Healthy Peanut Butter Cups

DSC04158These are my disproportionate homemade peanut butter cups. I had a sudden urge one afternoon to make them one afternoon while in the middle of my workout. Ironic. It’s so simple with coconut oil, natural peanut butter, honey, cocoa, and not much more. I got the recipe from Fit Foodie Finds after a quick google search. Mine needed a little more sweet, a little less chocolate, and to be a whole lot smaller. The mini-muffin tray is key…these were too huge! Enjoy!

 

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Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

DSC04103This is my semi-successful attempt at making homemade liquid laundry detergent. I tried this recipe here and turned my baking soda into washing soda from this recipe. I quartered the recipe as a first go, and it was just enough to fit into an old 4 liter detergent jug. My detergent turned out a bit gloppy, and it doesn’t look really pretty, but it does the job! DSC04077 DSC04102DSC04104 DSC04116 DSC04122 DSC04132 DSC04137DSC04144

 

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So Long, Excess.

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Too much stuff. It’s an epidemic in our culture. I’m amazed at how much we’ve already accumulated from moving to a slightly larger apartment. But no more. In an effort to simply declutter and minimize in our lives, I’m starting with the closet (and the kitchen). Here’s a peek at my winter “capsule” wardrobe (25 items or less, not including undergarments, socks, etc). And it’s surprisingly more then enough! Minimalism may be trending right now, but I say be here to stay!

FIVE SWEATERS // SIX SHIRTS // THREE PANTS // TWO LEGGINGS // FOUR TANKS // ONE BLAZER

PROS: HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR THAT SEASON // SPEND LESS // WORRY LESS // ORGANIZED

CONS: WEAR OUT CLOTHES FASTER // ITS CAN BE A MENTAL & EMOTIONAL SWITCH

I have the luxury of working an ESL teacher which allows for fairly casual attire. So this wardrobe works for me. Many of my colleagues have lived overseas where it is perfectly acceptable to wear the same outfits repeatedly. The same is true for the cultures of my students. I like that. Less pressure.

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Purifying Water with Charcoal

DSC04041I first learned of charcoal purification from Erin. I wanted to try it, but still had some life in our Brita filter. And then that ran out, and never replaced it. Tap water is fine! I will drink it regularly for the rest of my life. But when I did some reading on the toxins that can be in tap water that can harm our health over time, I thought I could at least give the charcoal a try. So in the name of detoxifying and minimizing waste in our kitchen, I took the plunge. The charcoal is inexpensive, recyclable and easy to use. And I did notice there is a sweet, clean taste in comparison to the original tap water.

I. BOIL FOR TEN MINUTES

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II. REMOVE AND COOL

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III. PLACE IN PITCHER, FILL WITH TAP WATER, LET SIT FOR AT LEAST SIX HOURS.

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IV. DRINK UP!

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Our Home DIYs

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These three DIYs are ones I have been wanting to do since before I had a home. I loved the simple look of a shaker coat hanger, but couldn’t find the one I dreamt of. So with a Google search and a Anthropology “W” hanger I have been treasuring since our engagement, I finally got to work and made our own. DIYs don’t always save money, but the time spent crafting something that was a design in your mind is pretty rewarding. Here are a few of our projects from the last six months.

Shaker Style Coat Hanger

Difficulty: Easy (the measuring was the most tedious)

Materials: Paint (from living room), Hangers (Home Depot, Anthro), Pine board (Home Depot), Screws

Cost: $22

Lesson Learned: measure twice ten times…hang once.

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Copper Wall Pot Rack

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: See tutorial

Cost: $37

Lesson Learned: Copper is a softer metal which cause it to bend if weighed down too much. I don’t want to test its true strength and opted out of hanging a cast iron pan.

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Side Tables

Difficulty: Moderate

Materials: Hand sander, Sand Paper, Stain Primer, Gel Stain, Wax Finish

Cost: About $40

Lesson Learned: Save your arms and strip the stain FIRST! Sand ALL THE WAY DOWN to the original wood! Don’t do this again…ever. :)

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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Our Christmas Apartment

DSC03957Just a few shots from our perfectly imperfect apartment over Christmas. Its just the right size and I would happily raise a family of six in it just to enjoy all the corners, large windows, and the forested view.  It takes 45 minutes to clean ceiling to floor, and has willingly submitted to my regular styling and restyling. I keep chanting, “Less is more. Less IS more” in hopes to slowly achieve a minimalist and airy space. It’s pretty fun to have a space to work with. I took these pictures to remember Christmas 2014, like I did for 2013. These are fun early years.

Of course we hope you had a full and blessed Christmas with you and yours! May this New Year be full of just the right things!DSC03931 DSC03932

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What Immigration Looks Like Part 5: Family Coming to Us

DSC03918That little girl I’m holding is our first sweet treasure. Eleanor is our first niece, Charlie is our one-year-old nephew and there are two more journeying their way into our extended family into the coming year! Such precious early years. So much happening so fast, and you don’t want to miss a single story, tantrum, toddler sound, infant coo, and utterly adorable two-year-old musings. So while I’m “land locked” awaiting immigration processing, my best friend and sister came from Connecticut to visit us in Ontario for Christmas!!! How blessed we were. Here we are walking on Christmas day around where we had the best day of our lives…our wedding. We’re 18 months further into the future from that day, and in the middle of a trying immigration process, yet thankful everyday for our faith in God and his good and perfect plan for us. It is blessed assurance, and I’m not sure what we’d do without His ever-guiding peace. {E’s face says, “cold” in each of these pictures…an expression that’s hard not to wear in these parts.} Laura, thank you for making unknown months of separation not just bearable but memorable. Give our little bears hugs from Auntie and Uncle. And Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4DSC03917DSC03909DSC03903DSC03896DSC03892

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Lately

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Alas, I didn’t take any picture from our family Thanksgiving, and I’m glad for it. It took the pressure off of getting the right lighting or capturing the true moment. I, for one, am just not there with my photography skills, and it is nice to simply hold those memories in your mind and heart. It was a lovely time shared together.

Our life has been simple lately. Wake up, do our morning routine of shower, read, breakfast, make lunch, tidy. And then bundle up and head out the door, warm up the car, drop Jordan off at work, pick up a colleague to carpool. Teach for two hours, prep for two hours, run some errands or head home to make dinner. There is time in between and sometimes not. I do Pilates and cook, got out for coffee or am at church. Somehow the days are so very full and yet very flexible because of my schedule right now.

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Since I was in middle school I’ve never had a rigid schedule, busy yes, hectic, at times…but never a rigid 9-to-5-this-is-what-I-do-everyday. My sister and I were homeschooled from middle school through to our senior year, and while we did our school work in the morning, we worked as babysitters and music teachers for the better part of our teen years. College was a blissful blur. I loved it and it killed me all at the same time! And now I am working part-time doing my dream job as a college professor. I feel very blessed. I’m very glad for time to journal and pray, to serve and be available for my husband, our church, friends, and colleagues.

Only ten days until my sister and our niece and nephew come, and I am thrilled to pieces! Time to deck the halls!

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American Thanksgiving Menu

DSC03570Last year we hosted our first American thanksgiving…in Canada. It was so memorable because to me it really felt like we weren’t just playing “house” any longer, but rather taking part in the blessing of hosting, dining, and sharing deeply in our own place. I wrote about it in this post.

This year my parents will be in town for the occasion (insert really happy emoji here). It is in us to be traditional some how, ins’t it? To eat dinner together each night, to find adventures, to walk hand-in-hand. Mini-traditions that point to the great Tradition of feeling safe, comforted and, the greatest, unconditionally loved no matter. That tradition our prayer for our home, for every visitor, brother or sister, friend or neighbor.

And on the menu…

Chicken Pot Pie with Butternut Squash, again

Smashed, Mashed or any kind of potatoes

Bacon and Brussels Sprout Salad

A couple added sides brought by friends!

DESSERT:

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Apple Cheddar Tart

Pictures of our evening together to follow. I can’t wait to have everyone under one roof for the first time in months!

xo

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No Better Time To Know My Maker

DSC03723Our home, our dear, sweet nine-hundred-ish square foot apartment. We thought you were beautiful in the summer and fall when the leaves glowed bright forest greens then blazed with autumn burgundy. But how good it’s been to share, and retreat, and grow, and host inside these new walls as we are greeted by this blustery winter wind.

I normally love to sit at our kitchen table. It’s where I go once I’ve made tea and breakfast, and I read my bible or journal before starting my work day. Usually I don’t sit on the couches. To me, they are a black hole. They are once-you-sit-down-you-won’t-get-up taunters. So I usually sit at the table be it morning, lunch or afternoon. But this afternoon I’m getting sucked in. With a restaurant memoir and the prospect of a comfort food dinner…because it’s my birthday. From these cuddly couches I now watch our white wonderland unfold, and I am grateful for another year to love and serve and know my Maker. DSC03719DSC03722Every year my birthday draws me to spend some special alone time with Him for the purpose of reflecting, praying and thanking. He, after all, created me and I love Him so. It grounds me each year to look back in awe and forward with hope, and more importantly to think of others on a day we are “allowed” to self-center. Many things change as we age and grow, loose and love, plan and do, but one of my prayers has not changed since I was fourteen. Each year it is: “Till I only dwell in Thee”. DSC03729

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