Friday, November 22, 2013

Kitchen | Reorg

Back in September, I got the organizing bug. Does anyone else find September to be a motivating month? I know a lot of people use January to jump start new things, but for me, I always think September is a good time... the fun and lazy days of summer come to a close and I am ready to deep clean, organize and purge. So, I started with the kitchen. The night we got back from our summer holidays. Yup, I don't waste any time. I was practically salivating to dump it out. We actually came home a day early, kind of for this reason. Yes, it's true. I'm only mildly embarrassed. The rest of me is giddy.

Here's what it looked like before. These dark photos are how you know I'm telling the truth about starting the night we got home!! 
That giant toaster oven took up so much of my beloved counter space and we hardly ever use it. Clutter, clutter everywhere. Aaaack.
There was barely any prep space, good grief.
I started by putting the toaster oven into a cupboard. We can pull it out when we want to use it, but I was tired of looking at it. The cutting boards and baking sheets got stored away (except for that pretty wooden butcher block). Actually, the baking sheets are usually stored away but sometimes someone puts them next to the toaster. I pulled some cooking utensils out of my over crowded drawer and stacked them into a jar I had hanging around.
As much as I would love to put that sugar bowl in the cupboard along with the S&P, it would be futile. Kris uses it daily and leaves it out every time. It's a case of "choose your battles", my friends. Sometimes, you just have to adapt ;)
Much better. You can tell that there's actually a backsplash now!
Of course, along with this I cleaned out all of the drawers. Emptied, washed, re-organized. We got rid of small appliances we weren't using, and tried to store things in a more functional way. Like pots and pans in the drawer over the baking supplies because we use pots and pans everyday - baking supplies, not so much. It felt so good to clean everything out and freshen it up. SO MUCH BETTER!!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Treat Yo'Self...

... to a lip scrub. Seriously, at this time of year when the cold starts to bite, my skin gets so, so, SO dry. Right now, the first to suffer is my lips and the skin around them. No matter how many serums and chap sticks I slap on, they are cracking and dry again within a couple of hours (not cute for public, just saying).  I am also terrified that if I don't keep my lips and surrounding skin well-moisturized that I will end up with horrible crevasses around my lips that lipstick will run into as I age. You know what I mean, right? Shudder. Maybe that fear is a bit much. But I'm not risking it.

I decided to look for some diy lip scrubs before dropping some serious coin at Sephora (that place kills me. I am a product junkie, sucker for all things well marketed). I went to the googletron and came across this article at Brit+Co. What I really loved about the recipes is that they are all food-based and I had almost all of the ingredients in my pantry already. I also loved that with the scrub element (sugar), there was a moisture element (coconut oil) so I wouldn't be stripping my already-parched lips of whatever they had left.

I loved all 6 of the recipes and was wishing I had an orange in the fridge to try out that orange/clove mixture - yum!! And the rosemary/peppermint scrub?? YUM!! I definitely would have done that one first if I had peppermint oil on hand. I tried 2 to start with - the cinnamon scrub and the cranberry/vanilla scrub. They were super easy to make. I used the cranberry/vanilla scrub first and omg. It took restraint to not lick it up off of my lips as I scrubbed. It smelled SO good. Careful not to let those cranberry bits run down the drain though - scoop those out of the sink and toss them afterwards to save yourself a plumbing headache. My lips felt so soft and smooth afterwards! It's such an easy step to add to your face-washing routine, it only takes 30 seconds really. So click over to Brit+Co and check out all of the recipes - there are 6! You can really try any concoction in addition to your 1 part sugar : 1 part coconut oil mixture. So many options! And there's no reason why you couldn't use these scrubs for your face or body (other than I wouldn't want to have to clean the bathtub out afterwards - maybe stick to the shower and a more basic scrub so it isn't running down your drain!).

Here's how mine went down:
For the cinnamon scrub, I went small - 1 tablespoon of white sugar, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and I just shook in some cinnamon.
 Here's how the cinnamon scrub looked after I folded the ingredients together.
As you can see, I doubled up on this next one - I used 2 tablespoons of sugar, one golden brown and one dark brown (I have no idea why), 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, 1 teaspoon of natural/real honey, a little vanilla and some chopped craisins.
All done! Since they are just for me, I put them in little tupperware containers and into the fridge for keeping (the sugar would dissolve if it got too warm).
I think these would also make great stocking stuffers or hostess gifts if you picked up some cute little jars at the dollar store, tie a little twine around them with a cute label? Voila. So easy. Everyone's lips will thank you. I know I'll be making more for my girlfriends (if they are reading, they can pretend to be surprised).

Side note: Christmas bins are out and decorating has commenced!! I love this time of year!!!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner 2013 | Use What Ya Got, Baby

Warning: SUPER photo heavy post coming up :)

After Thanksgiving last year (when I cooked my first ever turkey), I though I could handle hosting dinner this year. I actually started picking things up here and there months ago (remember when I bought those globe lights?? This is why!). I had a vision in my head... and let me just remind you that our house is small. Like hosting dinner for 6 is snug. Oh, and the invite list for Thanksgiving dinner is 20 (and that was immediate family only). Mmhmmm. Don’t worry, there were many times that I also questioned my sanity. But I had an idea. And that idea was the GARAGE. Yup. We’ve hosted a few parties using our garage and have managed to make it work (like this one last year), so I thought we could make dinner work too. And we did!! Here’s how it turned out, my mom and my sister were good enough to snap some photos while we got dinner going. Unfortunately, some are over-exposed and the colours are whacky but you'll get the idea.
Don't mind all of the randomly spaced Guinness frames - the goal is to build that into a big gallery wall eventually, so it's more of a man-cave ;)

Things we did:

  • Used Ikea Smarkand king size sheets as curtains ($9.99 each), along with the ring things that we clipped to them. We ran tension cables (NOT Ikea’s cables) and strung the rings on. This hid all of our storage and shelving from view, and made it feel more intimate and warm (basically, a little less like a garage).
  • Swagged 3 strings of these globe string lights from Target across the garage, front to back.
  • Borrowed tables, chairs, rugs, cutlery
  • Rented glassware and linens (we had just enough place settings to use our own dishes)
  • Made a runner with Kraft paper that I stamped with gold acrylic craft paint to make polka dots. I cut one roll in half with an exacto knife and it was more than long enough.
  • I used 14 bud vases and lots of candles (mostly from Ikea, $0.99 vases and their mixed candle packets) for impact instead of arrangements (easier to see across the table and less expensive to fill). There are some mason jars with tea lights as well.
  • I found bags of kraft style gourds at Walmart ($4.97 for a bag of 10) – I misted them with a little gold spray paint and put them down the center of the tables along with some cut eucalyptus.

Obviously there was a lot more to it than this, and we easily prepped things for a week to get ready. We started buying materials back in February so it wasn't a massive hit to our finances all at once. There was LOTS of cleaning, reorganization, etc. The nice thing about most of our expenses is that it can all be re-used for future dinners/events. 

I order my flowers from a wholesaler (Westcoast Gardens for any locals) who kindly agreed to work with me, even though I'm not buying mass quantities on a consistent basis. I put the flowers together myself, so here is the breakdown of what I ordered:

  • Dusty Miller
  • Snowberries
  • Eucalyptus (3 varieties – seeded, silver dollar and guni I think)
  • Spider Mums
  • Mums
  • Hydrangea (white and green)
  • Kale
  • Some other gray berries, no idea what they are called... sorry.
  • Baby’s Breath
Ummm... yes, that rug desperately needs to be cleaned. Don't judge.
It was VERY overwhelming once I laid it all out to start putting them together!! I had to do some serious self talk to get started and convince myself that I could manage this. I started with the big arrangements and that kind of got me going... I started with foliage, then blooms and then berries as I went along. I used what was left for the bud vases. They are far from perfect but I think they turned out pretty good considering I’m no florist!!

Some more of my prep process...

We cooked the turkey, stuffing, cranberries and gravy like we did last year (find my recipes/process here), with the exception of adding turkey breasts that we brined and slow roasted on the BBQ (as opposed to a second turkey) to accomodate the bigger crowd. The BBQ’d turkey was a hit so we are considering skipping the bird altogether next year and just doing turkey breasts. It sure would be a lot easier.
Everyone brought a side dish or two with them to create this spread, which worked out perfectly. On the menu - buns, turkey, stuffing, vegetable casserole, mashed yams, mashed potatoes, brandied carrots, apple turnips, bacon brussel sprouts... it was a feast, for sure. We had lots of wine, and chocolate milk (a family tradition on my hub's side). So, what crazy things have you done to host a big dinner party? Now you know nothing is off-limits ;)
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