Raisin Report: No. 2

Rasin Report - edition 2Every year the same thing happens to me – I want to revamp my Christmas decor.  Obviously I can’t buy everything new each year, and plus it’d be like a slap in the face to my decorations that made their debut only last season.  I’ve always kept my decor simple.  A touch of greenery, red and white holly berries, silver and white accents, and some birch woodsy pieces.  I like to think of it as a Rustic meets Red.

During the holiday season there are so many routes you can take when it comes to decorating your home. Bright red, old fashioned or vintage, very joyful and colourful, gold, black and white, rustic…the list goes on and on.  And don’t forget the outside, just a few twinkling lights, or you can really go all out on your energy bill and do this.

I’ve always been drawn to Scandinavian Christmas decor.  The simplistic style driven by nature, the clean lines and minimalism is right up my alley.  These ideas are amazing and have simple dyi’s for anyone looking to bring the outdoors inside.  And after I saw this page, it pretty much made me want to pack my bags and go to Iceland for Christmas.

Rasin Report - scandanavian 2

Once the holiday season rolls around I slowly start to bring touches of Christmas around the house. Something on the shelf over here, a center piece makes its way to the coffee table, the fireplace is strung with stockings, and of course accents tucked in various areas waiting to be noticed.  It’s so nice having the house decked, but the saddest part is when it’s all over and the decor is all stored away. The house looks so empty afterwards! One thing that is amazing about the day after Christmas is buying new decor.  Truth be told I never buy anything that’s Christmas decor related until the 26th…hello Boxing Day sales and a little something called 75% off!

Whatever your holiday decor style is, it’s always fun to take everything out of storage and relive and rekindle the Christmas spirit around your house.  Whether it’s minimal, or you look like you live in Santa’s toy shop, make it yours and own it.  It’s all about what you love and what makes you feel good.

CHADELIER CANDLES / MINI CHRISTMAS TREE / RECLAIMED WOOD WITH STOCKING / BRANCH WITH ORNAMENTS / PALLET COFFEE TABLE AND TREES / OUTDOOR CHAIR / BURLAP STAR / ANTLERS AND LANTERN / CANDLES ON TABLE STAND / ORNAMENTS HANGING IN FRAME / TREE AND ORNAMENTS / VASE WITH BRANCHES AND PINECONES

Christmas Clay Gift Tags

Gift Tags 1I have a confession to make.  During this time of year I suffer from a a slight obsession, I mean aside from the obvious of eating Ferrero Rochers’ to no end and convincing myself hot chocolate is necessary whenever we hit negative temperatures.  My inner elf comes out and let’s everoyne know I have a love affair of wrapping up presents.  As a little kid I used to wrap everything at Christmas I could possibly get my hands on.  A box of kleenex, a tube of toothpaste, and the fiasco of wrapping my parents cheque book which I had no idea was used for anything – that was a huge surprise on Christmas morning.  Needless to say, I love wrapping gifts and every year I like to come up with some sort of theme and roll with it.  Last year the theme revolved around black and white wrapping paper and incorporated washi tape.  This year, I’m all about these DIY clay gift tags I found on Pinterest.  And I kid you not, they’re the easiest thing in the world to make.

Gift Tags 2

All you need is five items to make these:  Polyform air dry modeling clay, a rolling pin, cookie cutters, stamps, a toothpick and of course your creativity.  After that the rest is easy.

Gift Tags 3It’s so easy in fact even a toddler can do it, which is another amazing factor in this DIY – it’s family friendly. Give your little one their own tools and let them create away.  If you try to use anything that looks like play dough around your kids, they’re gonna want to join in!  A few things to point out, I did roll my modeling clay on parchment paper as I felt it was easier to handle, and after I let the clay dry for 24 hours I smoothed out any rough edges with a sheet of sand paper.

Gift Tags 4

You can pretty much cut any shape you like, I did a few circles, some hearts and stars, as well as some squares.  I used existing stamps I had and then tried imprinting crochet with a rolling pin over top the clay which worked really nicely and then cut out my circle shapes.  You could personalize each one if you like, or leave them blank and write on them once their dry.  Don’t forget to use your toothpick during the process to make a hole for your ribbon or twine.  A straw would work too if you have larger ribbon.

Gift Tags6

I made over 30 tags with lots of clay to spare for only $7.99.  Not a bad deal considering you can buy some pretty swanky tags for much more, and bonus these can double as ornaments for the tree after the fact.  Try it out – you’ll look like freakin’ Martha Stewart!

DIY CHRISTMAS CLAY GIFT TAGS

Supplies:

1 Package Polyform Air Dry Modeling Clay (I bought this kind)
Rolling Pin
Cookie Cutters
Stamps
Toothpick
Parchment paper (optional)

Directions:

1 – Kneed clay a bit, roll out on a smooth surface over parchment paper if using.

2 – Use a variety of cookie cutters and cut out shapes.  Stamp anything you like on them.  If using any pattern like crochet, roll pattern on the clay first and then use the cookie cutters on clay to cut shapes after that.

3 – Pin a hole in each tag you’ve created with a toothpick big enough to loop ribbon or twine through.

4 – Let air dry for 24 hours

5 – Wrap presents with your gorgeous homemade creations and sit back while people look at you in awe and wonder how you did it!

Snow Day

Snowday1FREEZING.  That’s the one word I can use to sum up winter in the prairies.  Last year I think we all wondered: why in the world do we still live here!?  It was a winter where you’d leave your car running for 15 minutes just to warm up, and leaving the house seemed like a horrible idea.  Any kind of errand fell into one category: do I REALLLLY need this right now?  Anything that meant going outside seemed torturous.  And fashionistas, forget about “winter style” if it’s not warm and layers of anything down-filled, forget it!  Whenever people think of winter they picture skating, skiing, snowboarding…yup those are all fun, but when you had a winter like we did where the windchill hit – 45, you pretty much wanted to live inside a fireplace.  So that’s why this past weekend was like a winter wonderland.  It was -1 and it was glorious!  It’s everything you imagine spending a winter day should be like.  Building snowmen and forts, throwing snowballs, making snow angels, going cross country skiing, skating…ALL OF IT. We couldn’t resist spending an entire day outside, so we put on our coats, boots, mitts, and toques and were on an outdoor high.

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We had the best time.  One activity steamrolled into the next, and my winter legs were back!  I suddenly remembered how much I actually do love having four seasons, and my love of winter was renewed.  Yes we have obscenely cold winters, yes we need to wear sorels, yes we need to bundle up, and yes we have to thaw out to the point where it feels like pins and needles, but then there are days like these that make us appreciate it all.   And there’s this funny thing about toddlers – when it comes to water and winter, they don’t care about cold!   It’s all fun and games and it’s awesome to relive winter love with the Raisin.  What’s more fun then building snowmen and naming them Charles, and sidekick Mamoka, or throwing snowballs, and then hitting up the sled and getting snow inside your mouth.  Then cap it all off by heading indoors to sip on hot chocolate (of course doused with loads of marshmallows) while you look out the window checking out your snow masterpieces.  Sounds pretty rad, right?

Snowday3

^^^ Mason was running around our neighbours yard with this sled! Ms. Jani is such a patient and loving lady I tell ya.  Anyhow, truth be told Winnipeggers are totally tough.  And seriously, “we are winter” isn’t a slogan for the weak.  There are LOADS of winter activities to make this long season somewhat bearable, (but talk to me in march and I’ll have a bag packed to go anywhere I promise) and we have the best events in the city to help you embrace the cold regardless of how bitter it can make you. Looking forward to this in the new year with a few friends – bring it on winter…bring it on.

Raisin Report: No.1

Rasin Report - edition 1

Do you ever have an abundance of things going on in your life? Everything just seems to happen all at once sometimes?  The everyday errands pile up coupled with the DIY sitting in the corner over there, or the cards that need to be addressed and stamped over here, christmas lists galore on the fridge, and yes of course the toilet sitting in the hallway staring me in the face.  Yes you heard that right – DIY sitting in the corner…oh wait – toilet sitting in the hallway…right, that’s happening right now.

My cousin once told me that the true test to any marriage is going through renos.  Just so you know, thankfully we haven’t hit “that level.”  We’re only doing a very minor bathroom update, but I can tell you this much – I love having a DIY kicking in the corner to take care of, but a toilet in the hallway (and it’s only been a day) sky rockets my “OCD I need tidiness level into overdrive.”  That said, I kinda love scouring Pinterest for ideas of what the bathroom could look like once it’s finished.

We have a very small bathroom upstairs which we only use for Raisins’ bathtime, or as the spare bathroom while the main one is occupied. Regardless of how little we use it, I still want a bathroom that I walk into and love.  So my life has pretty much been consumed watching HGTV so I can pretend to know what I’m doing when it comes to renos, and I’ve been on Pinterest to muster up a few decor ideas for the size and space.

As of right now, the tile flooring has been torn out and replaced.  FYI it looks WAY better.  I’ll hopefully show some before and after pics soon. Next up is getting the toilet back in, and a new sink in place.  We bought this sink at IKEA.  It’s a nice size as we need to maximize the tight space, and the price was perfect for this small reno too.

Truth be told I wasn’t really into altering the bathroom right now, but after seeing the new floor – game on!  The only way to describe the feeling was like I was on a date and had my first kiss with the guy I’m now married to kinda excited.  It’s amazing what gets me going in my 30’s:  bathroom flooring, shopping in the “home” section at the store, or choosing new cabinet hardware.  Once I cook my very own turkey I’ll officially cross that line of pure adult hood.

Anyhow, more to come as the bathroom progresses, which I hope will be wrapped up in a pretty bow by Monday.  Glass half full people!  Side note, this Raisin Report is gonna be a regular thing on the blog – you know like peanut butter and honey, wine and chocolate, or watching The Bachelor and laughing.  It’ll be around weekly and will be about anything happening in my world.  Maybe an interview, or a profile, or a review on stuff I like or don’t like.  So stay tuned for more – boop.

DIY FLOATING SHELF / DIY MASON JARS / DIY MIRROR STORAGE / BATHROOM DECOR / PALLET BATHROOMBATHROOM VANITY / OPEN VANITY / SLIDING BARN DOOR

Rosemary, Fig & Goat Cheese Tart

Intro Fig Rosemary Goat CheeseGuys, I should have done this years ago because it pretty much feels like I haven’t lived until this: my life pre-rosemary, fig and goat cheese tart, and my life post-rosemary, fig and goat cheese tart.  Well ok, there’s a tad of drama happening in that sentence, but honestly this tart appetizer is so tasty and easy you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life.  I think I’m going to make this a regular thing and officially add it into the rotation of what to bring to a party.

tart1

When I say this recipe is totally easy, well, I kind of lied. There is a tough component to it all.  It’s pretty much deciding whether you should double the recipe or not because it’ll disappear quickly.  Another negative is sampling the fig jam on toast and using half the jar before making the tarts – which may or may not have happened. I plead the fifth, but damn that stuff is delicious.

Goat Cheese Tart3

There’s no better way to enjoy cheese than to melt it in the oven over some puff pastry.  I highly recommend you do it right after reading this blog post.  Really though, I’ll eat cheese any way regardless of the pairing, but melted on top of a buttery crispy puff pastry kind of trumps a cracker don’t you think? And when you add some fig jam, fresh rosemary and lemon zest…helllllooo try not to binge eat the entire tart.

Goat Cheese Tart 4

This appetizer is very season appropriate.  Have you ever noticed how the grocery store cheese aisles during December are stacked as high as pyramids?  It’s kinda like a rights of passage this time of year to EAT ALL THE CHEESE!  And, of course tip back a bevie (or two) of your choice.  This tart may seem like a pizza, but it’s anything but!  I like to call it fancy.  I was sold at fig jam, rosemary and goat cheese – here’s hoping you are too!

ROSEMARY, FIG & GOAT CHEESE TART

Recipe by: Adapted from Fine Cooking
Yields: about 8-9 servings

Ingredients:

1 – Package goat’s milk cheese (the package size I bought was 140 g)
6 – Tablespoons fig jam
4 – Tablespoons heavy cream
1 – sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (I used this)
1 – Lemon
4 – Tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
Pepper to taste
Flour for dusting

Directions:

1 – Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.

2 – Thinly slice the cheese and then crumble and tear it into a small bowl.  Add the cream and mash together with a fork until combined.

3 – Roll the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface into a 12×17-inch rectangle. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the pastry in half lengthwise and then cut a 3/4-inch strip off all 4 edges of each piece of pastry. Transfer the two large pieces of pastry to a 13×18-inch rimmed baking sheet. Make this on your baking sheet otherwise if you try to transfer it after, it may break.  Dip a pastry brush in water and brush a 3/4-inch border around each large piece of pastry. Stack the trimmed strips of pastry onto the damp dough, creating a border all the way around.  You can make this look as pretty or as rustic as you choose.

4 – Spoon the fig jam inside the border of each pastry and spread it.

5 – Dollop and spread the cheese mixture over the fig jam inside the borders of each pastry.  I just spread it a bit with my finger tips. Remember,  it will melt a bit and even out.

6 – Evenly grate the zest of the lemon over the cheese and scatter the rosemary leaves over the top. Grind some fresh pepper to taste.  Bake the tarts until puffed and deep golden brown on the top and golden on the bottom, about 17 minutes, rotating the pan half way through baking. Cut each tart, serve warm, and inhale…I mean enjoy.

Goat Cheese Tart 6 Cheese…drool.

Christmas Flicks

christmas flicks_finalI’m gonna throw out a few movie quotes, and I bet my Christmas spirit you’ll know where they’re from in a millisecond.  “I just like to smile, smiling’s my favourite.”  “PETER!  We slept in!”  “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Seriously, what’s the Christmas season without all those flicks playing on every other channel? It’s pretty much a give in I’ll watch any Christmas movie on t.v.  I don’t even care how cheesy it is, or how bad it may be on the acting scale, but odds are I’ll tune into it and it’ll make smile or cry.  Fun fact: yours truly once sobbed at the end of the movie Elf, but to my defence I was also in a very hormonal and pregnant state at the time.  It’s the scene where the crowd slowly starts singing “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” because the “best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.”  This gives the sleigh enough power in its’ clausometer to fly.  I remember crying tears of joy and turning to Chris saying: “he MADE IT!” Yup, true story.  And that was after I’d watched the movie a handful of times before and never noticed.  Funny thing those hormones.

Don’t even try to tell me that you didn’t watch The Santa Clause  and then wonder, maybe he still does exist, circa me when I was 13.  Or laugh out loud during any scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  By the way, this is how much we love those Griswolds.  Of course no season is complete without Ralphie walking down the stairs in his bunny suit, or seeing that iconic leg lamp in the window.  There are so many movies to choose from – but I don’t think I could get by without watching Love Actually.  The stories intertwined of love, struggles, courage and shenanigans all reign true to someone in someway.  And maybe it’s because I’m Portuguese and I maaaaaaay be a little biased, but Aurelia and Jamie as a couple are kinda my favourite story line.

Around here the Christmas season starts with hanging our lights outside, trimming the tree, decorating the house, and baking some cookies just to name a few.  But you better believe all Christmas tasks are being done with a christmas movie playing in the background.

Here’s a small list of movies I’ve happened to catch (and watched) on tv this year so far.  Aside from these you can find an HUGE list of Christmas movies here.

.: 1 :.  Elf

.: 2 :.  Love Actually

.: 3 :.  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

.: 4 :.  A Christmas Story

.: 5 :.  Four Christmases

.: 6 :.  Family Man

.: 7 :.  Home Alone

.: 8 :.  The Holiday

.: 9 :.  Scrooged

.:10:.  Just Friends

Gifts for the Guy

gift him intro titleWhat can I say?  Well, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it!?  After a HUUUGE hiatus, I’m getting my blog legs back. What’s happened over the year I’ve taken off you ask?  Well, I’m a pro at falling asleep on the couch in the evening while “watching tv” (a skill I’ve learned from my father – he’s taught me well).  The Raisin isn’t so much a wee babe anymore – he’s a toddler who believes the moon is made out of pizza, and has mastered asking us for five more minutes.  Of course this is done with his hand outstretched showing us his five fingers to assure we understand FIVE.  Aside from that, things are pretty much the same, except hellooooo Christmas is at our heels.  A.K.A the best time of the year!  Soooo I’m pretty much swimming in lists…LOOOOTS  of lists!  Some consist of which presents to buy, and more importantly for who.  First up, the guy in my life.  I seriously have to rack my brain for ideas on this one every-time!  I’m not into buying a tie, or some random tool I THINK he’ll use. So I’ve been scouring sites for some things I know he’ll be into.

Christmas Gifts for him 2014That shaving set is something I’ve bought for Chris before and he swears it’s changed his shaving life! Now it’s a good go to gift replenisher whenever he’s running low on the cream, or oil.  Clothes and accessories like runners, or a new cool duffle bag are a great idea too – give him something extra special that will make him stick out of the crowd, like that stylish leather iPad cover.  If your guy is hard to buy accessories or clothes for, check out the tumblers made out of wine bottles, or a gin making kit.  Whatever you buy for the guy in your life, I’m sure he’ll love it!  Victory to not buying ties or tools!

New Balance RunnersThe Art of ShavingGet Away DuffelWine TumblersGin KitAntler Bottle OpenerGeek Art BookLeather iPad CaseNixon Watch • intro image credit

 

Good News Thursday: 7th Edition

goodnewsthursdayHello, hello all.  Not gonna lie or sugar coat things here.  It’s been hectic.  It’s been tiring.  It’s been a heck of a lot of work, but you roll with it, right?  Day by day, one thing at a time…let’s just take a deep breath and do this!

I always remind myself we’re pretty lucky through it all. Mom took a few steps back after some progress, but we’re told it’s not unusual.  We went from me having to feed her, walk her to and from the bathroom, brushing her hair etc.  To her sitting up and eating, moving around on her own, back to me feeding her and holding her to move from place to place.  I just wanna swift kick germs in the face Chuck Norris style, or more hilarious yet – Steven Seagal slow mo’ style.

All that said – I know she’s going to get better so that’s good news in itself.  Not to mention the overwhelming response from all family and friends.  It’s so nice to know there’s a network of folks that surround you who genuinely care.  My heart bursts thinking about it!  I hope you’re all well – stay healthy friends!  If I can say anything it’s that.  I appreciate hospitals to no end, but at the same time am kiiiinda done with them.  I wonder why they bother with clocks in these joints?  There’s no need to factor in concept of time…kinda like a casino.

Anyhow I’m hoping you’ve all had fabulous weeks so far, and are going into an even better weekend! Hugs and high fives!

Tired

momRemember when I said I was tired and exhausted, but by Thursday I was back into a routine from Raisins’ stay in the hospital. Welllll I spoke to soon.  I’m tired again, exhausted, and things are all over the place.  Friday afternoon I called my mom.  She sounded horrible…with a capital H.  Clearly things weren’t going well.  She never complains about being sick and was on the verge of calling an ambulance because she didn’t want to be a bother to anyone.  WTH, right!?  Bother to anyone…please let us help you woman!

Fast forward to 7:30 we’re sitting in urgent care, she gets blood work done and we are top of the line priority to get seen.  This  a) freaked me out because if you get bumped up…something is WRONG.  b) I was alone with her and needed to keep it together  c)  was so shocked I was back in emergency within a week and a half with someone else.  It was felt like the universe was crapping down on me.  To sum up what’s going on, her white blood cell count is at ZERO!  Um…that’s insane.  So she’s on a cocktail of meds to bump up the number of her white blood cell count, and a couple of different antibiotics to help until they can determine what virus is attacking her body.  She pretty much has no defence mechanism in place to fight away anything due to her non existing white blood cells.

So my the bulk of my weekend view was another hospital bed in a room shared with 3 other patients. Although that said, we still had our friends over for dinner…I didn’t want to cancel because I needed one piece of normalcy in my life.  Call me crazy, but sometimes you need to do what you need to do.  I tagged out of the hospital for the evening, although my mind was always there.  Everyone told me I needed to get away for the night…they were right, but of course it wasn’t easy to stop worrying.

It’s hard to see your child, then your mother in a state of helplessness.  It feels like I have no concept of the date or time right now.  I’m working on a balance of running my own home, now with my parents – the nice thing is we have a lovely support system of family and friends who have all extended their arms for help.  But priority one is getting my mama healthy…then everything else can matter.  The good thing is, I do see progress, as slow as it may be she is improving.

Dinner Party, Please!

dinner postTomorrow night will be the first night in ages that we host dinner with another couple.  Between weekend commitments, going out to functions, tagging back and forth on who goes out with pals, and being just plain tired, I am super pumped that we have people coming over. The bathroom has never looked so damn clean..haha.

During the week, we eat typical meals .  A meal planner I am not, but I always have dinner ready for Chris and I every evening.  (With the odd tuna melt or grilled cheese thrown in there on crazy days). And, I’m a HUGE fan of meals that have leftovers – double win for me!  Truth be told though, we always end up eating standing in the kitchen while chatting about the day and coaxing Raisin to have “just one bite”.  So tomorrow will be kinda nice to have a table set, wine (and prosecco of course) being poured feely and chatting it up while actually SITTING down at our table for a meal.

Planning what to make/serve is the fun part.  Tomorrow I’m making my favourites.  If you want the EASIEST appetizer here is it.  People literally ask me for the recipe after the first bite.  This Kahlua-Pecan-Brown Sugar Baked Brie is beyond delicious. Yes, I just said Kahlua, Pecan, Brown Sugar eaten all at once with some Brie…you’re welcome.  And it looks amazing presentation wise if you’re into that sorta thing.

Having friends over means that after the appetizer, I bolt upstairs to give Raisin his bath and put him for down for bed.  This equals two things.  One, a nice little breather between the appetizer and dinner.  Two, Chris bar-tending and enjoying our friends – I’m sure it’s safe to say he doesn’t mind this job ;)

Which leads us to dinner.  I LOVE this Zucchini Ribbon Salad.  Fresh flavours, and a little toasted walnut in the mix – hellllo..I could eat a whole bowl of this stuff.  And of course the main entree.  This dish is a winner.  Again another one I make that people need the recipe for immediately.  Chicken Marbella. The nice thing about it is you prep it the night before so all the flavours absorb.  The you pop it in the oven for an hour.  The magic in this dish is the prunes – yes prunes.  It may seem odd, but it tastes AMAZING.  I usually serve it alongside veggies like green beans, and a rice pilaf.  Anything goes really.  If it’s just Chris and I eating it though, I buy a nice big baguette and we eat the Chicken on it’s own with the bread for sopping up all the amazing juices/gravy.

For dessert, our lovely guests are whipping something up.  I can’t wait for tomorrow night.  What’s better than good food, great friends, and a simple evening in your home?!  Happy Weekend all!  And in the spirit of Christmas coming, here’s one dinner scene that ALWAYS cracks me up.

Photo credit: 1/2/3