Summer Slow Down

I’ve been seeing ‘Summer Bucket Lists’ popping up here and there. Though we have 3 weeks of school left here, I am definitely starting to get into the summer frame of mind. I was actually going to do a bucket list post, but then I thought against it. Usually I am all for goals, lists and schedules, but I want this summer to be different.

We already have plans for the summer. Too many plans if you ask me. Trips, visitors, weddings. Even two months can start to seem like not enough time if you try to cram too much into it.

This summer I want to go slowly. Sleep late, read on the deck, eat on the grass outside, sit up late by the campfire. Just enjoy the time.

I want to move slow, be quiet, take time. I want to enjoy the garden, the lake, and any other place I happen to find myself.

I guess that is my summer bucket list.

imPress Manicure- Influenster Review

I just received my first ever Influenster box. Influenster is a company that sends out new products for people to try out and then review. I think it’s pretty cool and a good use of social media.

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Anyways, my box contained two sets of imPress Manicure by Broadway Nails. They are basically stick-on nails. What makes them special is the cool colours and patterns they come in.

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You get 24 nails in 12 different sizes. All you have to do it go through and find the ones that fit your nails best then line them up. You wipe your nails with a little included wipe, then peel the backs and just carefully stick them on. You have to be careful to stick them on the right spot since it is pretty tricky to move them!

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Pros: easy for people who are bad at painting their nails, non-toxic alternative to nail polish, good for people with not so nice nails (me!), really fun colours, cheaper and easier than a nail salon

Cons: a lot of waste (bulky packaging, and extra nails to throw away), tricky to use the first time, a little longer than I like my nails to be

Overall these are definitely not something I would wear everyday since they are a little long for me, but I think for events like parties they are a great product!

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Check out full review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rORiFdOfHag

Ultimate Blog Party- 2014

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This year I’m participating in Ultimate Blog Party, which is a way to introduce people to bloggers and also, I think, a great way to build community among bloggers.

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So anyways, onto the introductions. My name is Christy, I live in Ontario with my husband and two cats. We try to live simply, frugally and sustainably. I enjoy crafting, cooking, travelling and being outside. Those are pretty much also the things I write about, with some cat pictures thrown in for good measure.

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So have a look around, if you find something you like let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for visiting!

Mom’s Fudge

This was the one recipe I did for Christmas this year that I was sure about. The rest I found online and I just had to hope that they would turn out, but this is the fudge that my mom used to make all the time so I knew it would good.

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The recipe is a bit weird, but trust me.

4 cups sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup margarine*
1 package chocolate chips ( 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup marshmallows
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Mix sugar milk and margarine. Cook to soft ball stage**. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate and marshmallows till melted. Stir in vanilla. Pour 9 X 13 pan lined with tin foil or parchment paper overlapping the pan. Cool and remove from pan using the paper to lift fudge out and cut into squares.

*I’m a big butter advocate. I haven’t bought margarine in years, but this time I decided to use it for my baking. Mainly because it’s super cheap and easy to work with, but also because two of the recipes called for it.

**Soft ball stage is when you drip a tiny bit of whatever you are making into a glass of cool water and it turns into a ball on the way down, if it isn’t ready it will just sort of go everywhere and make the water look gross.

My mom does it in the microwave, but I did it on the stove.

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For all of the confidence I had in making this, things got a little hairy for a while. I read online that soft ball stage is 235 degrees and the mixture simple wouldn’t get there. I waited, and stirred, and made a batch of cookies, and waited…..Then when I was melting some of the margarine in the microwave for another recipe, we discovered the problem. I took the measuring cup out from the microwave, there was a layer of margarine at the top, and a layer of water at the bottom. Turns out I had bought vegetable spread (whatever the heck that is) which contains a lot of water.

Luckily, everything turned out in the end. The fudge finally got to the correct temperature and it tastes just like when my mom makes it. It just took a lot longer to get there.

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Some final advice: once your marshmallows and chocolate is melted in, it hardens very quickly so you need to act fast. I tried sprinkling walnuts and candied sunflower seeds on top, but when I was cutting the fudge up most of them fell off, so I would advise adding any extras into the pot, or pressing them in on top.

Goals Update- December

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My November goals went fairly well. I finished Christmas shopping and prepping the garden for winter. We are nearly done the last bedroom (just one more coat) and we also have the upstairs hall plastered and ready for paint. I am a couple of days short of finishing my yoga challenge because we’ve been super busy lately, but I am going to finish this week. I really enjoyed doing yoga and I actually noticed that I feel a lot stronger (especially my core), flexible and mindful of my body so I’d like to continue doing it.

As for December goals, I am not going to go crazy since we will be away for part of the month and I want to leave room for holiday stuff (like lots of cocoa!)

So here are my December goals:
1. Replace the kitchen faucet (it’s been leaking badly), finish painting and put the rooms back in order (there is furniture everywhere!)
2. Use up pantry items in preparation for operation Kitchen Clean-up (coming soon)
3. Begin taking probiotics and daily vitamins to prepare for staying healthy during holiday travel
4. Slow down, relax and spend quality time with family during holiday season

Is anyone else setting goals this month? How do you try to keep yourself motivated?
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Simple Tuna Cakes

Once in a while beans and tofu just don’t cut it so we decide to ‘treat’ ourselves to fish for dinner. We don’t eat tuna very often because I worry about the impact of it. We buy pole and line caught, but I think it still it something that needs to be eaten in great moderation. We usually just eat it fairly plain, but in order to stretch it out, I made it into simple cakes.

In a bowl I put a few squirts of dijon mustard, a few squirts of lemon juice, a bit of olive oil, some parsley, and two small eggs. I added two cans of tuna and a few spoonfuls of the juice from the cans (don’t tell the cats, but I didn’t give them all of it). I mixed this all together than added bread crumbs to hold it together nicely. I covered it and put in the fridge for about an hour.

Once the rest of dinner was nearly ready, I took the tuna mixture out, heated a bit of oil in a pan and using my hands formed little patties. I made 8, but you can do whatever feels right. I smooshed them down with the of the spatula to make them a little flatter and left them for about 2 minutes on each side.

We ate them with a sauce made from mayo, dill and a tiny bit of regular old relish. They were really good!

I forgot to take a picture until I was about to eat, so it is terrible, but at least you get the idea.

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Grocery Budget

We don’t really usually keep track of how much we spend on groceries. That being said, we are very careful about what we buy. We almost never buy food (other than a few staple items) unless on sale. We also buy very little processed foods. I’ve decided to keep track of our food costs this month so that I can see what how much we spend and so that we can potentially set a monthly grocery limit.

So, here are our total from this week was $48.12.

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We went to three stores. I don’t have a picture of our Costco receipt, but we bought 6 cans of pole caught tuna for $10.99. This week was definitely not the norm as most of what we bought was not fruits and vegetables. There were a lot of sales on staple items and we already had enough vegetables in the fridge. Also, we try to buy our produce from a local market in the fall, rather than from the grocery store (obviously, this doesn’t apply to bananas, pineapples or avocados!)

At the end of the month (after we see how we did) I will share some tips for saving money at the grocery store!

Halloween Dinner

I really wanted to make a super cute Halloween treat to show you. It didn’t turn out so great, so we also made a back-up recipe. I will share both.

Here’s the first:

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They are candy corn cookies. I followed this recipe, but I didn’t use food dye (I can never make orange, it always comes out pink, since I refuse to use the 75 drops of food colouring, or whatever it is). I used turmeric for the yellow and Kurt’s cheese colouring for the orange (it comes from some sort of seed), but you can easily use carrot juice.

The loaf pan I used was far too big. I realized this when I cut my cookies and they were only slightly bigger than real life candy corn. Some I baked as they were, others we smooshed down flat to make them a bit bigger, but much wonkier looking.

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They look strange, but they are still cute and they taste good, I promise!

Onto number two. This is for a savory Halloween (or just Fall) dish. Pumpkin gnocchi.

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Gnocchi is easy to make, but does take quite a bit of hands on time. The first step is either to roast a pumpkin, or used canned pumpkin. Once you have your pumpkin puree, you just need to add flour until it gets a dough like consistency. Then you roll out small bits into thin snakes and cut it up into bit size chunks. If you are feeling particularly fancy you can roll a fork over it to make little lines for the sauce to cling to.

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For sauce, we just used a simple creamy sage sauce, but the gnocchi is fairly bland so next time I would use either a tomato sauce, or something else flavourful.

Happy Halloween everyone!