Mason Jar candles are super easy to make.  I melted down some beeswax, added essential oils and filled these little jars with the hot wax, positioned a weighted wick in the centre and propped it up with popsicle sticks laid flat along the opening of the jar and let them cool.  Once the wax had solidified I trimmed the wick, sealed the jar with its lid and voila!  A beautiful and quick gift to add with a bottle of wine, some bath salts or bath bubbles and a perfect spa-like evening at home can begin for that special someone!

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Bath bombs are another extremely fun and trendy gift to make.  They are easily mixed up and let set in your favourite silicon mold for a fizzy surprise for kids and adults alike. I made two batches, one with soothing and calming essential oils; “sunset bath bomb” (think lavender, cedar wood, copaiba, orange, ylang ylang) and the other with more rejuvenating and energizing oils; “sunrise bath bomb” (think lemon, orange, peppermint, black pepper, lemongrass, rosemary, lime).  The recipe that I used this year came from some trial and error!  Here it is:

  • 1 cup epsom salt
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond oil
  • desired essential oil blend
  • optional: food colouring to tint
  • Mix up all of your ingredients and press firmly into silicone molds.  Cover with plastic and let “dry” for at least 24 hours.  Remove from molds and wrap tightly with plastic wrap, label and give away!

 

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Another great gift idea are these super luxurious make-up remover pads.  They can be infused with your favourite essential oils (I used a lavender, peppermint blend), are time-saving, all natural and simple to make.  In the jar you wish to use, mix up 1 tsp coconut oil, 1 tsp olive or almond oil, 1/2 tsp of your favourite gentle soap (I used E’s body wash), essential oils and fill half the jar with hot water.  Mix well and add cotton pads until they are all saturated and the jar is full!  These work well for taking off eye-make-up and lipstick especially!  I use them before I cleanse my face at night and love the little aromatic boost they give!

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Lastly are these yummy lip-balms that are made by simply melting down 3 parts coconut oil to 1 part beeswax, adding essential oils and pouring the mixture into empty lip balm tubes or dishes.  I bought these tubes on amazon and blended my lip-balms into a simple trilogy for that special someone who is outside a lot in the winter, suffers from dry, chapped lips or plans to be under the mistletoe-toe a lot this holiday season! (Cinna-mint contains cinnamon and peppermint essential oils, orange blossom has orange essential oil and cooling peppermint has you guessed it, peppermint essential oil!) Get creative with your own lip-smacking blends and labels!

A gift basket with all four of these easy spa ideas, a bottle of wine and a luxurious pair of slippers or a bath robe would be a glorious gift to both receive and give!  When you make a gift for the holidays you truly are giving so much love.  You’re thinking of the receiver through the entire process which in turn makes you reflect on so many cherished memories.  It’s a chance to slow down a bit during this often chaotic season and enjoy the simple things!

Nosh

Not Your Ordinary Oatmeal!

I’m not sure how it happened but my little guy loves oatmeal.  He requests it at least 4 out of 7 mornings and his favourite way to eat it is with cinnamon and raisins!  I like to introduce him to new flavours though and oatmeal is an amazing base to build from.  We prefer our oatmeal served hot, although there are fantastic options for overnight oats if you’re pressed for time in the morning! Oats are one of the healthiest grains.  They are gluten free and rich in antioxidants, fibre and many nutrients and vitamins.  They are great in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, they help you to feel fuller longer aiding in weight loss plus they offer a lot of benefits to your natural gut health as they aid in good bacteria growth. Oatmeal for breakfast (or anytime of day) is a win-win!

I usually cook my slow-cooking rolled oats in milk (dairy or nut) with a pinch of salt although sometimes I just use water and salt and sometimes I add some other grain blends such as Red River Porridge Cereal Mix or even just chia or flax seeds.  I love the versatility of oatmeal and I know my little one is getting a good portion of whole grains in his bowl.  It’s especially comforting in these cold winter months and it truly is an easy go-to for breakfasts and sometimes even a hearty snack.

Here’s a few recipes I like to enjoy:

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Apple Cinnamon and Raisin Oatmeal.  (Tried and true, E’s favourite way to enjoy his oatmeal! He loves to add diced up fresh apples and sometimes even dried cranberries or ‘bugs’ as he calls them!)

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Tomato, Basil Breakfast Bowl.  (My favourite way to enjoy oatmeal is untraditional and savoury!) Unsweetened oats with a generous dollop of basil pesto, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, chèvre and topped with a fried egg and salt and pepper.

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Funky Monkey Oatmeal has peanut butter powder mixed into the oatmeal and is topped with coconut, chia seeds and fresh sliced bananas.  It’s packed with yummy nutrients with a tropical vibe!

You can top your oatmeal with such a variety of fresh or frozen fruit.  Add seeds and nuts, mix in healthy sweeteners like honey or maple syrup or indulge and add some chocolate chips or chunks.  Swirl in some thick yogurt and top with crunchy granola for a texture twist or go savoury like I like to with cheeses, fresh herb blends, sautéed veg or even meat!! (I’m seeing a maple, bacon, aged cheddar oatmeal bowl in my future!). The sky’s the limit really! And you can feel good starting your day with one of nature’s finest gems (and supporting our local farmers to boot)!

Cheers

Hug in a Mug…3-ways

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This weekend we went hard at the Christmas prepping.  It’s a tradition to have my cousin K out for a long weekend in November to decorate the tree, make cookies, decorate a gingerbread house and watch all the cheesy Christmas movies we can…all with a crockpot or two of something yummy to sip on through the days! Here’s three amazing recipes to get you set and on your merry way for all things Christmas.  A definite mug in a hug!

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First up is this Caramel Mocha Masterpiece.  It’s so simple and making your own marshmallows or picking some up from a gourmet shop is an added gooey bonus.  Here’s how to make it:

  • 1 L milk
  • 5 cups fresh brewed coffee (we used decaf)
  • 1.5 cups of your favourite hot chocolate powder (I even found some caramel hot chocolate mix at the bulk barn!)
  • 3-4 tsp caramel extract
  • 1 large pinch of salt
  • marshmallows and caramel sauce to garnish.

Put everything (except the garnish) in a crock pot and cook on low for a few hours until hot, serve with marshmallows, a drizzle of caramel and a pinch of salt sprinkled over top.

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Next up on this amazing line-up is this White Chocolate Candy Cane Hot Cocoa!  Admittedly this one is pretty sweet for my liking…but it was a hit with the little guy! It’s pink and minty and full of Christmas cheer! Throw everything into the crockpot, heat on low and serve with whipped cream and crushed candy canes! Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/2 L milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped white chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cup candy cane hot chocolate mix (I found mine at the bulk barn)
  • whipped cream and crushed candy canes to garnish

 

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Last on the menu is this favourite!  This Gingerbread Latte will fill your house with all the holiday smells.  It’s not too sweet, decadent but not so decadent you can’t drink it all day, and it’s so dang cute!  We topped ours with cute little gingerbread cookies that we made, whipped cream and yummy cinnamon gingerbread man sprinkles!  Here’s how to make it:

  • Half a pot of strong brewed coffee (we used decaf)
  • 1 1/5 L milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • Whipped cream, gingerbread sprinkles and fresh baked gingerbread man cookies (to perch on the edge of the mug or to dunk…you decide!)

 

I’m telling you, any one of these yummy steaming sippers is sure to warm you right up and fill you with the holiday spirit!  The only thing missing this weekend to make our time prepping for Christmas over the top was a fresh blanket of gently falling snow!  I love the holidays but I especially love all the anticipation and getting ready for the festivities.  Traditions are extremely important to me and I love that my dear K still wants to partake in these traditions! Who knows what kind of yumminess we’ll dream up for next year! My heart is full, my tree is trimmed and more memories were made!

‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!’

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Fleeting Fall & Hasty Harvest…

…And I thought summer went by fast.  I blinked and here we are with snow on the ground, a few days into November and I’m left with a phone full of pics that prove that indeed, fall and harvest did actually happen!  I have to apologize for being MIA for the last few months.  Harvest on the farm was long and busy and in amongst all my farm-wifely duties I wanted to still get in a few ‘summer bucket list’ items with my little guy so needless to say I was going to bed wiped and waking up hitting the ground running.  Here’s a bit of a highlight real from fall with some easy ideas to create some fun-filled memories with your own family!

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We had a riot going on some local hikes.  My little guy powered through a 2.5 hour hike by the lake nearby, a smaller trail through the valley right in our own front yard and the old train bridge hike here in our little town.  We collected leaves and acorns and of course brought home a few ‘fancy rocks’ as our treasures and then later we did some easy and colourful leaf printing art to get in the spirit for thanksgiving.

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This craft is super simple.  All you need is some kid friendly craft paint and a sheet of paper, the leaves that you’ve collected and some paintbrushes.  We used two methods to get our fall prints; we painted the backside of the leaves and then stamped them onto the paper AND we painted around the edges of the leaves to create a bit of a colourful outline.  It’s easy for little hands to do and is a fun way to remember the journey to find the leaves!

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We also made these cute little turkeys to adorn our thanksgiving table out of some old tin cans, a few buttons and some colourful feathers.  Little hands can help paint the tins and gather up the feathers as you hot glue them to the inside of the tins.  We also had a lot of fun jumping and plowing through leaves this fall and at our thanksgiving dinner upon telling E that I was most thankful for him and his daddy, he promptly told me he’s thankful for chicken!! (It is in fact the simple things isn’t it?!)

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Halloween came so quickly this year!  I honestly felt like I just got thanksgiving put away and out came the pumpkins and costumes!  E and I spent a day making this easy candy corn garland.  We painted a ‘bulls-eye’ of sorts on some paper plates (orange, yellow, to a white center) then we cut the plate into triangles, like a pie and taped the pieces to some string to hang over our big patio doors.  Super easy and colourful and a bit of a calorie-free gateway to all the yummy treats that are Halloween!

Left to Right: Tarantula Taco Dip (refried beans, salsa, chopped iceburg lettuce, guacamole, black olive spiders and sour cream web), Spooky Shakes (vanilla milkshakes in mason jars with spooky faces drawn on using whiteboard markers, topped with whipped cream and orange sprinkles), Spider Sandwiches (peanut butter and jam sandwiches cut into rounds with pretzel legs and raisin eyes) with mini mandarin jack-o-lanterns and Soup, and Boo-nanas (made with chocolate chip faces pressed into fresh, halved bananas).

I feel like this post doesn’t do the amazing memories we made this fall justice, it also included combine rides, meals in the swather with dad, yard work (so much yard work!), garden produce preserving, pumpkin carving, costume creating and a lot of time spent outdoors…but like I said, it’s kind of a highlight reel of our crazy busy harvest season.  It is my goal to do a much better job of documenting our winter activities, especially all the fun that Christmas brings…and boy is it coming quick!!!