6 DIY Advent Calendars

The Christmas season is almost here.  I got to thinking about advent calendars and how as a kid eating that crappy chocolate really wasn’t all that fun.  Even at 4 years old I though it tasted awful!  I did however enjoy tearing the perforated cardboard to see what shape the chocolate was for that day!  On a quest to start a family tradition I started searching for a nostalgic way to continue the tradition with my own family.  I came across some awesome ideas and just had to share them with you.

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photo credits Cherished Bliss (top right), Sas Interiors (Second from top on right), Echoes of laughter (Middle on right),Visual Heart (second from bottom on right), Drachenbabies (Bottom on right), Dandee-designs (on left)

1 – Mason Jar Lid 12 Day Advent Calendar

The handy gals at Cherished bliss are to thank for this idea. They skipped the usual 25 day advent calendar and made it a 12 day count down.  Great idea for those who get impatient:)  Pretty well all of the required supplies are things you’ll have around the house if you’re into making and creating. If not, than I’m sure you’ll be able to improvise

2- Stenciled Muslin Bag Advent Calendar

These stencilled muslin bags take a little more time if you’re stencilling each one.  To speed up the process you could just stencil on the numbers in holiday colours and have it up and ready in no time!  Echoes of laughter gives an awesome play by play tutorial.  I think this is the one I want to do for my home.

3-Yarn Wreath Advent 

Danyelle of Dandee has incorporated an advent calendar onto a wreath to make fantastic awesome holiday decor.  A simple wicker wreath wrapped in yarn is the base of this calendar.  Fastened with clothes pegs are the festive red envelopes printed with numbers 1 through 25.  In each envelope there’s an advent activity!  If you have kids or just a really fun spouse doing an activity over eating poor chocolate is the way to go!

4 – Clothes Peg Advent Calendar

Get ready to up cycle & re-porpose!  This DIY advent calendar is inexpensive and all supplied needed are easily found around the house or at your neighbourhood thrift store.   Visual Heart has an amazingly eclectic selection of DIY ideas.   I’d be silly to not share this Vancouverite with my readers.

5- Pallet Christas Countdown Tree

I love me a good DIY pallet project!  Get out your measuring tape, nails and saw for this one!  Takes a little more prep work but it’s rustic charm is well worth it.  Sas interiors has created an advent calendar that hosts no morsels to chew nor activities to do.  You count down the days by adding a new holiday ornament as each new day arrives.  The finished look is prefect.

 

6 – Glass Jar Advent Calendar

This is a perfect fit for on a mantle or in that unusable wood burning fire place that so many homes seem to have.  It will warm the house and create that fuzzy, cozy holiday feeling.  Gather 25 glass jars of varying sizes, washi tape, tea lights and stencil on your numbers!  Voila!  Your new advent calendar is ready!  This awesome creation came from Drachenbabies “Sewing-Diary”.  It’s an awesome site that I wish I could translate.  Luckily this DIY tutorial is pretty self explanatory.

December is almost here!!!! So you and I better get crackin’!
Happy December festivities 🙂
Julie

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

It’s soup season in our home and there’s an abundance of squash at the produce stand in the Vancouver area.  I went nuts and bought 6 butternut squashes!!!!  This recipe has plenty of flavour and healthy fats!  Good for brain function and energy:)

butternut Soup

 

Here’s what you’ll need

– a 9 x 13 glass or ceramic dish

– 1 medium OR 2 small sized butternut squash

– 2 cups chicken stock (I made mine from GoBio Chicken Bouillon Cubes)

– 1/2 cup coconut milk (to blend with the soup)

– 2 tbs melted bacon fat

– 2 tbs MCT oil (Multi-chain-triglyceride) OR regular coconut oil

– salt and pepper to taste

– 1 tbs coconut milk to add to each bowl just before serving.

Here’s what you’ll do

COOK YOUR SQUASH & MAKE CHICKEN STOCK

– turn oven to 400 F

– cut squash in half and scoop out seeds

– put 1/2 inch of water into your glass or ceramic baking dish, place the squash upside down in the water, bake it for 45 minutes.  * you’ll want the squash nice and soft so it’ll blend easy.

– While the squash cooks, dissolve your chicken bouillon cubes into 2 cup of water – allow the stock to cool before you blend it!!! – hot liquids can be dangerous to blend –

– allow the cooked squash to cool (I usually put it in the freezer in a room temperature dish).  Once cooled, remove the peel and cut or scoop the squash into 1 inch cubes for easy blending

*Now you have your cooled squash and your cooled chick stock,

– put both the squash and chicken stock in the blender or food processor  – being careful not to over fill either, you may need to blend or process the soup in two batches depending on the volume your machine can safely hold.

– add the coconut milk, melted bacon fat, MCT oil OR Coconut oil to the blender or food processor and process until it reaches your desired texture.  I blend mine until it’s smooth and buttery.

– add salt & pepper to taste.

Before serving add a tbs of coconut milk and swirl it with a spoon for presentation and a punch of sweet flavour!

Cheers to Soup!

Julie 🙂

Almost Paleo Coconut Cookies

I’ve a HUGE bag of coconut flour.  Today it was time for me to put it to use!  I’ve titled this “Almost” paleo coconut cookies because needless to say there is some wheat four in the recipe.  The original recipe is from the blog Beautiful Disasters. I changed the original amount of flour from 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour to 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup almond flour.  The cookies came out AMAZING!  I would be willing to try it with all almond flour next time.

coconut cookies

Here’s what you’ll need

– 1/2 cup butter (I prefer butter from cows fed an all grass diet)

– 1/4 cup brown sugar

– 1/4 cup white sugar

-1 egg

-1 teaspoon vanilla

– 3/4 cup all purpose flour

– 1/2 cup almond flour  (*almond flour is simply raw almonds that I ground in a food processor.  Almond flour can also bought)

– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

– pinch of salt (optional)

– 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Here’s what you’ll do 

*preheat open to 350 degrees F

1. cream the butter and sugars together

2. add the egg and vanilla, beat well

3. add the all purpose flour, coconut flour, baking soda and salt, mix again

4. place parchment paper on a cookie sheet (keeps cookies from sticking & keeps cookie sheet clean!).  Spoon teaspoon sized batter onto the parchment paper, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.  The cookies cook evenly without having to press them down or making perfect cookie clumps.

5. bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges have just started to turn golden.  Allow the cookies to cool for a minute or two before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Hubby came home and has eaten a good load of them already!  I think they’re a hit:)

If you make these and have success with any recipe changes please come back and share your success!

*store cookies in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag.

coconut cookies in box

DIY: silver polish

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It’s no secret that I prefer natural methods of cleaning, cooking, eating and life in general.  When I came across my nasty, heavily tarnished silver I didn’t deviate from this preference.  Without further ado here is what I did.

 what you’ll need

– tarnished silver jewellery or silver cutlery

– kettle of HOT boiled water

– glass or ceramic medium sauce pan

– baking soda

– aluminum foil

what you’ll do

– line the medium sauce pan with a sheet of foil (I placed the foil SHINY side up)

– lay your silver on the foil.  Be sure it has contact with the foil

– sprinkle baking soda over your silver

– pour the boiled water over your silver so that it covered and allow it to sit for 5 minutes

– after 5 minutes carefully remove your silver from the HOT water, rinse it in cool water and dry it completely with a clean cloth

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above: silver magically coming clean

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above: silver just out of its baking soda & hot water bath

That’s all there is to it!

No scrubbing, no harsh chemicals just a couple of everyday household goods!

Time to shine up!!  xo julie

etsy love

It’s no secret I LOVE etsy and you might too!

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Its an awesome on line community of artists and crafters from all over the world who sell their handmade or vintage goods.  The selection of items have shown nearly no limits.  Although I haven’t searched for a home on etsy I could buy nearly everything I need for my home on there.  Need a handmade coffee table made out of reclaimed wood? How about some new pillows for your sofa? Bikini for your next surf or a floppy hat for your next trip to wine country?

I made my first purchase on etsy about 2.5 years ago.  I bought my bridesmaids gifts, wedding invites and a BIG banner for my wedding from there.  The banner has hand painted words onto canvas and came from a Kara Melwood in Alberta, Calgary.  The bracelets I gifted to my bridesmaids came from a selling LeAnn Larson in Minnesota,
United States.   I have since bought just over 25 items from sellers on etsy.

My love for etsy satisfies my deep belief that supporting business at the grass roots level is highly important to community, fellowship and personal health.  And besides, it’s an AWESOME way to get my hands on goods from anywhere in the world.  There’s something special about quality handmade goods.  I absolutely love knowing that I’ve purchased something directly from the person who’s made it themselves.  I’d like to someday open up my own etsy shop and get my “etsy-on”.  I wish to have my own little work shop one day where I can paint, stain and create like the best of them.  I’ve limited experience in doing so but I know that I can.

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chalkboardpaint

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Confession time.  I have a new addiction.  It’s an old time addiction for some.  I just discovered chalk board paint about four months ago.  Any avid DIY’er would be having a chuckle by now.  Turns out the matte paint has been a hit in the DIY department for ages.  Not having a Home Depot or a mega craft store within walking distance has helped postpone my personal discovery of the stuff.   I’d happily paint an entire wall for my 1.5 year old to chalk up if my husband and I owned our condo.   I’ll save that chalkboard dream for when we own a home and have a wicked playroom for the kiddies. In the mean time I’m happy to paint old mirrors with the matte paint and dive right in as if it’s never been done before.

I’ve played around the paint on (roller/brush) version.  I used Martha Stewarts grey chalk board paint over an old mirror.  I primed the mirror surface first and painted three coats of the grey.  It only called for two coats but I’m picky and did one more.  The chalkboard paint rolled on well, dried well and lives up to any chalkboard standards you may have.  Remember the important step of coating your newly painted chalkboard surface with a layer of chalk BEFORE writing anything on it.  Turn your piece of chalk on its side and rub it over your entire chalkboard surface.  Once I did that step I was clear for take off and have happily written many messages with no ‘stain’ of old worlds left behind from previous writing.  I’ll post my mirror converted to chalkboard in the very near future.  In the mean time I’ll continue to dream via pinterest for more ways to use chalkboard paint!

coffee date-bites

date bitesThe delicious morsels are AMAZING and i’d betcha you can’t eat just one.  I found the original recipe from a great site “Our Paleo Life”.  Kendra is the master mind behind the site and she is clever in the kitchen.  Her bites recipe was for key lime pie bites and cherry pie bites.  Needless to say but I’ll say it anyway, “I am happy to stumbled across her delicious bites recipe”.  I’ve made her bites three times and on fourth time I decided to play around with the recipe myself.  I like my coffee, but I don’t always want to necessarily make a cup mid day.  To satisfy my craving for a mid day coffee as well as a snack I came up with these coffee date-bites.

Here’s what you need

-10 Medjool dates, pitted

– 1 cup Almonds (unsalted)

– ½ cup Cashews (unsalted)

– ¼ cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut (aka coconut flour)

– 1.5 tbs water or chilled coffee (you could need a little less depending on the moisture in your dates)

– 1 tsp real vanilla extract (adding some real vanilla beans is awesome too)

– 1.5 tbs freshly ground espresso beans

Here’s what you’ll do

– Put the dates, almonds, cashews, coconut and ground espresso beans in a food processor. Process the mixture until there is variety in its texture.  half fine, half coarse.

– With the food processor running, slowly pour in all the vanilla and THEN the water (or chilled coffee) a little at a time.  You may not need all the water (or coffee) depending on the natural moisture already present.  Too much moisture will make the mixture too sticky and difficult to roll into bites/balls.

– When the mixture begins to ball together, turn food processor off.

– Roll your mixture into what ever sized bites you prefer!  large marble size works well:)

– Bites will keep for unto a week when stored in an airtight container in your fridge.

ENJOY these!!  They are awesome! And give thanks to Kendra over at Our Paleo Life

Community facebook page = deals!

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Let’s be frank, plenty of families could use a deal when it comes to raising a family.  We are one of  them.  When I found my self with an armload of kids shoes sized 2-5 that my little one hadn’t ever worn I posted my stash on a facebook page run by a local mother in my community.  While I was at it I created an add on craigslist as well.  I had enormous success from the post I did on facebook and nil from the craigslist add.  Now, I could have just as easily dropped the shoes by my local second hand shop.   Second hand shops can be amazing places filled with unique finds at great prices.  This is what I’m noticing with the second hand shops in my area, the prices for second hand goods are way too high!!  Is there such thing as inflation on thrift store goods??  The prices could be a reflection of the cost of rent for these retail spaces in growing areas.  What ever the reason I still frequently make donations because the shops support local charities and organizations who do wonderful things for others.  In the mean time when I have something in next to new condition or if my little one needs some new clothes I’ll frequent my local facebook page for awesome deals.  Most things listed are $3 for one article of clothing or a new-in-the-box baby room monitor for $25.  The other beautiful thing is that the moms in the physical community get to know eachother in the virtual community of facebook.  The deals just keep passing around from one local family to the next.

I sold the above shoes for $15.  In the shops they sell for $35.  I’d say the mom who bought them got a pretty good deal.

A facebook story by mom protocol:)

Bikini Bound = a daily sweat!

kettle bell picI’m a health conscious gal who slips up in the health department at the best of times to enjoy a good ol’ slice of cheese cake, a helping of fries or a plate of pasta.  Ugh!  This food makes my brain instantly “happy” and then 30 minutes later it makes my GI system “unhappy”.  My unhappy gut is my 1st reminder of why I can’t eat like I used to and my body composition (lean mass to fat ratio) is my 2nd reminder.  As of right now I have a 3rd reminder of my I can’t eat that way and it’s the fact I’m going to be sporting a bikini in 5 week from now for a month!   “Yeahhhhh” and “uh-oh” were my two initial thoughts!  So I got my butt moving, literally, and got my sweat on!

I’ve mentioned that we live in a condo, so space isn’t bountiful.  I do have an enormous closet and this is where I roll out my yoga mat and get my daily sweat while my little one naps.  I hybrid my workouts with routines from my coach (aka my husband), videos from you tube as well as yoga.  I’m SWEATING in a matter of minutes, I’m not board and I’m getting results and I’m done in about 20 minutes!  I really just wish that my mommy blubber would melt off on its own buuuuut it turns out it doesn’t work that way!

Let’s talk food!  I’m doing intermittent fasting.  Don’t trust me to explain it well, instead check out David Asprey‘s post on it.  The just of it that we only eat between 2pm-8pm.  Yup we only eat for 6 hours a day and it will always be a caveman diet.  My husband and I do a lot of what Dave writes about and we think it’s pretty awesome.   This is where we got the crazy idea of blending butter in our coffee!  Yummmmm so GOOD!

low-toxic coffee - "Bulletproof Coffee"