Wednesday: Do it Yourself Challenge!

Hello parents and guardians! How are you coping these days? This challenge is for you. We are all having a hard time keeping up with homework assignments, “online learning”, and keeping children active. While observing my own kids in the house all day, it dawned on me that we should get creative with our indoor space to help kids have fun again. I researched some easy DIY spaces that might be interesting for you to explore:

First thing’s first, what does your child like to play? Is he/she a bundle of energy that would appreciate an indoor jungle gym? Or a super artsy child that would fall in love with an art studio? In every kindergarten classroom at school, there is always a kitchen of some kind, that serves as part of the educational experience. If your child loves to cook and bake, it might be fun to incorporate a market or kitchen into their space as well.

The other important thing to remember is that you should start with what you have laying around the house to start a project like this one. Let’s face it, kids grow fast. The less money you can spend on a phase, the better. You could almost blink and they would be over it. You could use old cabinets or crates you can salvage from the garage, or even an outdoor playset that you wash off and set up indoors. Some extra shelves can act as a small library that your little readers will be thrilled to curl up under. The most exciting of all the indoor play projects is the repurposed wardrobe in the picture above! Painting, installing wallpaper in the rear, and drilling a hole for overhead lighting is nothing short of brilliant! Check out the added storage at the bottom. Just lovely! There is no limit to your imagination if you let it run wild.

Your kids will think you are the coolest if you can pull this one off, and not to mention all the free time you will have by keeping them busy;) Good luck! Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday: What’s for Dinner?

I just got in from outside, and it was another beautiful day. Things are coming alive in the yard, and I am busy pruning and seeding to make everything perfect. It’s funny, when you get outside to do some yard work, it feels like another normal day. People walking by with their dogs, greeting you and admiring your dedication to your front yard. Feels like we are back. While we daydream, I thought I’d share a great side dish I found a year ago, while taking a cooking class. It is called, “Mexican Street Corn,”and I bet you you will be back to the bowl for seconds!

This dish pairs nicely with chicken or steak, or for the vegetarians, a juicy black bean quinoa burger with spicy mayo, avocado and mango! I’m just saying! Vegetarians rule this “What’s for Dinner” segment, simply because their recipes mop up the floor in competition tonight! Here are the recipes. See for yourselves:

Mexican Street Corn off the Cob

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 ears of corn, shucked and kernels removed (about 3-4 cups depending on how large your corn is)
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 3 ounces cotija cheese, freshly grated or crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 green onion stalk, finely chopped
  • Handful of freshly of chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat then add the corn kernels. Spread in an even layer and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until exterior is charred/browned, stirring frequently. Be careful of the popping action of the heated kernels!
  • Once charred/browned, place into a large bowl then mix in mayo, cotija, smoked paprika, green onion, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  • Mix to combine then divide evenly and serve!

*Recipe taken from tablefortwoblog.com

Black Bean Quinoa Burgers with Spicy Mayo, Avocado, and Mango

YIELDS:4 SERVINGS 

INGREDIENTS

shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems in tact1 

medium onion, sliced thick1 tbsp. 

extra virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper1/2 c. 

black lentils1/3 c. 

red quinoa6 

dried porcini mushrooms1 tsp. 

low sodium soy sauce1 

egg white, beaten

slices Swiss cheese, optionalFOR SAUCE1/4 c. 

mayonnaise1/4 c. 

dijon mustard 1 

garlic clove, gratedFOR SERVING

Potato buns

Sliced Mango

Butter lettuce 

Avocado

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Tear shiitakes into medium pieces and place on medium baking sheet with sliced onions. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and just starting to brown, 33 to 35 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  2. Meanwhile, make lentils and quinoa: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add black lentils and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, then and quinoa and porcini mushrooms and continue to simmer 20 minutes more, until lentils and quinoa are cooked through. Drain through a fine mesh sieve and remove hydrated porcini mushrooms from lentils and quinoa.
  3. Into the bowl of a food processor, combine roasted shiitakes and roasted onions along with the hydrated porcini mushrooms, soy sauce, and egg white. Process until mostly smooth. Add cooked lentils and quinoa to the food processor and blend until mostly smooth. (There should still be some whole lentils and quinoa!)
  4. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Form about 1/4 mixture into thin, round patties, about 4″-5″ across. Add patties to pan as you form them and sear on each side until charred and crisp, 4 minutes. If using, add a slice of cheese as soon as your patties are flipped. Continue cooking patties until all mixture is used, adding more oil to the pan if necessary.
  5. Make sauce: in a medium bowl, whisk to combine mayonnaise, mustard, and grated garlic.
  6. To serve: spread bottom and top bun with sauce, then top bottom bun with burger patty, avocado, mango, lettuce, and top bun.

*Recipe taken from delish.com

I told you the recipes look out of this world! Makes you want to cross over to the vegetarian side, doesn’t it? I have to say that the food can be very seductive. I say, there is no harm in living the life of a vegetarian/vegan, even if only for a while;) A helpful tip, if you can’t find the cotija cheese, use feta instead. It adds a nice sharp flavour, and it also helps the dish to crunch. Feeling these recipes? I say, “Go for it!”. Turn up the bbq and throw on the skillet pan. Enjoy the outdoor serenity. We are almost there! Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday: Confessions of a Shopping Diva

Last year, I was on a mission to find a fabulous dining set for an amazing price. My favourite look is the French style, with upholstered oval back chairs. I searched far and wide, and could not find anything within my price range, which is $2000-$2500. Finally, by fluke, I landed on the Costco website and found this beauty:

I even had “white glove” service from Costco to set it all up for me at home. The price altogether was $2000+ tax. Not bad.

A month ago, I was sweeping the floor and decided to get down on my knees to survey the table. Guess what I saw?

Look at the legs on my beautiful table! This damage was done by the simple tucking in of the captain chair over the course of a few months. I was devastated! The best piece of advice that I could give about the perfect dining table, is to make sure that the legs are made of solid wood. That way, when the chairs bump into the legs, it will not chip and create these terrible white spots on your lovely set.

So, my question to you is, should I return this beautiful set and keep looking around? Or should I find a way to repair the legs?

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I am stumped on what to do, so the vote belongs to you. I would love your opinion at the bottom of this segment, which I will use to direct my next move. I’m look forward to hearing from you. Until Next time, happy Monday everyone!

Sunday: At Home

I have to admit that today was a bit of a milk dud! I went to a drive-by birthday party (the new normal way to celebrate), and took a long drive in the countryside. I needed to clear my head. Too many thoughts these days! Sometimes, you just want to have a regular Sunday, complete with coffee and slippers. I am trying to get settled into this new life of ours, but it’s when I leave the house, and see empty streets and closed stores, it becomes difficult to process. Here’s the thing, I wouldn’t mind my Sunday coffee and slippers if I had a choice on whether I wanted to be in or out for the day. I know it sounds weird, but give it some thought for a second. Choosing to be at home when you know the world is going on around you, is so much sweeter than having no other choice than being home.

However, when I think about what is going on in the hospitals at this point, I sip my coffee in silence. We are in the middle of a crisis, so I will suck it up:) Homesense being closed indefinitely is not the worst that could happen to me. So, I went for a drive with the kids and the hubby, and saw farms and stone cottages that made me all warm inside. The countryside is still beautiful even in the midst of all this mess. I only considered sharing pictures with you right before I sat at the computer this evening, I apologize. I didn’t even bake my scones (but I will definitely do that sometime this week). I have to say that it has been one of those “off” days, but I’m sure you all know what I mean. I’m picking up the pieces of today to make a better tomorrow. The kettle is calling me, as well as a good book. Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday: Reflections

I was scanning through Facebook today, and froze when I saw this:

Kim Jong Un in a ‘vegetative state’ after heart surgery – Japanese Media

China has dispatched a team to North Korea including medical experts to advise on him, according to three people familiar with the situation.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a drill of long-range artillery sub-units of the Korean People’s Army(photo credit: REUTERS)North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s health is reportedly in a vegetative state after undergoing a failed cardiovascular procedure earlier this month, according to the medical team treating him.
Amid conflicting reports about Kim’s health, Japanese weekly magazine Shukan Gendai reported on Friday that a Chinese medical team member on the mission to North Korea briefly explained the situation to its senior writer, Kondm Daisuke.The medical expert said during a visit to the countryside earlier this month, Kim clutched his chest and fell to the ground. A doctor accompanying Kim immediately carried out CPR and took him to a nearby hospital for emergency care.China has dispatched a team to North Korea including medical experts to advise on him, according to four people familiar with the situation. 
Reuters was unable to immediately determine what the trip by the Chinese team signaled in terms of Kim’s health. However Shukan Gendai‘s report claims they were called to the leader’s aid by his accompanying doctor after the incident.

*Article taken from jpost.com

The reason why it shocked me is that just the other day, this man was strutting around, showing of his political muscles, and now, brain dead. The value of life is priceless, but many of us take each day for granted. We go on about our business, making plans for the future, and making selfish choices that lead to personal failures, never considering the consequences of our actions. Believing that we have a lifetime to figure out where we went wrong, we go on with the next day, disregarding the last.

The question I pose today is: How much time do we have left here? If we knew the length of time we have before we pass on, would it change how we go about our everyday dealings? It might be possible that we would all be a bit more careful with what we put out there in the world. I was at the grocery store recently, and in line waiting to cash out. I stepped out to the side of my cart to retrieve something, and an elderly man started yelling at me to watch how close I stood beside him. He used profane language, and made a huge scene. I was both shocked and saddened at the sight. Is this what fear has driven us to? Cursing each other out about the amount of space between us? I even wondered if the Coronavirus was now an acceptable excuse for people to treat others with such open disrespect. It is a disaster. What would I have done in that situation if I were the man in the store? I would simply move over to better protect the both of us. I understand the seriousness of the situation we have on our hands, but we have to remember that we are all in this together. You look out for me, and I look out for you. That way, we are both looking out for each other.

Another thought came to mind,”When it is my time to close my eyes, I wouldn’t want me, cursing in the grocery line, to be the last thing anyone remembers.” We don’t know the final hour, nor what happens after we finally close our eyes, but my suggestion is that if we do things the right way, we could better prepare ourselves for what comes next. It’s better to live knowing that you put your best foot forward, living for others before yourself. It creates a peace of mind that calms you in the toughest moments of life, and allows you to relax about your future. No matter what, God has you. I just wanted us all to think about our lives for a second. If you learned you had days, hours or minutes left to live, what would the last moments of your life look like? Now, let’s put it into perspective. There will always be someone in this world living the reality of their last moments. Be kind to each other, and take care of one another. It is what we were born to do, and is never wrong when it is practiced. I believe there is even a name for the concept; Love. Happy Saturday everyone! I love you all.

Thursday: What’s Baking

This recipe has been on my mind all week, and I’m hoping I could talk you into it. I thought I’d make it a bit of a guessing game on what it is I’m thinking. Well, this recipe debuted in Scotland in the early 1500s, and was originally made with oats. They were made on a griddle or baked flat and round, with either savoury or sweet components that could work as a dessert, or a part of a main dish. The British have made this recipe popular with high tea, churned butter, and homemade jams. Give up? Yes my friends, they are scones. I don’t know about you, but I’m already excited about working up a batch of these babies in my kitchen! Check out the easy recipe I found below just for you:

Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze

Ingredients

Blueberry Scones:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones

Lemon Glaze:

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 lemon, zest finely gratedhttps://cdn.whisk.com/sdk/add-to-list-foodnetwork-com-widget.html?v=4.20.0

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients; the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Using 2 forks or a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Take care not to mash or bruise the blueberries because their strong color will bleed into the dough. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough.
  3. Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Let the scones cool a bit before you apply the glaze.
  4. You can make the lemon glaze in a double boiler, or for a simpler alternative, you can zap it in the microwave. Mix the lemon juice with the confectioners’ until dissolved in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water for the double-boiler method, or in a microwave-safe bowl. Whisk in the butter and lemon zest. Either nuke the glaze for 30 seconds or continue whisking in the double boiler. Whisk the glaze to smooth out any lumps, then drizzle the glaze over the top of the scones. Let it set a minute before serving. Makes 8 scones.

*Recipe taken from foodnetwork.com (Tyler Florence)

I’m sure these scones will be welcomed at the table if you give them a try. If you want, you can put together a “high tea” this weekend, complete with cucumber sandwiches, and wide brimmed hats! Dust off the old tea pot and set the table. Set the scene for a midday of British entertainment, live from your dining room! Be sure to check out my “At Home” segment for my scones on Sunday. Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday: Do it Yourself Challenge!

For those of you who have taken your work home indefinitely, there is a need for an organized spot in your home in order to be productive. I happened to find an article on a few inexpensive office hacks that might be able to help you put some order to your new home office. I hope you find some of these ideas easy to useful.

20 Awesome DIY Office Organization Ideas That Boost Efficiency

1. Stack Mason Jars

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Hot glue together five ball mason jars as shown. Once dry tip on their side and use for spacious little cubbies for pens, pencils, staples, and other small items.

2. Binder Clips To De-Tangle Cords

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Clip binder clips to the side of a desk to hold USB and other cables. Thread through the metal part to keep cords tangle free.

3. Jelly Jar Storage

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Remove the desired shelf and place upside down on work surface. Space the lids two inches from another. Screw, nail, or hot glue the lid in place. Return to shelf and screw in jars.

4. Peg Board

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Frame a pegboard and hang above the desk to store items. The peg board can hold small items like scissors and tape.

5. Re-Use An Old Shutter

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Use to hold pending or paid bills. Or use the top half as the in-box and the bottom half for out bound bills.

6. Shoe Box Storage

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Pin together shoe boxes with clips to store light books and papers. If you prefer to be more decorative, cover the shoe boxes in shelf lining or wrapping paper.

7. Re-Purpose Magazine Holders

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Attach  new or used magazine holders to a shelf to hold items. Paint or cover with shelf paper to match the room decor.

8. Re-Purpose Wall Brackets

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Re-purposed wall brackets make lovely magazine, envelope, or paper holders. The fancy look will add a touch of class to your office at home or at work.

9. Make A Desk

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Turn bookcases and an old door into a beautiful desk with plenty of storage. The low bookcases provide plenty of storage to keep the desk clear of clutter.

10. Drawer Dividers

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Cereal boxes covered in shelf liner or wrapping paper make for great divided storage in a desk drawer. Use an exacto knife to trim the boxes to suit the drawer.

11. Hidden Desk

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Two bookcases with hinges make for a lovely way to hide a desk. The desk-top is designed to fold up when the desk is ready to close.

12. Hanging Storage Bins

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These hanging storage bins are made from re-purposed disinfecting wipes containers. Hang near or above your office work station.

13. Re-Purpose An Old Window

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An old window can receive new life as a storage space for the office. Hang reminders and use the chalkboard for family reminders. The project can be completed in an afternoon.

14. Mail Sorter

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Create a mail sorter with canvas. Those who sew will really love this idea. There are four categories to store bills or use as an in and out box.

15. Wine Rack Organizer

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Re-purpose a wine rack into a beautiful organizer for your desk. Place empty cups into the spots that hold the wine. And use the cabinet above to store extra supplies.

16. Office In A Chest

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Give a chest new life as a miniature office to store folders and more. The project is quick and easy. And when complete office files and supplies are beautifully hidden.

17. Muffin Tin Storage

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Convert a muffin tin to store odds and ends in a desk drawer.

18. Convert A Wall

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Create a giant ribbon wall. Staple batting and desired fabric to the wall. Use fabric tacks to attach the ribbon. The converted wall will hold papers and much more.

19. Magnetic Knife Racks

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Hang magnetic knife racks vertically to create added storage. Attach hooks for added space.

20. Hang Kitchen Wire Racks

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Kitchen wire racks may also double in the home office for added storage. These may be purchased almost anywhere. Simply look in the kitchen aisle for the racks.

*Article taken from lifehack.org

Getting your space organized is an important part of being effective at your work, and these hacks also allow you to repurpose items you have laying around the house. How neat! All you need to do now is look through the DIY list, and figure out which projects you definitely need for your space! You should have it all together once you put your projects into gear! Enjoy working from home because it won’t last forever! #MeetingsInPJs. Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday: What’s for Dinner?

I was on Facebook last week, and a friend of mine posted a poll about who we thought the next iron chef should be: James Barber (The Urban Peasant), or Stephen Yan (Wok with Yan). Do you remember any of those shows from the 90s? Good times! I took a trip down memory lane and researched some dishes from James Barber and Stephen Yan, and came up with these two recipes that I will share with you.

The Urban Chef – Chicken Salad with Pears

*Video taken from youtube.com

Ingredients:

1 Skinless, boneless, cooked chicken breast

1 head of romaine lettuce chopped

1 pear cored and sliced

1 small red onion sliced

1 red pepper, yellow pepper chopped

1 sprig of Tarragon

3 tablespoons of mayonnaise

1 tsp of dijon mustard

Directions:

-chop all of the veggies and chicken

-mix the mayonnaise and mustard in a separate bowl

-plate the lettuce and place tossed veggies and chicken on the platter

-top salad with mayonnaise mixture and tarragon

Enjoy!

Wok with Yan – Beef and Broccoli Stirfry

Ingredients:
2 tsps. dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
1 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsps. cornstarch
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1 lb. flank steak, thinly sliced across the grain
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 Tbsps. oyster sauce
1 Tbsp. Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
2 crowns broccoli, separated into florets
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
2 tsps. chopped garlic
1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons water

Procedure:
1. Marinate the beef: Stir the rice wine, soy sauce, cornstarch, and ginger together in a medium bowl until the cornstarch is dissolved. Stir the beef in the marinade until coated. Let stand for 10 minutes.

2. Prepare the sauce: Stir the chicken stock, oyster-flavored sauce, rice wine, and soy sauce together in a bowl.

3. Cook the broccoli and carrots together in a small pot of boiling water until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

4. Heat a wok over high heat until hot. Add the oil and swirl to coat the sides. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beef and stir-fry until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Add the sauce and broccoli and carrots and bring to a boil. Pour in the dissolved cornstarch and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately.

*Recipe taken from http://recipespy.blogspot.com/

Which ever recipe you choose, I’m sure you’ll have a good time in your kitchen! Get the family on board, or cook online with a friend. Create your memories, and love every minute of them. Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday: Confessions of a Shopping Diva

Creating the perfect room takes a lot of time and patience, and when you sit in your house for as long as you have, you tend to get a little anxious about getting things done. A friend of mine decided that since her days and nights have been centered around her home lately, the layout no longer worked for her and her family. She said the words, “We will sell,” and I shook my head. A piece of advice: Don’t let being in isolation at home allow you to give up on your house. It is true, we do have a lot more time to see the things we dislike about our space, but it is not the time, nor the place to be making changes like that.

Consider your home project by project. After all, it is what you agreed to when you first bought the place. It takes time to make your home your sanctuary, and you have to move in stages. Here is a stage for you to consider about my home: Lighting. My living room is slowly being transformed, but I am in the process of choosing the right table lamps for the area.

I have empty side tables that are in need of companionship, and I need your opinion on them. I will put a few ideas out there, and I want you to have fun in choosing the best option.

*Lamps taken from lampsplus.com, prices ranging from $89-280US per lamp

I hope to make this living room space into a beautiful office/library for the family. There will be built in book shelves, and grey walls, with a couch and a single chair. When you picture all of this in your head, in your opinion, which lamp is the best look for the space described?

I’m thinking that the top right lamp has that “library” feel I’m going for, with its simple, but contemporary drum shade. The light is able to shine upwards and downwards for dual lighting, both for the room, and for reading. Although Lamps Plus have some really amazing lighting and room decor, they have not yet set up their website for Canadians to shop online. However, they promise that it is coming, so Canadians should stay tuned!

For the home of your dreams, line up the projects one at a time, and tackle them one by one. I promise you that you will have a little something new to smile about in various places, that will encourage you about your progress. It makes a difference, believe me. Fall in love with your home again, and enjoy the house that you once loved! Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday: At Home

I have to admit, it wasn’t a very busy day at all, and I sat around for most of the time. Nothing to crazy going on on a Sunday, so I’m thankful. Back to the grind in the morning. Just another Monday…what are your plans for the week ahead? For us here in Toronto, it will be a few degrees above freezing so I’m not sure much will be done outside. I will make time for the laundry cabinets I’ve been working on, and begin the priming process.

Spring cleaning could also be the focus of your week, starting at changing the air filter on the furnace, to washing windows inside and out. How will you find the motivation? One task at a time. Do up a schedule this week for the fridge that includes your daily projects. That way, your steps are ordered for each day, and there will be purpose for your plans.



*Planner taken from pinterest.ca

When it comes to a cleaning schedule, I’ve found a list that may be helpful to you when filling out your planner. Of course, not everything will apply, but you can scan through the lists to see what might be useful for your home.

SPRING CLEANING CHECKLIST

Are you ready to begin? Click here to download our Spring Cleaning Checklist.

ALL ROOMS – Start with tasks that apply to all room, then hit each room one-by-one.

KITCHENS

BEDROOMS

BATHROOMS

HOME OFFICE

  • Clean keyboard with canned air
  • Disinfect computer mouse and phone

LIVING ROOM

  • Remove furniture cushions and vacuum crevasses

LAUNDRY ROOM

  • Clean behind washer and dryer
  • Thoroughly clean lint trap in dryer AND washer

OUTDOORS

*Article taken from mollymade.com

Finding pleasure in a clean home is where it’s at! If we are going to spend so much time here, it might as well be polished and pristine. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. Have you seen the length of that list? There’s much to be done. Let’s seize the day and pray that when we put the mop down, we will see warmer days;) From my house to yours, happy Sunday everyone!