Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Valentine Cheddar & Chive Crackers

Kidlets LOVE anything that has a shape to it. It could be brussel sprouts! Made into a shape and plated fun and interestingly, it has a better chance of going down the tube. Kidlets need to taste different kinds of food often, before they come around to liking it. Of course, this doesn't mean they will like everything, but you have a better chance this way, which brings me to this post.

My family and I started eating clean about a year ago. What is clean eating? Find out here. It took some time for our palettes to change and get used to eating things in their natural form and not chalked full of sugar, additives and preservatives. It also took some time for our bodies to get used to not having such high levels of sugar in our diet. We ate very healthfully before going clean, but once you start really looking at your labels, you'd be surprise at how much food has sugar added to it, food you think is very healthy for you. After the initial withdrawal, the process went fairly well, but not all new foods were welcomed with open crackers.

At first we were experimenting with new clean crackers using jams, goat cheese with cinnamon and honey, some butter or nut butters, but this got old quickly. My kidlets wanted good ol' cheese and crackers, just like every other kid, and they weren't settling for a clean cracker. After awhile, the new clean crackers would come home in their lunch pails completely untouched. Food and money was just going down the drain.

After becoming 100% clean eaters for a good 6 months, we loosened the chains a little, and came to a family decision to include different kinds of cheeses and a few other things, like full-fat yogurts, into our diet. Typically, most cheeses are not considered clean because of their high fat content.

I needed to figure out a way to get clean crackers IN the belly and not have my kidlets miss out on a childhood staple. I started to research crackers and found out that they are actually really easy to make and fun when you bring your little sous chefs in the kitchen with you!

Those are not the crackers she's mushing, this pic is from the muffins we made ;)
Make some of these kidlet approved crackers for your little ones, in any shape you fancy. Although they are not considered 'clean', they are fresh, homemade and healthy. What more could you want?

Valentine Cheddar & Chive Crackers

1 cup of shredded Old Cheddar Cheese
4 tablespoons of cold butter, cubed
1 cup of whole wheat flour (plus more for dusting while rolling)
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
2 tablespoons of cold water

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Add cheese, butter, flour, chives and salt to a food processor.
3. Blend until your ingredients becoming all grainy
4. 1 tablespoon at a time, add cold water to processor. Blend until dough comes together in a ball.
5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 30 mins.
6. Remove dough and roll out to an 1/8 inch thickness.
7. Cut your shapes out of the dough with cookie cutters or cut into 1 inch squares.
8. Place dough on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
9. Bake for 15 mins.
10. Enjoy!
11. Allow to cool completely and store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

May be Linked at the following FABULOUS Parties!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Kitchen Cupboard Organization

Happy New Year Everyone! January is a great time to get out with the old and in with the new...newly organized kitchen cabinets that is. 

I am a VERY organized person by nature. If you gave me a space that was solely my own, it would be prim and proper and organized to perfection. The thing is, there are no such spaces like that in a lived in home with a husband and two children, all while running a full-time daycare with seven kidlets each and every day. Although things start in an organized fashion, life happens and then you end up with cabinets full of things you've just stashed away and then BOOM! a big unorganized mess ensues. 

I like to deal with this mess by completely reorganizing spaces approximately bi-yearly to suit your needs. When I organize I like to pull absolutely EVERYTHING out of a cabinet (or whichever space you are working on) and work with a clean slate. I'm going to show you my reorganization from one side of my kitchen to the other. 

Before you pull anything out of your cabinets, get yourself and pen and paper and make a rough draft of your kitchen cabinets. After you have them on your paper you need to decide what shelves you want to contain what. This is a huge help when you are piled high with STUFF and forget what you wanted to put where. No need to strees, just consult your plan. I like to check off which cabinet I've done as I go along, makes me feel like I've accomplished something. Go ahead try it, it's fun! Well...that's if organizing floats your boat and it sure does over here ;) Once you have your plan you can at this point figure out if there are any organization tools you need to purchase to aide in organization. I knew I needed some bins and that I wanted my oils to go on a Lazy Susan. I purchased those and I was ready to go.

Now start with your first cabinet and empty that sucker out. Remember, before you fill your cabinet back up to give it a good wipe down. My first cabinet is full of plastic containers and this is also where we store our medications and things we use on a daily bases. Things pile and pile and spread and spread.

Once I had completely cleared out the cabinet, I consulted my plan and started putting stuff back in. I needed a high cabinet for all our medicines and poisonous things, to be clear out of reach from little hands. I also wanted to use baskets to help contain our regularly used vitamins and medicines. I removed a large portion of the plastic containers and just have the ones I use daily for the kids lunches here. This cabinet holds all the things we use daily and many many times during the day.

Below this cabinet, I forgot to take a before picture, but it contained our large mixing bowls and small electric appliances. Now the cabinet contains more of the daily items we use, all in one part of the kitchen. This is the after photo.

The next few upper cabinets from my plan are our cups, plates and bowls. I did not organize them as they were in good shape and I didn't need or want to move anything around in them. 

My next cabinet was a catch all for lots of things. Toaster, lunch pails, party trays and things we rarely use. I forgot to take a before pic of cabinet, but just imagine all this stuff packed in ;)

I decided I wanted to have all my small appliances in one place as they were slightly spread out before. I also put our plastics that we use less often in this cabinet. Still accessible but in a less desirable place of the kitchen.

Next up was our spice and oil cabinet. I found this cabinet was getting too small for my spices and oils so I moved them elsewhere.

I wanted this cabinet instead to house our cereals and snacks. We are clean eaters and don't really have a lot of dried goods to store in cabinets so the smaller space was all I needed.

Next cabinet was above the stove. This area had become a place to really just stuff things I wanted put up and out of my way. It was a MESS!

 I decided above the stove was a great place to put my cookbooks!

Next cabinet did house our snacks but had grown full of junk from Christmas Holidays and needed a good clean out. As mentioned before, we are a clean eating family but not at Christmas time. We indulge in the season, host parties and put on the 'Holiday 5lbs' with pride and enjoyment!! But it's back to reality and some of these things need to go. 

As mentioned previously, I needed a larger cabinet for my spices and oils. Now they are all together on their own shelves and ready for dinner making. This is also where I used my Lazy Susan I purchased. Now all my regularly used oils can spin around for easy access.

Next was the cabinet above the fridge. This was a catch all space as well, ugh! I also forgot to take a before picture of this, I was just too excited to be organizing I guess ;) Anyways, this was the mess that was above the fridge. 

And this is what it looks like now. Looking at this picture, I have noticed my crock pot needs a good exterior scrub. Ah well, another day.

Last stop on the organization train is the pantry. The organization that once was, was just falling apart. Needed a good clean through and purge of some of the junk foods. 

When my family and I started clean eating, almost 1 year ago, we went 100% all in, no junk ANYWHERE! We lost over 100lbs collectively in the process, but during the journey we also realized that reality still needed a place as well. We like to entertain dinner guests and I love to bake and make goodies for people, but I also understand they may not enjoy the clean foods our family loves. So over the past year of learning we had got rid of anything unclean just to turn around and introduce some products back into our home in the hopes that our guests WANT to come back for dinner :) 

This is what our pantry looked like before, a mish mash of overflow.

And the after. Everything has a home, including some of our unclean products. Here are some more of the bins I purchased. Your organization does not need to be expensive, the dollar store is your best friend when it comes to organizing. 

That's it! My kitchen reorganization is complete...for now. And it will likely be a hot mess in another 6 months but that's ok, I'll just roll my sleeves up and get back in there. The older I get (not that I'm old by any means) I am coming to the realization and a comfort that my home doesn't need to be perfect on the inside all the time. This is a slow process but I'm getting there, day by day. This doesn't mean that if you showed up to my door unannounced, I wouldn't still have an internal panic attack from the imperfect state of my home, but I am getting better. My mother is able to come by unannounced and I don't die a thousands death like I would have 5 years ago. My best friend has seen the likes of the kidlets bathroom, toothpaste spit marks and all. I didn't die from this event. I am learning to let go of those strings a lot, in the effort to have happy and healthy kidlets that don't feel that they can't LIVE in their own home or that their mother was always too busy cleaning instead of playing with them. You really will just have to mind the mess, since we ARE busy making memories. This home is LIVED in, it gets messy and we clean it up :) 

Thanks for stopping by and happy organizing!!

  May be Linked at the following FABULOUS Parties!

Friday, 3 January 2014

'Please Remove Shoes' - Vintage Sign & Tutorial

 As some of  you may already know, I run a daycare but I also run a clean home. For either reason, it's kidlet centered and if my kidlets are living on the floor, it should be a clean down there. For that reason, I hang a sign right at my front door letting all that enter know,  your shoes need to be removed if you would like to venture past the front mat.

This is a typical practice around here anyways. I was raised learning that you removed your shoes when entering ANYONE'S home, even if they said 'Oh don't worry', unless of course it's a safety issue and then we likely won't want to go past the front door anyways ;)

It drives me INSANE watching television and people walk around their homes in shoes and then go as far as jumping in BED with them on! YUCK!! Yeah, yeah, I know, it's not real, it's a set, it's not really their home but could we at least have these characters remove their shoes when in bed. Clearly this is a sitcom I must be watching because if I was watching any kind of steamy bedroom scene and they had shoes on, that would just be silly. (Laughing at this scenario in my head, go ahead, take a minute, envision ONLY shoes! Lol!!!)

Okay, back to this sign business. Here it is from a distance, see it there beside the door.

 Things you will need to make this cute little sign are:

-a wooden block of any shape, I chose rectangular
-white acrylic paint
-paint brush
-distressing ink, I used Tim Holtz's Distress Ink in Black Soot & Tea Dye
-a printed scrapbook paper page, I used a black and cream toile print
-a linen texture scrapbook page, I stuck with the cream colour
-sand paper
-Mod Podge 

First, take your wooden block and paint the entire surface with white paint and let it dry.

Next comes a little creativity! First you need to download a few graphics for your frame and your shoe picture. I LOVE LOVE LOVE The Graphics Fairy and used one of her frames and vintage shoe graphics. She has tons to choose from so search away!

Next you need to layer your graphics. You can do this in Photoshop if you know how to, but it's super simple in Word as well. 

To create in Word you need to copy and paste your frame to a blank document. Double click on photo and then select the 'wrap text' button on the upper right hand side. From the pull-down menu select the 'Behind text' option. Next lay your shoe graphic by copying & pasting the same way but this time in the drop down menu you want to choose 'In front of text'. Next create a text box and if you like the little poem I have on mine it says:

Since little fingers
touch our floors,
please remove shoes,
once through the door.

Once you have your graphic assembled, print it out on your linen scrapbook paper. If it doesn't fit in your printer just trim the edges to fit. It is important to print on a textured paper if you want to get a faded antique finish. Cut out your graphic and then use your finger to scratch off and blend the letters of your poem. I liked this effect but it is not necessary if you like it sharp.

Next tear a rough size and shape of your wood board from your printed scrapbook paper and Mod Podge the back only to your board. Next lay your linen graphic page over that and Mod Podge the back only on top. I used a cosmetic sponge to push down the edges and make sure they were nice and glued down. Then it will look like this.

After that you want to take your tea coloured ink and stamp it around the edges of the board and rub it onto some of the exposed tears from your printed scrapbook paper. We are going for an antique look here. You can also wet a sponge brush or a q-tip slightly to help move some of the ink around. Don't put ink everywhere, leave some white peaking through. Then let the ink dry.

Next you need to sand off portions of your sign to give it an aged look. As you did the tea coloured ink, you are going to go in with your black. Just gently kiss the edges with the ink and rub it into some of the sanded sections. Leave your ink to dry again and once dried you can go ahead and finish your sign with some Mod Podge. My sign is hung outside but is under a covered roof. If your sign will be in direct contact with the elements you may want to add a varnish to your piece instead of Mod Podge.

You can use this technique to do lots of signs. I made this one for my Father-In-Law for Christmas one year. I had seen this version on ebay but wanted to make it more personal. Instead of using a textured paper this time, I Googled textured scrapbook paper and you'll see tons of any type of texture. This sign I did in Photoshop however, but can be done with the same layering techniques as above in Word. For this sign I added some wire to hang it with, fitting for a workshop.

Play around with different ideas and layering and have fun! As always, thanks for stopping by :D

  May be Linked at the following FABULOUS Parties!