Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pinterest Challenge: Bar Cart Herb Garden

Despite my admitted lack of a green thumb, I have always, always wanted to grow things. This year, I am challenging myself to actually follow through and put in the leg work to make something grow from the ground up. I figure if I'm going to take the time to grow plants, I might as well get to reap the rewards and eat them (it's a good thing I don't have this same mentality when it comes to reproduction, hey?).

 After many herb and vegetable gardens like this tempting me through Pinterest, I decided to give it a whirl. It is Pinterest Challenge week, is it not? One day, when I live in Martha Stewart's compound, I will have this herb garden.

First things first, find a pretty house for my herb garden. I've seen everything from old boots and buckets to fancy shmancy greenhouses to do pretty much the same job, so decided that aesthetics come first. Luckily, my housing of choice ended up being pretty functional as well. I've longed for the RASKOG trolley for quite awhile now. It's been used for pretty much everything you can imagine in the blogosphere, but I have yet to see it as an herb garden. Score.



Second, buy supplies.

Wood Crates: $2 each from Dollorama
Plastic Seed Trays: $1.25/3 (after searching multiple garden centres  I finally found them at $ store)
Seed Starter Medium: $5.99 at Home Depot
Seeds: $10 (Buy anywhere, or see below for my source)
Grow Light: $10 each from Mr. Light
Plastic Wrap: On hand (to wrap around the crates to keep the seed babies warm until they grow)

Time to start growing! Oh wait, that takes a long time. I want something green and herbalicious right now! I get discouraged easily, so bought myself some mature herb plants to keep me happy while my seedlings grow. This set-up is really in it's early stages. Currently, the bottom tier holds gardening supplies and seeds, the middle tier holds my baby herb plants waiting to be born, and the top tier holds momma and pappa herb.


Soon, though, both the bottom and middle tiers will house my seed trays, and this is (I think) a great set-up for grow lights. I've got mine on order from Mr. Light and plan on afixing the flourescent fixtures to the bottom of the top two tiers so that the bottom two tiers will be for seedlings, and the top tier for the mature plants. For seeds, I ordered a bunch or organic, heirloom seeds from West Coast Seeds, which happens to be a bout a 30 minute drive from my house! (FYI- I've lined the wood crates with plastic to prevent leakage and wood rot).




What I love most about this trolley set up is that it's so easy to move around! When I'm cooking and want some fresh herbs, it will be my little herb kitchen cart. On a sunny day, it will be right by the sliding glass doors to catch some rays. On a chilly day, I'll move it away from the cold windows and closer to the heaters. And, when summer hits, I can even move it outdoors.

I am really, really green to this whole growing thing, but I'm excited to learn the ropes. I'm starting with herbs and will be sowing some vegetable seeds for my future outdoor veggie garden soon as well. I will most certainly post updates and let you know about my inevitable trials and hopeful successes! WIsh me luck!



And thank you to the Pinterest Challenge girls who always inpire me to start creating my Pins! Go check out their projects here:  KatieMeganMichelle and YHL




Thursday, February 21, 2013

Freebies | Printable Heirloom Recipe Cards

Sure, it's Thursday, but I'm filing this one under Freebie Fridays, k? Thank you for throwing me a bone.


I'm sharing my thoughts on passing down recipe cards today over at Modern Parents Messy Kids. Go take a peek and let me know what you think and how you recipe keep. You can also checkout the free download on my Freebies page.








For our recipe box, I customized some cards with our last name. I think this makes a great gift and have already made these for a bridal shower. Stick a set in my upcoming recipe card box DIY, and it is the PERFECT gift!

How do you keep recipes? In a binder? Box? Online? Let me know!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Where to Find Dirt Cheap Replica Chairs

I know that the majority of you are not from Canada, but a good chunk of you are. And that is why I am here today with this public service announcement.

If you haven't shopped for furniture at London Drugs, you don't know what you're missing. They have some INCREDIBLE prices on replicas. The fact that LD even has ghost chairs is mind boggling. Or their modern spin on the iconic eifel chair. I so badly wanted to buy 4 new ghost chairs to make a set of 6, but somehow I talked myself out of it. Maybe it's because I've got 6 Louis chairs in my garage waiting for a makeover?








And now, the incredible finds at London Drugs.

$99 Ghost Chair (vs $410 on DWR)


$99 Eifel Chair


$199 Hanging Egg Chair

Of all 3, I think I want the egg chair the most. I think it would be the perfect place to snuggle up in and read a book in the sunshine, no?

Any great, unusual places you've found great deals on furniture/decor lately?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Smoothie Saturday: "Wake Up" Choco Latte

I would be lying if I told you I make smoothies everyday for their taste over their health benefits. Truth be told, I sometimes pack in so many greens and other random ingredients (like beets and pumpkin) that it is sometimes a challenge to finish the whole thing.

It's not that I don't believe in enjoying food and smoothies, I just find it such a lost opportunity to pack in nutritious produce if I don't take it to that next level. I find it difficult to get in my veggies and salad in the winter months especially, so I just feel so much better about my day when I start it with a greens packed smoothie.

That said, every once in a while, I indulge in a smoothie that is more tasty than healthy.  I leave out the greens, I use soy milk instead of water, add extra banana and some peanut butter and or cocoa, and in the end the thing tastes more like a milkshake than a smoothie. Mmmmmmm mmmmm good...

Well, today was the perfect day to try out a smoothie in the middle of the road. It's not PACKED with greens (although it could be), but it's also not overloaded with calorically dense, nutritionally light foods either. Since I was out of soy milk and unable to make my daily double latte, it was the perfect excuse to sneak some espresso into my smoothie. Coffee and breakfast in one- cha ching!



"Wake Up" Choco-Latte Smoothie

1 frozen banana (peeled, sectioned, frozen at least the night before) OR 1/2 an avocado + ice cubes
2 shots of espresso (or, 1 cup brewed coffee - just reduce other liquid)
water or milk or choice to thin to desired consistency

1 teaspoon coconut oil (use only if using water as thinner over milk)

2 tablespoons "power" mix (I use chia seeds, hemp hearts, buckewheat, and flax seeds)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (regular is more antioxidant packed, but dutch processed is tastier)
2 frozen "green cubes" (pureed spinach/kale frozen in ice cube tray)
1 tablespoon almonds or almond butter
Optional: I added some frozen berries in for some more antioxidants, but not enough to affect the flavour.

Blend until creamy, and enjoy!


Friday, February 15, 2013

Fit Friday: iPhone Workout One

Ok friends, welcome to my first edition of Fit Friday, which will occur every third Friday from this one on, and should hopefully spice up your life enough to make you want to come back for more.

 I used to kill myself at the gym in university, and once I graduated and moved off campus, I just stopped. I hate gyms. I just hate them. Working out is not in my blood. There are so many other things I'd rather do. Hating gyms and conventional workouts and the time involved in both scared me away to the point of not exercising at all. Does this sound familiar, or are you one of those people blessed with an innate love of working out?

Anyways, things started to click for me in 2011, and then clicked even more in 2012. I finally feel like I've figured out the best way for *me* (and, maybe for you, too!) to stay active without hating it.

They key is home workouts. Without equipment. Without DVDs. Without any knick knacks or trinkets or whosits or whatsits galore. You want thingamabobs? There's twenty at the gym. I want moooooore! (Please excuse my very rando Ariel serenade there).

Working out at home means no excuses. It means if it's rainy and you don't want to get in your car and drive in a down pour to the gym, you don't have to. If you look like absolute crap and don't want to go out in public with your bags under your eyes and a pimply face, you don't have to. You don't have to set anything up. Heck, you could even work out in your PJ's.

These are formatted for iPhone 4 and 5, however if you just save it as an image to any cell phone, it should work. Save it as a wallpaper, or just access it in your photo album when you're ready to work out. Throw on some good tunes while you're at it! This workout was totally inspired by these at Back on Pointe, I just modified it to make it work better for me.

iPhone 5 above

iPhone 4a above

If you're struggling with staying active or finding the time to workout, commit yourself to doing this 10 minute workout once a day. Sure, it's just 10 minutes, but you'll be sweating and you'll feel a heckuva lot better than if you did nothing.

If you've got more time on your hands, or have mastered the once a day workout, do it two or three times. To challenge myself, I add weights to all leg exercises so instead of just a calf raise, I do a calf raise with bicep curl. Just do what works for you! It's also a great warm up for a run. And because it's so short, you can do it once in the morning and again at night, and if you can get 20 minutes of quality exercise in a day, I'd say you're golden! Working out isn't about how much time you can spend in the gym, it's about how long you can commit to being active. And unfortunately for us workout haters out there, we really need to commit to being active for the rest of our lives. It's not just something you do for a couple months or until you reach your goal and stop. But, hopefully with short home workouts, it won't be too hard to make it a lifestyle change and not a temporary fix!

PS- If you are unsure of what some of the specific workouts above entail, just go visit dear friend Youtube and he will tell you! Once you know what the moves are, it's easy as pie!

Now go on and do it, and GOOD LUCK!

xo Jen



Musings and Changes

It's no secret that I'm not your traditional blogger. My sporadic posts follow no rhyme or reason. What once was an organizing and decorating blog has become a mishmash of all things that make me, me.


The change in the direction of this blog is all due to the change in direction of my life. The past couple of years, I didn't overly focus on fashion, my health, staying fit, or cooking nutritious meals. One could even say I avoided all those things. So, that energy had to go somewhere, and in order to keep my head in the sand about my life, I focused on home. I didn't have the tools to ensure I was eating a properly balanced diet, nor to run a 10 K, but I did have the tools to decorate and organize and so that is what I did.

In the past 8 months or so, I've been on a journey of self discovery (man that sounds super cheesy). I always thought that everything would continually go downhill as I get older, but as many can attest I'm sure, that is not the case at all. To have discovered running and ways to stay active that don't make me hate the word "exercise" in my late twenties has been nothing less than a miracle. The joy of cooking a delicious, healthy meal from fresh, whole ingredients while swaying to Sinatra in the kitchen and sipping a glass of red is one of my all time favourite activities. And organizing and decorating IS still a part of it, very much so. It's just not the whole picture.

So you probably see where I'm going with this, don't ya? Not much on the blog front is going to change, because I've clearly already made the transition, but there will be some more structure. I feel like it's only fair to give you less random, more scheduled. Now, I don't make promises I can't keep, so I'm not promising that every single week I will stick to this, but I'm aiming for at least 3 posts a week following this structure: Early Week (Most likely Tuesday)- Organizing, Decorating, Home Stuff | Friday - Fitness/Fashion/Freebies alternating each week | Saturday - Smoothie Recipes/ Supper Club Recipes alternating each week. Hopefully, if only one or two of those topics interest you, you'll at least know when to stop by (or alternatively, you subscribe by email and have the posts delivered to your inbox where you can ultimately delete what you don't care to read!).

I've never done a poll or questionnaire on here, but LOVE love love feedback, so if there's something you want to see more of, please let me know and I'll do my best to incorporate it! I know that by broadening my topics I'm likely losing out on some readers who were only here for the home part, but that's okay. There are so many great home blogs out there that I don't think the interweb will miss me. I'm also going to try and tackle this blog with a makeover, properly label each post, set up better categories and link all projects so that it's not as terrible to navigate.

And look in the sky and you might just see pigs flying, because I'll be back later today with a SECOND post for you! Yup, you heard that right. Two posts in one day. I'll be posting my first Fit Friday with a 10 minute workout you can do using just yourself and your cell phone. That's pretty awesome, no?

And if I don't say it enough already, THANK YOU dear readers! I sometimes have to look at my stats to remind myself that no, I'm not just writing to myself and the handful of people who comment on each post. No, there's actually quite a few of you out there who read this (scary!), so thank you for sticking around, thank you for being here, and thank you for putting up with my random randomness.

xoxo

Jen

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Healthy Home | Superfood Valentine's Pancakes!

Happy Valentine's Day lovelies!

I woke up with an idea this morning, and popped out of bed to give a whirl.

I was inspired by the lovely Jennifer of Chronicles of Home and her delish looking pancake recipe. I was eager to try it, but decided to give it a little Valentine's kick, and alter it a bit to make it vegan and as healthy as it could be.

Enter The Healthy Heart Triple Berry Pancake, or as I wanted to call it: "Love in a Pan(Cake)". Spread the love by making these for someone special today, and feel good that you're feeding them something full of superfoods that will make them healthier than they were yesterday. Yesiree, that sounds good to me! If you use the right ingredients this recipe can be VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE, SUGAR FREE, OIL FREE, and 100% HEALTHY FOR YOU full of fiber, antioxidants, protein and nutrients!

These jacks are not going to taste like traditional pancakes, well, because almost every ingredient is different than a traditional pancake. They are dense and hearty, and almost feel like eating a bowl of oatmeal. They taste acceptable on their own, but they really serve the greater purpose of being a fantastically healthy bed for some delicious toppings. I used a quick and easy berry coulis (recipe below) shredded coconut and berries, and on one I even spread a little almond butter. Feel free to load up on the fresh fruit and nut butters and I promise you'll be full til dinner! If you just want to have a tasty and still very healthy pancake that will taste delightful on it's own, I definitely recommend making Jennifer's original recipe over here. I'm sure you could sub some of the bananas for raspberries, or use food colouring to make them a special treat for today!



Healthy Heart (Superfood) Pancakes

Dry:
3/4 cup Power Flour*
1/8 cup walnuts, milled to a powder (this is the "fat" for the recipe, so sub away with other fats like coconut oil etc)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp coconut

* You can use whatever flour you like, but my Power Flour is a mix of: Oats, Flaxseed, Chia Seeds, Buckwheat and Quinoa milled in my NutriBullet. You can mill other grains and make your own Power Flour easily!

Wet:
1/2 cup of apple butter or apple sauce (I was out of bananas sadly, but 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas would be divine)

1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp date paste or agave nectar (or honey or maple syrup)
3/4 cup mixed berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries)

1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 water
OPTIONAL: If you want more colourful pancakes, add in some red food colouring. I prefer just to use the berries as colour, but they don't stay as deep a red as one would get from food colouring.



1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax meal (ground flax) mixed with 3 tbsp water, refrigerated for 15 minutes)

Coulis:
1/2 cup mixed berries
1/4 cup apple butter or ripe mashed bananas
1 tbsp date paste or agave nectar (or honey or maple syrup)

As you can see, lots of subs can be made depending on what you have on hand. It's hard to go wrong as long as you're subbing with category (fat for fat, sweet for sweet etc).

Directions:

Place all wet ingredients in blender and pulse to blend.

Place dry ingredients in bowl, mix in wet ingredients and flax egg. Stir, and add more water if needed. 

Consistency will be more or a sticky thick muffin batter than a runny pancake batter.

Pre-heat your skillet over medium heat, oil it, and spoon out your batter. For these pancakes it's better to cook them slower at a lower temp than quick at a high temp, so keep a watchful eye and when they easily slide under a spatula, time to flip them and cook a few more minutes.

The coulis is super easy, just blend it all together, add some water if you would like a runnier consistency. Pour over pancakes, sprinkle with coconut or nuts, and top with fresh fruit.

Makes 3- 4 small pancakes or 2 jumbo pancakes (because they are so dense and filling I suggest going with the smaller!)

And enjoy! Make sure to top off with lots of yummy toppings. I was really sad I had used my last banana yesterday because it would have been so tasty topped with bananas. Next time!





Wednesday, February 13, 2013

California Dreamin'

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have got a sneak peak at our quick little SoCal getaway. It was only 5 days, however if you take out travel it was really only 3. Regardless, we packed a lot in and was a nice break from the dreary Vancouver winter weather. It is so nice to wear sandals and dresses in February!




 I was dying over the juicy colours at Target. They have some incredibly cute swimwear right now as well!



My dad and hubby after golfing a PGA West course in Palm Dessert.


Meanwhile, Mom and I indulged in full body massages and facials at La Quinta Resort. The spa was fabulous and my favourite part was the spa courtyard (below) with beautiful spots to sit and take in the breathtaking scenery and sunshine










After Palm Springs, we made our way through a rain/snow downpour to the coast, stopping at the "life sized" dinosaurs that hubby fondly recollects from his childhood where he spent every January visiting his grandparents in Palm Springs. They were a little less exciting for him than they were at 7 years old, but he was thrilled to see them again nonetheless.


We arrived in Newport late afternoon and pulled up to the lovely Marriott Newport Coast Villas. This resort is amazing and I highly reccomend it to anyone travelling in this area. I was instantly transported to Europe, and could have stayed there our entire trip.

  


The lobby had me swooning, with it's neutral pallet, oversized grey beams, and well placed, funky pink egg chairs!


Off the lobby, the card room was equally well decorated, but these chairs were my favourite.


Nothing like some fresh fruit water to quench thirst after a long drive.


The following day, we again let Kevin live out his inner child dreams with a trip to Disneyland and California Adventures. I quite enjoyed the new Cars Land, with it's retro vibe and vintage colours (I fit right in, don't I?)



Hubby is OBSESSED with these pickles. He talks about them at least once a week. I actually believe that these giant pickles were one of the main reasons he really wanted to go to Disneyland this trip.


Our last day we spend driving up the coast, visiting a few beaches along the way (Huntington, Redondo, and a few others I don't remember).


And that was it! Short and sweet, but we had a great trip and fun time with my parents. Go anywhere fun lately? Or are you lucky enough to live in Southern California? If so, please sponsor me, because I'm ready to start packing boxes and relocate!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Smoothie Saturday | Mango Acai Super Smoothie

Wow, you'd think I'm writing a food blog with all the posts I've had this week. As it probably should be, blog imitates life, and currently my life is very focused on nutrition and whole foods and cooking. I have some very exciting house news coming up though, so I'm sure to change gears from food to decor in the next month (and no, we aren't moving unless we win the dream home we bought tickets for).

Anyways, as luck would have it, I ran out of my "pre-bagged" frozen smoothie mix, and so this post which was supposed to show you the 10+ different goodies in my go-to smoothie has now resulted in a smoothie du-jour recipe. Nonetheless, it's tasty and healthy and still super easy to whip up with a little prep.


Mango Acai Super Smoothie


From top, clockwise
  • Frozen Organic Mango Chunks (Costco)
  • Organic Black Kale (aka Dinosaur Kale) -(Thrifty's Foods)
  • Frozen Bananas
  • Dried Mint (Bulk Spice section at Grocer)
  • Acai Mango Zinger Tea (Bag cut open) - (Celestial Seasonings brand- bought at Walmart)
  • Organic Spinach Cubes (Made from pureed spinach and water) - (Costco)
  • Power Mix (made from hemp hearts, chia, flax and buckwheat) - (Costco and Bulk)
  • Acai Juice Supplement (frozen into cubes)- (Costco)



I never thought of cutting up tea bags to use the tea insides until I realized what matcha green tea is. Yup, just ground up green tea. So, I've started including green tea or hibiscus tea (zinger) in every smoothie for an extra flavour kick and a huge amount of nutrient dense leafies and antioxidants. Dried mint is also a very inexpensive and tasty way to rev up the nutrition in your smoothie.

I just discovered black kale last month and it is now the only kind I buy. It has a much more buttery texture than regular old kale, I find it stays fresh and crisp in the fridge for much longer (no need to make kale cubes if it's gone within the week) and it tastes SO GOOD cut up in soups and stir frys.

The rest of the ingredients are pretty self explanatory. Give it a go!

Any great ingredients you've put in your smoothie lately?