Thursday, 27 February 2014

Morning Chia Seed Smoothie

I’m a huge smoothie advocate. They’re nutritious, delicious and have helped me cut unnecessary carbs from my morning routine! Before I was a toast and coffee girl, now I get dairy, fruit and vegetables in my morning meal and I stay full until lunchtime! Although juicing is all the rage right now blending (in my opinion) actually provides more nutrients and sustenance because of all the things you can add to a smoothie. Today I’m going to share my morning smoothie recipe with you. The great thing about smoothies is there is no right and wrong; you can add or subtract anything from my recipe to make it your own. I make mine in a magic bullet but any blender will do just remember not to fill it too full or it will get bogged down. 

My standard ingredients for smoothie making are: yogurt, fruit, greens and a healthy fat. Any combination of these will work! If you want to add a sweetener I would recommend adding honey however I find this smoothie sweet enough as is!

  • 0% non-fat certified organic plain yogurt
  • frozen organic whole strawberries
  • 1 large organic banana
  • a handful of organic blueberries
  • a handful or organic spinach (or kale)
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds (or ground flax)

       I recommend consuming organic produce. If you’re not an organic eater I would at least invest in organic frozen fruit because strawberries are sprayed heavily and I doubt conventionally grown berries are washed before they are bagged and frozen. 

I love to add green to my smoothies. Dark leafy greens are an essential part of a healthy diet and can be hard to incorporate. Spinach is a source of iron, antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, zinc, selenium and manganese), Vitamin K for bone health,  also has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents (Worlds Healthiest Foods). Spinach has recently been somewhat de-throned by the popularity of kale. Kale is a "super food" high in fibre with zero fat and low in calories. Kale is also high in vitamin K, antioxidants, omega-3, vitamin A, C & calcium (Mind Body Green). Either one is great; I like to alternate between the two. Unlike spinach, kale has a strong texture that can overwhelm the smoothie. Buy young kale with small leaves for a more tender leaf and mild taste. Again, I recommend buying organic spinach and kale because they are both the Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen” (EWG) list of fruits and vegetables that are the most contaminated by pesticides. 
I just started incorporating chia seeds into diet by adding them to my smoothies. I kept hearing about these magical little seeds and finally decided to try them out. They are small, tasteless and the health benefits are plentiful! Two tablespoons of chia seeds provide your Omega-3 requirements for the day! Used by the Aztecs and Mayans, chia seeds are an important source of protein, fibre, amino acids, calcium and more! I bought the Prana brand this time and their website has some great information: Always buy high quality, certified organic seeds and do your research before consuming them to make sure you’re well informed (as you should with everything you consume). Risks include allergies and the possibility of becoming addicted to the seeds! Ground flax is always a great alternative to chia seeds.

 I hope you enjoy your smoothie and tweet or comment any suggestions or recipes you like!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Weekend Update

I haven't accomplished much on the home or wedding front because I've been down and out with a nasty bug for a week. Yesterday was okay and today has been good so far so I've got my fingers crossed! There's nothing worse than being home but not being able to do anything.... I watched a ridiculous amount of Netflix in bed. I was on a Julia Roberts kick for a while and also loved Rashida Jones & Andy Samburg in Jesse and Celeste Forever.

On Saturday there was a winter sale at my favourite salvaged goods vendor so I did manage to get out of bed and get some awesome finds. I've got a couple crappy iphone pictures to show you "sneak peak" style and I'll do a proper post once we've installed some of it. Our focus was wedding inspiration and bathroom decor. The haul included:

  • a green frame with amazing patina may have been part of a screen window at one point
  • a "basket" off of an old singer sewing machine (that was a whopping $4) - my plan is to use it as a magazine rack or towel holder in the new bathroom!
  • an amazing old door for the cupboard in the new bathroom
  • a glass doorknob for the door. I love it because its a "petite" knob and suits the door perfectly
  • 19th century hinges for the door
  • an "art deco" style light fixture for above the sink that we will put an edison bulb in
  • an old interior shutter that will be for the wedding but will go in the house for now as decor
  • three old door handles to make signs for the wedding (DIY to come)
My New Cupboard Door

To be installed....

Glass Knob

19th Cen. Hinges
Other bathroom progess included B finishing laying down the floor and the completion of our counter top (custom made of knotty pine). Can't wait to get it installed and the pine trim on.

In other home related news Harley and her puppy friend knocked over my stone bird bath and broke the top off of it. It may have been frozen/about to break because of the extremely cold weather we've had but nonetheless it's still broken. Now I need something else to put in my front spring bed as I've kind of planted around the bird bath as a"centre piece" for the garden. I'm still wondering about the question I posed on Twitter: is garden art tacky or trendy? What do you think? I could replace it with another bird bath... I do love the handmade painted ones. Hmmmm.... Let me know your thoughts!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Succulent Love

We've been trying to decide on a favour for the wedding for a while now. I wanted something that wasn't "junk", that people could make use out of and that represented us and the theme of our wedding. B's mom suggested something she saw on Pinterest: succulents in teacups. How whimsical! Succulents are already going to be part of the wedding, featured on the boy's boutonnieres with seeded eucalyptus and a silver leaf so I thought it would be fitting to have them as giveaways too! I love the idea of giving something alive and baby trees & seed packets are super trendy right now with the (cute) slogan "Let Love Grow".

A couple examples from Pinterest:


Eco-Friendly Favours
Source: Etsy's RedCloudBoutique
Go Green
Source: HautNot Blog
Source: Pinterest

I decided that we have to go with the succulents. The idea is eco-friendly, recycled, thrifty & vintage; everything I want to encapsulate in the wedding. We went and looked for teacups this weekend - the thrift store variety range from $1-5 and flea markets and antique stores want $4-5 (and up). As soon as vendors heard we were looking for teacups they started calling out to us but not many wanted to go below $4. I decided to do a "test run" to see how the succulents fair in teacups. I'd hate to invest all that time and money planting the succulents in an environment that can't sustain the plants. I don't want the favours to suffer the same fate as the poor succs I planted in the three terrariums I made last year (they shrivelled up, poor guys). I have a bit of a green thumb and Pinterest told me succulents are hardy so I was shocked to see mine die so quickly and easily!

In reality, succulents are hardy. They are highly adaptable, water-storing, versatile plants that are well suited to being grown indoors and out. I did a little research and found out a lot of conflicting information but overall they seem to be pretty easy to care for:

Light tells me that succulents like light, especially Southern light (may have to switch mine as they are in a North facing window) however Succulents & Sunshine says in it's guide that South facing windows can be too harsh and can give succulents a sunburn. Succulents & Sunshine  advises 6 hours of sunlight per day. To avoid bleaching or sunburning the leaves try indirect sunlight.

Water  says that succulents like to be watered in the spring and summer but that the soil should dry out between waterings. The website suggests watering every other month in the winter. The tags that came with my succulents said not to let soil dry between waterings. Succulents & Sunshine  also advises to water less in the winter when plants are dormant but suggests every two weeks letting the soil dry out. The overall consensus seems to be not to overwater.

Potting Soil
Cactus/succulent potting mix should be used. I have no clue what mine are in I just re-used what they came in.

The Pot
Despite the all the terrarium "rage" right now Succulents & Sunshine  says: "succulents do not like to be sitting in soggy soil so a glass jar (or terrarium) is not going to make your succulent happy." Other sources told me that succs don't need a ton of drainage so I didn't even bother with putting rocks in the base of my teacups. This may need to be amended for the favours. They recommend using a terracotta pot that breathes and while that won't cut it for the favours would be best for personal use!

Take a look at what I came up with! These teacups were $1 each and aren't fine china like some of the others I found and saved for the wedding but I still think they are quite cute. I simply transplanted them from the plastic pot they came in to the teacups. Voila. 

Where the teacups live in my house… above the sink!

In other wedding news I am on the hunt for reasonably priced milk glass vases. I found these two for $25. I'd like to get them for less but they're so damn trendy. The seller said he'd already had someone come in and clean him out of all he had. (PS don't mind the dirty bookshelf I just brought it in from the garage and it needs a serious wipe down! That's next on my to-do list.)

I've also been on the lookout for bookends. I found these ones for $4! Every horse head bookend I find has its ears back… maybe for structural reasons? I hate it that they are angry ponies. These were the best I could find… I'll think of them as "listening ears" instead.

Let me know what you think of the succulents! Have you received a wedding favour that you particularly loved? I'd love to hear it! Comment or tweet me @creatvlycountry !

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Bathroom Organization and Storage

As you may know from previous posts, I’m getting a new bathroom. It’s been a slow project that’s been on the back burner for a long time as B works away at it whenever he has time. We have a fully functional, albeit quite undesirable (see photo below), bathroom that we are currently using. We're lucky that we can continue to use the old bathroom (which will be the laundry room in its next life) while we renovate the new bathroom. So far in the new space the walls are painted, the shower is tiled, the shower head & faucet are installed and the vanity is in progress. Next steps include installing the toilet, sink and faucet and making a decision on flooring (we are seriously waffling). We’re getting there though!

Current Bathroom: So... 50s?

Today I’m going to share with you some of my bathroom organization and storage brainstorming. Thank God for Pinterest! I must admit I have a history of and a penchant for organized bathrooms. In University I lived with two roommates (who are now my best friends). We had a super cute townhouse with a pretty basic but nicely styled bathroom. The bathroom had light beige walls (like the rest of the house) a cute Paris inspired shower curtain and black accent pieces from Home Outfitters. Under the sink we had limited storage so we had four black wicker baskets from JYSK with cute floral lining: one each for cosmetics/bathroom supplies and one that neatly stored toilet paper. In behind the baskets were our cleaning supplies. It was efficient, practical and worked perfectly for us; there was never a mess on the counter and nothing was ever out of place. Let me tell you, we kept it sparkling clean (oh how I miss living with female roommates!). 

While our new bathroom is massive in comparison to our current bathroom it’s actually not all that big. Amazingly, it was a bedroom (see photo below)! There won’t be a lot of room for extra “stuff” in there and there’s actually not a lot of wall space. It's an upgrade but could easily become cluttered and disorganized. I’ll need to use my organizing skills to make sure it’s as fully functional as possible from the get-go!

New Bathroom: The Before
Without further ado, here are some ideas I've collected from the internet for organization and storage!

A brightly coloured vintage accent piece:

Source: Pinterest
Source: Shelterness

Source: Shelterness
I think these vintage accent pieces add so much character to the room. They make unsightly things like toilet paper look more visually appealing, too. If I had tons of room I'd love to re-do a sideboard like one of my friends did in her bathroom. It gives you space on top and inside. In our bathroom we'd have to find a reasonably sized piece with enough storage to make the use of floorspace worthwhile. 

Display bathroom essentials in a unique container:

Antique tin with antique containers inside
Source: Shelterness

Vintage drawers
Source: Top Inspired
A tiered system for makeup
Source: Top Inspired
Find a cool vintage tray
Source: Pinterest
Using unique containers, especially if they're vintage, is a great way to display the nice pieces you have! If you're going to have a couple things out on the counter make sure they're the most visually appealing items you have. No one wants to see your vaseline.

Baskets, baskets & more baskets: 

Industrial wire baskets are on trend
Source: Decorology
Shelving + baskets are a great combination
Source: Better Homes and Gardens

A hamper is so handy in the bathroom
Source: Flickr
Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Baskets, as I've already said, come in SO handy in the bathroom. Whether they're wicker, bamboo, assorted, industrial wire baskets (so trendy) or a giant hamper they all serve great purposes! Baskets allow you to comparmentalize your bathroom and perhaps hide some items you'd rather not have on display.

Reduce, reuse & recycle:

Re-use your candle jars
Source: Pinterest
Glass jars can be bought at the dollar store
Source: The Fashionably Broke
Mason jars are trendy and eco-friendly
Source: Pinterest
There are so many ways to use pre-loved, eco-friendly containers in your bathroom. Re-using jars is just a start! You can use kitchen items like cutlery trays or tins or even beautiful antiques you don't use like a sugar bowl to house your cotton balls.

Glass jars in different shapes and sizes:

These are a little practical for my taste
Source: Pinterest
Various sizes and shapes look pretty
Source: CEO Studio Solutions
These can be found at Home Sense
Source:Better Homes and Gardens
If you want that "wow" factor you might have to buy some glass jars. Apothecary jars are in and can be found vintage/antique or bought at Homesense. Either way, they're beautiful and practical for bathroom storage.

A shelf over the sink: 

Sink glasses into a rustic piece of wood
Source: Better Homes and Gardens
Re-use a CD tray
Source: Pinterest
The CD rack image has been floating around Pinterest forever. I'm not even convinced it is a CD rack but I do love the idea over the sink!

And if you can combine everything into one amazing storage system!

Source: Cathy Home Style/320 Sycamore
These practical IKEA floating shelves have wicker baskets, a vintage mirror, industrial wire baskets AND glass jars! Combine it all with nicely rolled towels and you have a whole new outlook on bathroom storage and organizaion. Thanks for reading through and comment/tweet me your bathroom organizing ideas!

Monday, 3 February 2014

A Warm Weekend = Visions of Spring

We finally had a "warm" weekend! To most people it would be a regular winter weekend but after the wild weather we’ve had for the past two months it was wonderful to have a day of milder temperatures! On Sunday I went to the barn in the morning for a dressage lesson. Unfortunately, the snow was falling off the arena roof creating a ride filled with spooks and bolting…  it seems like it’s either TOO cold to ride or its warm enough but you have to endure an hour filled with the cracks and booms of falling snow. Either way, it was nice to be with the horses and not freezing my bum off for once! I actually hung around and cleaned tack and chatted with a couple of the girls afterword.

I stopped at the tack store on the way home and picked up chicken feed and fresh bedding for the girls. B spent the afternoon snow blowing while I cleaned the coop. I clean their waterer on a regular basis but it was nice to be able to stay outside longer comfortably to do a thorough cleansing with vinegar. I put down three bags of fresh bedding and they loved it! They also had a nice snack of spinach while I was working away. I opened the door for them to spend some time outside but after checking it out they decided to stay inside.The snow is almost to the top of the fence in their coop but there is a sheltered area where they could have hung out if they had wanted to.

We spent some time in Lowes on the weekend and I noticed that all of the SPRING stuff is starting to fill the aisles! Seeds, planters, hoses and sprinklers were all out on display. Maybe they’re always out and I was just noticing them because of the warm weather but either way I started to get excited!

Having just moved into our house last year we didn’t have a lot of time or resources to go crazy landscaping. I wanted to spend our first summer observing what came up before making any big changes. It turns out we have an amazing array of perennials from irises to peonies but unfortunately the beds are totally overgrown and out of control to the point where you don’t even notice what's there because there is so much interspersed with grass and weeds. I did several days of weeding to no avail and ending up feeling overwhelmed by my lack of gardening knowledge and disappointed. I pride myself in having a green thumb with my indoor plants but taking on these huge gardens was over my head. This year we’re cutting back on the beds and going with the mantra quality over quantity. Last year we spent our budget on the basics; we re-built our second floor deck, bought a barbecue and patio furniture so that we could spend time outside. The whole decor aspect of the outdoor space took a backseat to functionality. I had visions of making cool pallet furniture and succulent planters but my plans went to the wayside after I realized how much basic (aka boring) stuff needed to be done first. I bought a couple hanging planters, a ton of geraniums (my favourite outdoor plant!), grew some mini potted roses and (in the fall) planted a ridiculous amount of fall bulbs in our front tulip bed to enjoy this spring. I also planted hyacinths in pots which I saw (and loved) on Pinterest. I am hoping that they will bloom for me!

My inspiration for hyacinths planters!
Source: Better Homes & Gardens

Pretty tulips mixed in
Source: Pinterest

Daffs look great too!
Source: Better Homes & Gardens

Source: Braebourne Farm

 So, yes I am a little early with my springtime excitement. Yes, the groundhog said six more weeks of winter. And yes, it was snowing on my drive this morning. But, I blame Lowes for having all those seeds out! I think in these last couple months of winter I will take the time to think about what I will do this year and read and educate myself a little so I’m more prepared. 

Does anyone know anything about growing bulbs indoors? I love the look of the bulbs in glass and they constantly pop up on my Pinterest feed: 

Paperwhite Bulbs
Source: Gardening World

Tulip Bulbs
Source: Sand and Sisal
Well I will leave you with my visions of spring. Comment or tweet me with your thoughts & gardening advice :)