A Box of Goodies!

I am so tickled!

Why, you ask?

I'm tickled because there exists such a thing as Luxe Box

What IS Luxe Box, you ask?

It is a delightful service that for a small fee you can receive a variety of high (and low) end samples of makeup, perfume, nail polish etc etc etc.

And for those of you, who like me, love a product that is well marketed, you will love the packaging it comes in.  I know it shouldn't make a difference, but I've always been a sucker for beautiful and well thought out packaging.

I received my first Luxe Box last month and wanted to share with you the fun of opening one for yourself!

How simple and cute this box is! 

Then you slide it open to reveal the joy within!

I mean....come on!  How can they afford such perfection and personalization for my measly $12 a month!

Each box comes with a description of the products within and how much they retail for if you wanted to buy them after you've test driven them.

Once you're finally inside you'll find a bunch of blue squiggly paper....which made me super happy...AND you'll also find your products nestled inside their crinkly blue nest!

What?  Heheh...what's this doing in here...I don't need firming cream...shuh, yeah right...

Oh and I don't know if it was due to it being the December (and therefore chocolate holiday edition) but I also received a chocolate coin!  De-lite-ful!

So all told, I received two Paco Rabanne perfume samples, one limp plumping Lise Watier lip gloss, a Yves Rocher Mandarin Body Wash and the completely and utterly ridiculous DDF Advanced Firming Cream.

All the men who read this I'm sure will think it's an utter waste of money....heck, some of you women may even think so.  But for a small monthly fee, less than two coffees at Starbucks (and FAR less fattening) I can get a box delivered to my door with an element of surprise to it that makes me smile! 

What more can I ask for!?


Patio Lanterns ala Thrift Shops

I've been wanting to make some thrift store lanterns for our deck for quite awhile.  I've seen some great ones online made from jars and such, but when I found these old light fixtures at a thrift store, inspiration struck and I just had to have them!

You see old light covers all the time at garage sales or thrift stores and it's not as if they are cool or modern enough to use in your actual home (unless you want to...then they are totally cool), but wrapping some wire around these babies and putting candles in them really gives them a fun new life!

So I chose two "designs" that called out to me.  Believe me there are dozens of these out there and some are just hideous!  I opted for clear and white glass only as I wanted to have as much light from the candles come through or else whats the point!
 You're going to need 16 gauge wire for these.  Its nice and bendable but you will still need pliers to tighten around the lip of the fixture.  I bought myself some from Michael's and it was really cheap.  I opted for black because I wanted the contrast against the white glass.  The wire comes in a few different choices, so again, just go with your gut and to suit your own astheic!

When assembling these, some of the fixtures you'll be able to sit on the table no problem - the clear glass one I was able to thanks to the points all over it.  The white glass didnt have a flat bottom so I tucked it into a small box for stability.  First thing you'll want to do is measure the length around the lip of the fixture.  Cut the wire about an inch longer so you have room to slip the handle in later and to tighten.

Next eyeball how long you want your handle to be making sure to take into account that you may want a twist at the top like I've done (totally optional - it will work either way) as well as about an inch at the ends that will be looped under the "lip wire".

Next I made a small loop at the top of the handle, just for more decorative appeal.  If you leave it just as a handle that will work as well.  You could at this point get creative and add some loops etc all the way up the handle, but if you opt to do that you'll want to cut the handle longer. 

Next, loop the ends under the lip wire and using pliers twist the ends up around itself.

You may have to manipulate the wire now to get a good shape in the handle. 
Then it's time to find a hook and hang your masterpiece!
I'm loving the look of this all lit up!  It has such a halloweeny glow!

Here's the clear one that I made a couple days ago. I love the sparkle it gives off. 

I would suggest using a votive candle rather than tea lights, but play with different sizes to get the light you're looking for!

I hope you have fun making a lantern or two for yourself!  You might get hooked and be on the lookout for old fixtures everywhere!  I know I am!  I imagine my balcony with a whole cluster of them!

Oh and I just had to share a picture of my Christmas Cactus!  We found this poor guy beside a garbage bin during the summer.  All we had to do was give it some water and man did we get a good return on our investment!

Happy Halloween weekend everyone!!


My Favourite Pancakes

This morning I was supposed to be heading out for a walk in a local garden with my mom (we've been trying to get together to do it for almost 4 months) however when we woke up it was raining and blowing and pretty miserable so we had to postpone again.

Instead I laid in bed a little extra longer and then decided I wanted a treat!  Oatmeal pancakes!

Have you had outmeal pancakes before?  They are SO much better than regular pancakes.  They have a richer texture, a deeper flavour and added benefit of having oats!

There are a million recipes out there for all kinds of pancakes, I'll share mine, but be adventurous and explore all that can be done with pancakes!

Our household tries our best to be vegan.  Well I should rephrase, that my husband IS vegan and I try my best to be.  It helps when I'm making a meal for both of us so I am forced to be.  Today's pancakes needed to be vegan which is partly why I chose oatmeal pancakes.  The combination of oats and apple sauce is just brilliant in these!  General rule of thumb for using apple sauce instead of eggs is to replace 1 egg with 2 tablespoons of apple sauce.  Also, this rule is really only for baking or quick breads where you don't need the egg to be the binder.
So here's what you'll need:
1 cup quick oats (I used a wild oat combination)
1 cup flour (if you're using WW flour, reduce by 1/4 cup)
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp of baking powder
2 Tsp of baking soda
1 Tbsp sugar
1.5 cups almond milk
4 Tbsp apple sauce (or 2 eggs though I encourage you to try apple sauce first)
1 Tsp cinnamon
1 Tsp nutmeg

In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients

Whisk it all together and add one cup of the milk.  I like to save the .5 cup so I can get the consitancy to my liking rather than dumping it all in and possibly having to add flour or oats later.  We use Almond Breeze which is just SO good.  It has a very mild flavour and I promise you won't even notice the difference!!

Now add your apple sauce and stir it all together into a bowl of soupy goodness!

 Now for the magic!
I grate my own but fresh ground nutmeg and cinnamon will be just as good.  Grate 1 tsp each of cinnamon and nutmeg into the batter and give it a good stir!

Cooking these pancakes really doesn't vary from cooking regular pancakes.  Add some oil into a heated skillet and drop your batter in.  I like to use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to drop mine in....I don't know why, it's just handy and then I know they all be about the same!

Wait until you start seeing bubbles on the top of the pancakes and then it's time to flip!

Mmmm tasty and golden!

I usually preheat my oven to the lowest setting and pop the cooked pancakes in there.  I really wish that the internet was scratch and sniff so you could get a whiff of what I smelt when I opened the oven door.  It was like all the goodness of fall in one yummy scent! 

Once they were all done I cut up some apple slices to serve on the side.  I learned an amazing trick to keep them from browning - simply cut the apple in a bowl of water with a PINCH of salt.  It doesn't affect the flavour but stops the browning process completely!  It's awesome!  This trick comes in super handy for the lunch boxes I make for some people at work (more on that later).

Now you're ready to plate up your yummy goodness!  I sprinkled some cinnamon on my apple slices and that just made it divine!!

I hope you like this recipe if you use it!  You will find that these pancakes and way more filling than a regular flour pancake so start with a couple and get seconds if you're still hungry!  Also the apple sauce makes them rich and much denser than they would be without.

This recipe also lends itself to lots of interpretation.  You could easily make it gluten free by simply changing the flours you use.  One of my favourite way to make these is to up the cinnamon, sub half the milk for orange juice and add grated orange peel....OMGoodness super tasty!  Another option would be to use canned pumpkin instead of the apple sauce!!  Y.U.M

Hope you're enjoying your fall morning wherever you are!  I know I am!!


Home-Made Salve

I'm super excited!

The calendula/plantain oil that I made a few weeks ago (here) was finally ready to make into something!  Originally the plan was to make it into a hair treatment, but after getting sun burnt a couple times this year (yes I know, bad bad bad!), I decided I wanted to make it into a lovely healing salve for my skin.

Mind you my sun burn is all gone now, but I'm sure my skin could use some healing even now.

To make a salve you'll need your oil (preferably one of your own making, but it's cool if you don't).  I used extra virgin olive oil for mine, only because that's all I had in my house but there are lots of oils out there for use in home-made cosmetics.

You will also need some beeswax for solidity, and another butter or two.  I used cocoa and shea butters.  Locally you can get both of these things at Simple Remedies herbal shop on Cook St.

First you want to make sure that the jar (preferably glass) is sterile so you'll want to simmer it in hot water while you work on the oil.

So, because I created my own healing oil out of plant material, I have to first get all that plant material out.  This is the messy bit!  First pour the whole jar out into a sieve covered in cheeseclothe  over a bowl.  Once everything is in the cheeseclothe, gather it all together and squeeze all the oils out of the plant material.  This can take some time and will leave you covered in oil...but its great for your skin so it's all good!

Even with the cheeseclothe you may still find that some small particles slip through so you'll want to do another strain.

Once you've removed all the gunk from the oil, you're ready to start creating your salve!
You'll need to finely chop or grate up your beeswax.  As I understand it you can also buy beeswax in 'beads', though I suspect you'll pay more for that.  The butters are a bit easier to deal with, they are generally softer and you can simply scoop or crumble them into a measuring spoon.

Alrighty, you're ready!!  In a pot, combine your oil, beeswax and butters and heat them slowly over low heat.

Once they have melted completely remove from heat and let them rest for a couple minutes then add in some essential oils of your choosing.  You can opt for ones that you simply like the scent of, or use ones that contain healing properties of their own. 

I used Tea Tree, as it also helps preserve the salve, and Sweet Orange.  The scents combine to make a really beautiful aroma.  Make sure you're using the correct essential oils - these are NOT the same as the oils you use to make your house smell nice, just your body!

Do a sniff test of the oil once you've added the essential oils.  Keep in mind that the scent will lessen slightly when the oil is cooled.  Using too little can be so disappointing when you've made up your oil only to find that it smells just like plain oil.

After about 5 minutes it's time to transfer the melted salve into your jars.  Make absolutely sure that your containers are dry.  Any water can cause the salve to go off too quickly.  I like to give mine a good dry in the oven after they've been sterilized.

When you first pour the oil into the jar it will still be quite translucent but it will slowly set from the bottom up until it's completely opaque.  You can see in the smaller bottle in the background how it's setting from the bottom.

It's always best to let the salve set overnight, this allows it to fully harden.  I can't wait to slather this on my over-tanned bod tomorrow!

Here are the general measurments for this salve.  You can play with the amounts slightly to give yourself different consistancies.  Also I based my measurements on how much calendula/plantain oil I had.

12 Tbsp - Oil
6 Tbsp - Beeswax
13 Tbsp - Combination of Shea and Cocoa Butters
50 Drops - Combination of Tea Tree and Sweet Orange Essential Oils

I hope you found this useful and feel confident enough to dabble in home-made cosmetics with this easy step by step.  I promise, other than making the oil initially, this is a simple way to get into making your own creams and salves!


Blueberries Fields

Well, as promised I went back for more blueberries and to take some pics.  We got WAY more this time, now I have to figure out what to make with them!  Definitely going to freeze a bunch for smoothies!