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My best friends are staying with us this weekend and we’re planning on hitting up the theme park as well as a local festival.

In preparation, aside from the mega construction / concrete dust clean up & sleeping accommodation set up…I decided to make treats. The usual brownies & rice krispie treats no less!

But because of our busy schedule, there will be no time for our a sit down type family meal so I thought these would be best. Who doesn’t love quick and easy?

Peanut butter rice krispie treats & brownies (just regular, no surprise)

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Have a great Canada Day long weekend everyone!

What is it about DIY / home renovations that sets everyone’s heart a flutter? I mean seriously, its a huge romantic idea that everyone loves thinking about, planning, picking out decor items etc.  But when the time comes down to roll up your sleeves and get cracking, people drag their behinds?  Myself included.

Example: Our living room reno.

We have an old wood burning stove. It came with the house and we’ve never used it once.  Hubby and I decided to remove it since it was awkwardly placed in our living room. You either had to make it the focus of your space OR hide it.  We’ve done both.  Now we’ve decided to remove it and not have to choose how we centre and focus our living space.  By removing it, we’ve also free’ed up a TON of space.

We’ve been day dreaming of what we could do with the space once the stove has been removed.  Now, back down into reality, we’re loving going through the demo process – who doesn’t like smashing walls, tearing down wall panels etc?  But now, we’re hating the lugging out the demo’ed materials, cleaning up and my personal fave, concrete dust.  Have I shared with you my love of concrete dust?  UGH!  I am tired of living in a permanent cloud of dust/concrete dust.

But this is this is part of  the price we pay for falling into that romantic notion of a DIY / home reno.  Damn you HGTV and all your shows!

Update on our progress: Over the past week or two we’ve managed to lug out the cast iron wooden stove – must’ve weighed about 800 lb’s (give or take 100lbs) and torn down the flagstone/brick wall, pedestal base it rested upon and floor around it.  Lugged it all outside into a ‘Bagster’ (Dumpster bag made out of heavy duty tarp sold by Waste Management – sold at Home Depot $40 – this is the next greatest thing to renting a huge metal bin! Fill it up and call them to haul it away when ready.  We do have to pay a disposal fee but its less then $200.  How much more easy can it get?!)

As a result of the stove being removed, we peeked behind some of the wood paneling and shuddered.  Now the walls, insulation and ceiling tiles have come down in half of our living room.  We’ve found hidden junction boxes – nice huh? And we’ve fixed some minor electrical issues.

Since the room is basically ‘open’ – we’ve planned on changing up the room in a few new ways…see what I mean about day dreaming, fantasizing about home reno’s – its all romantic til you have to do it LOL.

After yesterday’s “Basket Case?” post, I thought I would share my unconventional ‘fruit bowl’.  What we were using before was a glass/crystal type bowl.  I thought it would’ve worked out great because it was clear so we could see if there was anything inside.  Oh, it was free too.  Its similar to the one in the picture. Not quite as cute but similar.

Seashell

Seashell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As time went on,  we slowly learned that the smaller fruits were falling below and getting trapped.  Hidden.  Squished. Rotting.  Most of the time they were beyond salvaging which in turn equals waste.  Something we don’t like to do in this house.

Waste = money lost.  Waste = totally unfrugal.  Waste = unwanted.

While I was out browsing HOMESENSE (seems that I really like this store or something huh?) THIS lil beauty jumped out at me.

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What it is, is a tiered cake stand.

What I saw was a way to beautifully display our fruit.  Each tier allowed air to circulate equally, freely so nothing would start to spoil.  We’d be able to see what was ripe and ready to be eaten (also a great reminder to eat fruit!) AND it guaranteed that nothing would ever get squished.  No squish also equals no gross, slimy mess to clean up.

Since buying this – yes I admit that I paid full retail price of $13.99 plus taxes – we have not wasted any fruit.

Nothing rotting = nothing needing to be thrown out = no loss.

Think of the cost of the fruit I’ve had to throw out.  This puppy has paid for itself numerous times already.  Its a win-win situation if you ask me and I’m danged proud of that!!

Plus it really *is* pretty to look at on our counter each time we’re in the kitchen.

While out and about running errands, I happened to see these lil treasures sitting there on the clearance rack calling out my name at HOMESENSE.   Right next to them were the exact same baskets NOT on clearance. Everything was the exact same so I took the bargain priced baskets.

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I am not sure where I’ll use these in our home but I have visions of organized bliss dancing through my head.   I could use them out in the open so they could be decor as well as functional vs hiding them in a cupboard and being functional.  Decisions, decisions!!

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The reason I bought three baskets (vs two) was due to the price.  The savings from buying two baskets equaled the price of a third basket had I paid full retail.  And for some reason, things grouped in three’s seem to be more appealing to the eye.

Suggestions anyone? 🙂

Hubby is currently doing some home reno work in our basement. As a result, everything has a fine layer of dust over it. Concrete dust to be specific. 😦 [jf youve ever experienced concrete dust you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about] We also forgot to put up a plastic tarp to cordon off the work area from the rest of our current living area. We also had invited a friend to come and visit/help.

So while trying to play hostess and still be a construction sidekick/assistant all while keeping an eye on dad in the super humid weather I felt frazzled as usual being pulled in too many directions at once.

I found comfort in the kitchen. Keeping busy cooking & creating somehow seems to calm me down. Odd I know. Or it could be due to the fact that everyone vacates the kitchen while you’re cooking to either get of your way (not really) OR out of fear that they’ll be out to work by being asked to chop, prep, clean or wash dishes. LOL Either way, I enjoyed the QT with myself.

What I made was another pitcher of homemade iced green tea (something I’ve been addicted to since the warm weather started back in March), prepped dinner so all we had to do was grill it and eat then baked dessert – round two of the brownie surprise!

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Brownies in the muffin tins ready to go into the oven. Top tray is the exact same as the bottom tray except I topped the ‘surprise’ with 1 extra spoon of batter.

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Here’s how they looked once baked. You can totally see the difference between the two styles.

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I think I prefer the covered style to add more dramatic effect. I had severed one to our friend after dinner and nuked it for about 15 seconds (since they were still warm) He loved the fact that there was a PB cup hidden in the centre.

His exact words: “You didn’t tell me there was PB in the middle!” – he LOVED them, so I sent him home with two more. Another satisfied customer.

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I love grilled veggies and the grilling tray that I had bought on clearance from the drug store a couple years ago has seen better years. Its supposed to be non stick etc but really…it was time to be replaced. I decided on a stainless steel “wok style” for the grill. Things will cook evenly now without burning. Things won’t fall off the tray and head below the grill grates. And the bonus – it was a snap to clean afterwards! Barely required scraping.

To sum up my crazy Sunday: there was great progress in work (the reno project), great company (friend visiting) all accompanied by great food! Thats how one should round up their weekend.

How was yours?

In addition to baking and taking the Gluten Free Pumpkin bundt cake to the Father’s Day BBQ yesterday, I also tried my hand at making a watermelon salad. I had heard about them over the past few summers but had never actually gotten to taste one.

I took the liberties of making it “my own” after seeing several similar recipes in magazines and on the internet. I took what I thought were the base ingredients and winged it from there.

I will admit to being thoroughly grossed out at the thought of the ingredients together even though I’m a fan of mixing sweet and savory (hello, kettle corn anyone?). Honestly, I just think it was the whole idea of mixing them with watermelon.

Having tried my own version of it, I must say that I was flabbergasted at what I had put in my mouth.  I really did enjoy it and would definitely make it again. The fresh mint really kicks up the refreshment factor with the cold watermelon.

Hubby had proclaimed that he wasn’t even going to taste it. After I put a bit on his plate to try, he actually scooped himself a portion when he thought I wasn’t looking. Sshhhh! 😉

Yes, it was that good!!

Ingredients: cubed watermelon, diced bell pepper (your choice of red/orange/yellow), slivered red onion (or any sweet onion), handful of julienned mint, olive oil, lime juice and salt & pepper to taste.

Directions: Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and let sit for approx 15 mins and toss again before serving.

FYI There will be a lil bit of juice at the bottom of the bowl.

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My family decided to gather to celebrate Father’s Day a day early in case the festivities ran later into the evening as planned. My sister hosted a BBQ to also celebrate everyone’s birthday as well.

Seeing that I like to bake & let my “inner domestic goddess” out once in a while, I tried to find a dessert that would be worthy. My sister is currently on a gluten free/lactose free diet so I hunted the interwebz for a suitable dessert. Everything I came across called for all those specialty ingredients necessary for gluten free baking.

Then I ran across this recipe for a Gluten Free Pumpkin Applesauce Bundt Cake.  I mean, who doesnt love a bundt cake?! The shape in itself speaks volumes especially since it seems that the bundt has long since been forgotten.

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This is how I started…

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…which then turned into this yummy goodness…

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…which then turned out like this for the final product.   My entire family “Ooooh’ed” and “Aaahhh’ed” when I placed this on the table and told them what it was.  I had only baked with rice flour once before and it was a flop.  I was not feeling the most confident.  My sister was delighted that it was gluten free so that she’d get to eat dessert as well.  That made me happy.

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Actually, THIS made me most happy.  Everyone decided to try the cake vs the store bought apple turnovers she had bought for dessert.  Success!! I can’t wait to try this recipe again with a few suggested tweaks even though everyone said they liked it how it was made tonight.

Talk about me being one happy girl! 🙂

Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there!

Felt like whipping up a batch of these treats after grocery shopping this morning.

Translation: I saw the box of individually wrapped brand name version and since then, I really wanted them LOL

I bought the ingredients to make my own batch at home for fractions of the cost. (How’s that for having my cake & eating it too? IE getting the treats AND frugally) Then I got a lil creative and wanted to kick up the fun factor another notch – because these treats weren’t already fun enough to begin with right?

They turned out just as tasty as I remembered. Somehow, sprinkles always seems to make things tastier and more fun. At least in my world 😉

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What is it about this store that makes everyone go  “Oooh!” ?  I mean this one store practically sells everything under the sun needed for your home AND they even have an affordable cafeteria style bistro for your dining pleasure which offers hot meals which consists of their famous meatballs with lingonberry sauce to grilled fish and pasta dishes etc.  If you’re too much in a rush for a delicious and quick sit down meal, they even have a canteen just across from the check out to tempt/entice you which conveniently sells hot dogs, frozen yoghurt, drinks and their ever so famous – cinnamon buns! Mmmm…..Ok, so back to reality here.

I still haven’t figured out what the allure of this store is. Even I will admit, pulling up to the store gets me excited.  Walking through their beautifully arranged (and cleverly marketed if you ask me) show rooms & vignettes put me in awe. Such simple design with everything they sell all beautifully laid out. Your mind starts to wander.

“If I buy this shelving unit with its matching storage boxes, I could finally get my front entryway organized therefore making it appear less awkward and cluttered.”  Followed by a “Then it will be so open so I could put this pretty thing in the corner by the door to make it look funky”.  [I tell yas, those marketing people truly ARE clever. Or sneaky.]

Almost everyone I’ve ever known simply can not set foot into Ikea without leaving with something that wasn’t on their shopping list – even those friends with such great strength and determination to say NO to a huge slab of chocolate cake sitting in front of them.

This store just makes you WANT.   And a lot of the time, you’re just buying “stuff”.  Now if you’re someone that is great at putting the “stuff” they buy to use, then this store could be great for you. For the most part, I see the masses at the check out buying a lot of lil things and usually there’s a theme to it and then there’s the odd scraggler “stuff” item.  Totally an impulse buy.

Don’t get me wrong – I. Love. Ikea.  I have gone there to buy furniture and housewares etc.  I’ve also gone there just for lunch. And yes, I’ve even gone in there to window shop, gather ideas on how I could benefit from having their products in my house thus making it more organized and feel like a “home”.   I tell yas, such great marketing!

Ikea – they always find a way to get you to part with your money.

So tell me, why do you love Ikea? (OR why do you dislike it?)

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery … or is it?

Its understandable that people with similar interests & hobbies do end up liking and doing the same things as well as those that are close to you aka friends & family.  I get the whole “Oh thats cool! I wanna do that too!”  OR “I wanna try that!” after finding something on the net (ie via an awesome organizational blog ;)) or seeing something on TV / in a magazine (a la Martha Stewart).  After all, this is the day and age of DIY.  Whats even better is when your friends or family have already taken the guess work out of trying to figure out how to do the said ‘cool thing’.   All you have to do is swoop in and try to cash in on their glory.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m all for sharing cool new finds and ideas, especially boasting about new ones that have turned out successful but when you feel you’re being watched intensely so they can swoop in, it kinda takes the wind outta your sail.

At this point, you could be thinking “Put on your Big Girl panties and deal with it! Thats how life is!”  OR you could be sitting there totally in agreement with me.

What I want to know is at what point do you stop sharing your triumphs or call out your copy cats?

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