Saturday, October 25, 2014

Upcycled Crates

Someone posted a status update on Facebook the other day in which they were looking to unload some crates.

You KNOW I'm all over that!

Only problem - they were a bit pricey - but they did get me to surfing the internet for the "crate-est" ideas!

Check these out and tell me you're not heading out scavenging crates later today. lol

Christmas decor for your front porch.  I love this.
Image courtesy of Home Depot
A crate bench.
Image courtesy of Hometalk
 Bookshelves in primary colours for the kids or solid colours/stains for adults.
Image courtesy of Crazy Little Projects
 Need a little extra pantry storage?
Image courtesy of DIYCandy
 How about repurposing a few to create this rustic desk?
A blanket box by the couch,
and a bookshelf for the wall nearby.
Image courtesy of RetroPolitanHip
 How about upcycling a few crates to create a coffee table - complete with storage and wheels!

Image courtesy of DIY Vintage Chic
 Cut a crate in half and create book storage for the kids.  This would be great to keep track of library books by the front door!
  

Need some extra storage/shelving in the bathroom?

  
Image courtesy of Morning by Morning Productions
I love this market display - it would be fantastic in a kitchen to display and store potatoes, onions, apples and the like.
Image courtesy of Primitive Rug Hooking
 Tuck a couple of crates under your coffee table for a quick tidy before guests arrive.

Image courtesy of the DIY Village

Not only can you store your wood near the fire, but you can use it as a decorative holiday display at the same time!
Image courtesy of Blue Roof Cabin
Castors again, but this time to keep your magazine collection close to your reading chair.



I think I need one of each - who knew repurposing could look so good? 



Time to go salvaging! 






HEY!  There's an idea - You could use crates for trunk storage!  (not as a condom of course)

Have a great one!
  
 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Vermont - Fall Foliage Tour

Let me tell you about Vermont - for all of those who have never seen it.

It is SPECTACULAR.

The fall foliage is true artwork from God.  The scenery - with the mountains, the colours, the wood sided houses and hand-carved signs - speaks to history and a defiance of commerciality.

You get the impression that the state is poor - houses could use a paint job, farms in disrepair - but it's not poverty like you'd see in Michigan or New York, or even London (ON).  It is green and lush and welcoming.

Women don't dye their hair (or none that I noticed), nor do they wear makeup (or very little).  Beards were predominant on men and plaid is the uniform of choice.

Pretentiousness is absent - and what a welcome absence!



Every town has it's own white church with a steeple that peeks through the foliage.



Large plastic or metal signs were only found on gas stations - beyond that, every business had wooden signs like the ones below.  They were beautifully carved and the lack of commercialism-as-I-know-it was refreshing.



Can you imagine walking to work each day looking at this?
I'd never make it into the office.



Two-lane highways everywhere and not one of them had even a small section less spectacular than this;



We travelled from October 14th to the 17th and we were perhaps a week in to the fall colours.  I'd suggest travelling anytime after the first week of October, but before today (October 24th) to see the best of the season.

Burlington, VT - the state's largest city at ~43,000 people and home to the University of Vermont.
"The University of Vermont is labeled one of the original "Public Ivies," a publicly funded university considered as providing a quality of education comparable to those of the Ivy League"    ~Wikipedia
Below is Church Street - a pedestrian only street with numerous shops and cafes - and home to the only Starbucks we could find in our travels.


Cold Hollow Cider Mill is a not-to-be-missed stop.  The best apple cider, and the only apple cider donut I've ever tasted.  (See what I mean about eating our way through Vermont?)



True to expectations, Vermont also has numerous covered bridges throughout the state.  If you're looking for the romance of 'Bridges of Madison County' in the backdrop of 'Baby Boom' or 'Dead Poet's Society' - this is the state you want to visit.



If road trips aren't your thing, don't worry - Vermont has it's share of outlet malls - both factory outlets (Essex), and designer outlets (Manchester) including Michael Kors, Coach, Armani and Kate Spade


I'm not going to lie - Coach is nice, but it was the row of knobs at Hobby Lobby that really had me drooling. lol



The best place to stay in Vermont?

I have to say The Essex - Culinary Resort and Spa.



It's location is perfect for day trips to Stowe, Waterbury, Burlington etc, and it's just a couple of blocks from the Vermont Factory Outlet stores.
To top it off, it's a culinary academy & resort - meaning the food is out of this world.  I actually had to forego my treat (bacon) because they have their own livestock at the facility and I was worried one of the little critters I'd seen out back was going to be my breakfast.  (I prefer face-less meat).  Hubby said his post-dinner snack of chicken wings were the best he's ever tasted.
This hotel we will definitely be returning to.

Hubby created a fall foliage tour - the one we actually did - so that if the opportunity arises for you to visit, you'll be able to see all of the same stunning scenery we did.



Thank you baby, for driving endless hours to make our 10th Anniversary the trip of a lifetime.  xox

Printable version here







 Have a great one!
  
 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ben & Jerry's

Last week marked our 10th Anniversary!

Did you know we haven't been on a vacation together - just the two of us - since our honeymoon?!
Sure one overnight in St. Jacobs - but that was it.  Everything else we've done, and everywhere else we've gone, has been with the girls.

Nothing wrong with that - but for my 10th I wanted just the two of us.
I wanted no responsibilities and I wanted to get away.

Only problem...  travelling is expensive and with both Hubby and Chloe's birthdays, not to mention Christmas, coming up - there really wasn't any wiggle room for a decadent getaway.

BUT
I have always wanted to go to Vermont during Autumn.
It's been on my wishlist for years - a Fall Foliage tour through the mountains and small towns.

So we did - 8 hour drive from London, ON to Burlington, VT and we had our adventure!

More on that tomorrow - but for today, I'm going to show you one of the (many) amazing places to visit in Vermont:

Ben & Jerry's.



In Waterbury, Vermont lies a Ben & Jerry's factory.
It might be the original factory, but I couldn't find confirmation online.
You know health-conscious, always dieting, no-sugar added people like us had to go and see what the fuss was about.  (that was written sarcasm in case it didn't translate)



From selling ice cream from a bus that they travelled the country in - to worldwide recognition - this must be some good ice cream?



I've only ever tried "Chunky Monkey" before (banana ice cream with chocolate chunks) - but check out the number of top sellers!
Our visit, and taste test, gave me a new favourite - New York super fudge chunk (chocolate ice cream with white chocolate chunks, chocolate covered almonds and I'm guessing some chocolate fudge - although it was lost in all the other chocolate going on).



They even have a flavour graveyard where there are stones to mark those flavours that didn't quite make the mark.


We’ve made a lot of euphoric flavors over the years, but, for better or worse, some of them have moved on to the great waffle cone in the sky. Tears of sadness are shed for our dearly de-pinted flavors, and we receive several thousand requests each year from our fans begging us to rein-cone-ate their favorite fallen flavor.      ~ benjerry.com

Now I know this ice cream is expensive - not more expensive than other premium brands - but expensive compared to the $5 four-litre version we usually buy BUT I have a new appreciation for why:

1.  Ben & Jerry's has a set group of farmers that they work with - these farmers are under contract not to feed their cows any types of hormones or steroids so that the milk is as pure as it can be.
2.  Ben & Jerry's supports "fair wage practices" which means that they pay their farmers a premium wage (both the farmers in Vermont and all over the world eg. Cocoa from Brazil etc).  This means that not only do they get the best ingredients, but also that the people providing those ingredients are also making enough to live on.  
I hadn't thought of the totem pole before - but this is something that we should all support.  It really is in our own best interests all around.

So maybe we have to buy less ice cream in order to balance out the cost - but hey, no one's waistline was hurt by eating less ice cream - and this is a much, MUCH better one.

We called our tour "Eating our way through Vermont", and this was the photo we sent home to the girls:




Aren't we mean parents?! lol  







Have a great one!
  
 


(note:  This is not a sponsored post.  Information included was just what I learned and wanted to pass along.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Best Pumpkin Muffins

I'm trying to use Google Adwords to come up with searchable titles for my blog posts.  What it does is take the topic of the post and then give me a list of possible titles that people have been searching for.

In this case - pumpkin muffins - the search options were endless.  I got "best pumpkin muffins", "spice pumpkin muffins", "healthy pumpkin muffins" and so on.
This recipe is all of the above, so perhaps I should have titled it "Best healthy pumpkin spice muffins"?

I'll let you decide.

You will need:


  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 cups pumpkin  (I used pumpkin pie filling - if you use pure pumpkin, you may want to add an additional cup of sugar)



Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.
Mix dry ingredients together.
Add liquid ingredients and mix well.


Use cupcake liners or lightly grease and flour cupcake tin.


Bake 
- full size muffins 20 - 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean
- mini-muffins for approximately 15 minutes, using the toothpick test as well.


Optional:
Frost with orange or cream cheese frosting.

These are so moist and delicious that I didn't add the frosting - but I have in the past and it just makes it impossible to stop eating them!


As it is, Hubby finished off about 4 mini muffins within minutes of them coming out of the oven.


More calories headed straight for my rear-end.
Actually, pumpkin has fibre, so quite possibly there will be more than calories heading that way? lol



Have a great one!
  
 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cat tent. (Actually, a tent for any small animal... except a fish)

I have three men in my life.

Hubby of course is first and foremost - but I have my "main men" Milo and Otis.

Yes, I am one of those women that sleeps with three men every single night.
(I had to make that sound better than it really is - two purr like lawnmowers - so it's not quite the three men of my fantasies.)

I saw a pet tent/cat tent on Pinterest and thought I would try it.
You will need:

  • an old t-shirt that you no longer want.  (Ideally large or XL)
  • two wire coat hangers
  • wire cutters
  • some tape
  • a box or basket large enough to hold your pet

The coat hangers in this photo are not strong enough (learned the hard way).  If you have a thicker metal hanger, that you can still cut through, it will be a much sturdier enclosure.



If you don't have a basket, a small box will work as well.  This is just half a pizza box reinforced around the edges with a little duck tape.



First off, cut the rounded part of the coat hangers off.



Straighten the hangers out into a shape something like this:



Fit the ends of the hangers into the corners of the box and then stick them together at the cross section.
Given Otis' chewing tendencies, I thought duck tape would be our best bet.



Then stretch the t-shirt over top of the frame and box.

You get the idea of the size here - this might be better for a ferret or kitten.  Odie is a little on the heavy side so, while he liked it, I thought I'd better go bigger.



I used the same frame, but put it into a large basket and lined it with "his blankie".



He loves it!

In fact, Milo (green eyes) thought he'd get into the action too and check it out.



Maddie thought she'd shove gently coerce both of the boys in together to see if it was big enough - it is, but Milo only has eyes for me, so he snuck back out.




This photo makes me laugh - GranDad and I call it "nuts up":
(brazen little bugger isn't he?)



Like father, like son. lol
My nightly foursome may have shrunk down to a menage-a-trios! lol

Next pet's names:  Dwayne Johnson and Joe Manganiello - then I'll really be bragging about whom I'm sleeping with!










Have a great one!