12/19/2014

Just chill this Christmas


It's Christmas incase you didn't know.  The season of good tidings and joy and thankfulness and happiness. Everything is dripping in ice and shine and the food, oh the food!

But it's also the season of anxiety and stress, anger and dissatisfaction.

And nothing highlights this opposition more than when i'm in a store.

Shopping for gifts is so exciting, I love planning and putting together items and trinkets I think the person will like. It's so contenting to see someone open a gift tailored to them and love the thought and effort you put into arranging it.  And sometimes effort take a bit of time, shopping around, and browsing in multiple stores. That's normal and totally fine.

But it's not when it becomes the main thing. When getting the perfect gift for gift's sake is above the thoughtfulness of giving someone a present they would like.

Hear me out when I say it's not the only thing that matters. Fighting with other customers because someone is holding something you want, elbowing people through crowds, snapping at sales associates, ruining store displays- don't be that guy!  Why be so sour? What does it achieve?

Remember when you were younger and you made Christmas fruit print pictures or salt dough ornaments for your parents as gifts and how much they seemed to love them? How they still hang those ornaments, disfigured and salty on the tree every year?

 It's kindergarten sure, but it was something you made, something simple, something you were excited to give to them showing them your accomplishments; something I'm guessing they still have stored away kept safe in a fire proof container just incase.

Because it is always the thought and never the item.

always the reason and never the package.

So to paraphrase the blunt words of a jewellery seller (who I am slightly afraid of):

don't worry about it, don't get hyped up about getting THE gift.  What's the point! It stresses you out way more than the other person and no one needs that right now. Don't be mean, don't be selfish- just chill this Christmas.

Chill.

12/17/2014

Make your own lattes at home


The worst discovery as of late- and by worst I mean best- has been a handheld milk frother.

Best because I can make little lattes with ease. Using the frother is so simple it's nuts.

Worst because this means I've been drinking a bit more coffee than usual because I want to froth milk!

It all started when I purchased this fancy milk frother french press looking thing on the cheap and it came with no instructions. So I looked up how-to's and all the milk frothing demos were done with the little wand instead.  I already had a wand I never used because It didn't seem to work, so I tried it out  again after following some instructions and the results were exactly what I wanted them to be!

And that's why, you always read the instructions.

All you do is

  • In a small container preferably with a spout for pouring, heat your milk ( I use 2 % or barista almond milk) in the microwave at around 30-90 seconds depending on how hot you want it 
  • Once you take it out froth the milk with the wand so it goes creamy and dense. I usually do this bit over the sink because I get milk everywhere every time.
  •  Pour coffee into your mug about half full. Pour a bit of your milk into the coffee and stir, then pour the rest into your mug filling it to the top and voila! 


This video was what started it all. The frother was 10 bucks at Walmart.  Wonder if it would work for tea lattes...

12/15/2014

Winter Wonderland vase


Pinterest is the best for procrastination. While I should have been doing a million other things I scrolled endlessly through the Christmas pins ooohing and ahhhing at each simple but probably difficult christmas craft until I landed on this DIY, a little wonderland.

Mini hot dogs, teacup yorkies, tiny towns; who doesn't like miniature things! And especially at Christmas!

It seemed like a no brainer to give this DIY a shot when I stumbled upon miniature Christmas town parts at the dollar store. I could commit without throwing down a lot of money, and if my project failed I could just shrug it off. Self preservation people!

But everything fell into place and my tiny winter wonderland was born in a glass vase. It adds a bit of whimsy without having to havethe full town. And it makes such an elegant centrepiece.

Perfect simple decor. And an excuse to buy fake snow.

12/12/2014

Maple Frosted chocolate cupcakes



Okay so maple frosted cupcakes. Enough said right?

I decided to try a new kind of frosting instead to broaden my cupcake horizons.

All the ingredient were on-hand and it took almost no time to make.

I decided to use  chocolate cupcakes for the base to offset the sweetness of the icing. Perfect for Christmas parties!

Simple, fast, decadent: I'm sold.

Chocolate Cupcakes
makes a dozen
via

(Or use a Better crocker box, I won't tell!)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup warm coffee or warm water (I used coffee)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners or spray well with vegetable spray.
2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In large bowl, beat together sugar, oil and egg until thick and pale, about two minutes with a handmixer. Beat in vanilla.
4. With mixer on low, or with whisk, mix in the flour mixture and coffee (or warm water) alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
5. Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons, fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake for about 16 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted into center comes out with only a few crumbs attached.
6. Allow cupcakes to cool in pan on wire rack for about 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully remove cupcakes from pan and allow them to cool completely on wire rack.
7. Frost when cool.

Maple butter frosting
via

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup cream cheese 
Beat one 100 grams (1/2 cup) of butter with 100 grams (3/4 cup) of brown sugar and 100ml (1/2 cup) of maple syrup. Once smooth beat in 250 grams (1 packet or 1/2 pound) of cream cheese (or close if the packet is slightly different) until light and fluffy. 

12/10/2014

Two easy appetizers


The last thing you want to be doing come Christmas is slaving away in the kitchen (unless that's your thing). For me, the faster I can make my food the better. Get in get out get eating. Making good food doesn't always have to be hard to be rewarding!

 Enter Bruschetta (bru-sketta) and Bread dip, two easier than pie appetizers you can bring with you wherever you go or eat at home between merriments. Both take less than 10 minutes to make and both are so basic that you can spruce each dish up with whatever ingredients you'd like! (I use these on the daily for eating, holidays or not.) Get fancy!


Simple Bruschetta
  • Bread
  • Tomato
  • Garlic/ spread of choice
  • italian seasoning
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • whatever else you want
1. Toast how many slices of bread you want with whatever method you prefer. I use the toaster for maximum speediness.
2. Once bread is toasted, rub garlic (or spread whatever you'd like) on the tops
3. Chop as much tomato as desired and toss with a bit of olive oil, salt, and italian seasoning.
4. Place on crusted bread, garnish with cheese or leave it as is.
5. Eat


Bread Dip
  • Olive oil
  • balsamic vinagrette
  • italian seasoning
  • salt
  • crusty bread
1. In a small bowl or plate pour a bit of olive oil, then balsamic vinagrette
2. Sprinkle italian seasoning and salt
3. Eat 

12/08/2014

Rose water facial spritzer


The funniest thing happened at work recently.

While cleaning the floor we found a pink rose.  Not garbage or gum but a flower.

It was so weird and we laughed as we asked customers if they lost a rose. No one claimed it so I decided to take it home instead of dumping it.

So it sat and sat until it began to wilt and I thought, instead of letting the beautiful rose go to waste i'd use the petals to make rose water.

I've been on a bit of a DIY beauty binge as of late.  It started with the coconut coffee bars and has since spiralled into a what I can I make instead of buy? spree. It's become really easy to incorporate homemade products into everyday use, and rosewater spritzer is just an example!

All you do is
  1. put rose petals in a pot
  2. pour 2 cups boiling water on them
  3. cover and let stand for 1/2 hour.
  4. Add to a spritzing bottle and
voila!

Homemade rose water.

I added 2 drops of Lavender and 2 drops of rose essential oil for fragrance.

So fancy.


12/05/2014

Podcasts


I have been using my phone for something other than phone-stuff (!) I know, shocker.

About once or twice a week I'll use the app called Stitcher Radio, which basically stitches selected radio shows and podcasts together to make one giant, endless, radio show. D showed me it one time while we were driving and I thought it was cool, but I was sold after listening to Serial and the brilliant reporting/story telling of Sarah Koenig, the shows host.  I've been hooked ever since.

 It's nice to listen to when you have chores to do or monotonous activities. There are so many podcasts to choose from, the listening and learning is endless!

And, bonus: you can download shows while connected to wifi for later listening! Huzzah!

A couple podcasts I like are:

This American Life

Serial

Stuff You Missed In History Class

Latest News from 89.3 KPCC

One Minute Romanian



Give it a try this weekend; it's perfect for all that gift wrapping!