Back Into The Swing Of Things.

 Now that the holidays are almost over I’m flung right back into “reality”. A few days ago an electrical outlet blew and it basically took out two rooms, one being my laundry room. So I’ve been having to relocating our laundry room and living area to basically the middle of our house in our “storage room”. I am not looking forward to these changes. 

For the amount of space we have, we have little to no storage and it’s extremely frustrating as we’ve had to convert our dining room into a storage room. It’s closed off via the kitchen with a door and the other side is a make shift curtain. Beautiful, I know,  but at least it looks presentable and I’m not showing off boxes and bins when people walk down that hallway.

I don’t think I’ll be hosting a party until I can get this issue fixed. I’m bummed to say the least that this had to happen right around the holidays but I am relieved to know that it didn’t put a damper on my family and that’s really what means the most to me. However, it will put a damper on my bank account and that is slightly depressing but it needs to be done.

I want my laundry and entertaining room back!

 

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Clean…Clean…Clean

As you all know the holidays are a time for family, friends and amazing pow-wows which involve catching up with everyone’s life adventures and thinking of ways to create new memories. Well, for me the holidays mean cleaning. Lots and lots of cleaning. Removing unwanted or unneeded items and donating or selling them to make room for everything else that shall now clutter my household. 

My mother is visiting from South Florida this weekend and I am more than thrilled to have her here just in time for Christmas. Since she has moved it’s been a bit hectic for me, I no longer have anyone to actually watch my children while I clean so a lot of things changed instantly once she moved. Primarily the use of cleaning products. I no longer spend the crazy amount of money to purchase cleaning products for my house..I simply make them myself.

Doing a little research I found great recipes to make your own cleaning supplies with items you normally have around your everyday house.

White Vinegar: it’s great for cutting grease and removing mildew. 

Isopropyl Alcohol: A great disinfectant. (I would suggest diluting the alcohol with water for safe measure)

Lavender and/or Fragrance Oils. I love the smell of lavender and use it primarily in all of my fragrance products. It’s also really delicious in food. (The plant not the oil) 

Lemon: Nature’s own acidic bacteria cleanser (and it smells great!)

Baking Soda:  Deodorizes, scours and cleans. (great for stubborn stoves/pans)

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To make an “All-Purpose” Cleaner:

Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda into 1/2 gallon of water.

I use this cleaner mainly in my bathroom to clean the chrome fixtures, remove water stains and clean the mirrors.

Air Freshener:

There are so many tricks for this. One of my favourite is combining lavender and lavender oil into a small pan and bring to a low broil on the stove. It fills the house with this amazing smell and you can use whatever type of oil or flower you’d like to freshen your home.

If that’s a bit much and you want something simple. Combine baking soda or vinegar with lemon juice in small dishes around the house and let it absorb the odors or grind a lemon in the garbage disposal and let the house fill with that lemony fresh scent. 

Carpet Stains:

If you have children like I do then you know all about carpet stains. I remember trying everything to get those stubborn juice stains out and finally, I did and I made it myself. No more Stanley Steamer for me! To do make your own carpet cleaner do the following:

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, spray directly onto the stain and let sit for about 5-10 minutes. Then clean with a warm, soapy sponge or carpet brush. For a more “heavy duty” cleaner, mix 1/4 cup of salt, borax and vinegar. Rub the paste into the carpet for a few hours and then vacuum. 

 

I hope you all enjoy these. I know I do. 🙂

Caramel Filled Apples. Yum!

It has been eleven days since my last post and for that I confess. I thought I posted this the day I actually made these but um..Oops! Somewhere between getting ready for the holidays and crafting up a frenzy I made caramel filled apples. The idea originally came from a recipe in which these apples were used in a more adult manner, i.e booze shots! Since “booze shots” will not be consumed by my toddlers, I thought to shake the idea around a little.

INGREDIENTS:

6 Green apples (or however many you’d like to use)

Lemon Juice

FOR CARAMEL:

1 Cup of Sugar

1/4 Cup of Water

6 tablespoons of butter

DIRECTIONS:

Cut apples into halves.

Line the inside of the apples with a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning while being exposed to the air then set aside. Since my last post I’ve made these at least three times and each a different way.I found that cutting the apples can easily be skipped until the caramel sauce is made or close to finished.

FOR CARAMEL:

In a 2-3 quart saucepan stir water and sugar on low heat until sugar dissolves. At this time I would suggest getting mitts if you’re a bit clumsy like yours truly. I waited a moment too late and I have to say, I deserved it.

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Bring contents to a boil on medium heat or medium high. Cook until sugar beings to caramelize. You’ll notice it right away, the sugar will begin to turn brown. At this point you should at the butter and stir lightly. I would try to avoid over stirring though as sugar crystals will begin to form on the sides and it can get a little frustrating trying to remove them. Especially when you’re making more in the process. Oops!

Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.* Psst, this would be a good time to cut up those apples, yeah?

Pour caramel sauce into each apple half. You might have some left over which you can save for ice cream Sunday fun day or whatever you enjoy.

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I put them in the fridge for a few hours until after dinner and when I took them out I split one apart for each of my twins to share. I was thinking, you’re not going to be able to cut this, but I did and the caramel was so smooth. Delicious!

Hmm, now I might have to go make some more. Hope you all enjoy them as much as we do and Happy holidays!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes!

Last night I wanted to make cookies but the baking sheet I always use was being preoccupied by another pastry and I had to be a bit creative.I came up with the idea of chocolate chip cookie cupcakes! They’re delicious and super moist. The recipe was found online and I have officially made it my new favourite for chocolate chip cookies.

INGREDIENTS:
2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup packed light brown sugar (7 ounces)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet or milk chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make sure an oven rack is in the center of the oven.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

Either by hand or with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until well mixed. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla. Mix well until the batter has lightened slightly in color, about 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and chocolate chips at the same time. Mix until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Form dough into tablespoonful-sized balls and place on parchment or silpat-lined cookie sheets. Frozen cookie dough can be stored for up to 2 months in the freezer.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until the edges are set and just lightly browned (keeping in mind that ovens can vary in temperature so use your best judgment). Don’t over bake or else the cookies will be tough and hard. If baking frozen cookie dough, add 1 to 2 minutes onto the baking time. Store the baked cookies in an airtight container (or baked cookies can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months).

Play-dough Thursday!

Its only Thursday and I’ve already re-decorated my kitchen, started two new crafting projects and I’m getting ready to work on one of the latter. I’ve had this insane burst of energy this week and I wanted to utilize it in a productive manner and although I’ve accomplished a lot these past few days, I always feel the need to incorporate my little ones in something too.

I woke up wanting to create something new and wanted to feed their creative nature as well. My first thought was painting but since I’ve run out of spare cloth I needed something else, something more hands on than their last.

Home made play-dough.

The recipe for this is super easy.

Food colouring (or sugar free Kool-Aid powder)

1 cup of flour,

1/2 salt,

1 cup water,

2 tablespoons vegetable oil.

Combine water, salt, food colouring and oil into saucepan.

Heat until warm.

Add flour and knead until smooth.

Use a Ziploc bag to store in cool, dry area.

* Adding cream of tartar to the flour allows the dough to be stored for an extra 6 months. 

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When Daddy is away. Mommy will play.

Ok so not technically “away” but this weekend my hubby made a trip to the emergency room and while he was attached to the bed the entire weekend upon his release, I was able to get some crafting done. I wanted to reupholster our couch but after that unplanned financial fiasco I had to make do with something not so costly.

Cutting and painting glass.

You don’t need much to do this project: Cold water, string, Acetone (nail polish remover), A lighter or matches and scissors or, in my case, my husband’s carpet knife and instead of buying expensive glass paint, I made my own using Elmer’s school glue, food colouring and dish liquid.  Everything I needed was already in the house, with the exception of the string and food colouring, so I knew that this was going to be a project that I could do every week without worrying about putting a dent in the bank account. Which makes me very happy.

This is my set up.

I also enlisted the help of two assistants to make this project move a little faster.

Once the string is wrapped around the part of the bottle you’d like to cut, and let me take a moment to point out that the bottle in the picture, did not break, at all. I tried it at least 3 times and I believe it was just too thick so chose your bottles carefully. Wine bottles work very well I learned. After the string is wrapped, take it off and saturate it with acetone. Try not to get any of the acetone on the rest of the bottle, the flame will follow the trail and when you go to place it in the cold water, the whole bottle will break. Again, learned from trial and error. I found the easiest way, for me, was to take some of the acetone and poor it directly over the string after I tied it and then wipe the bottle dry.

Next, take your matches or lighter and light the string. It will immediately catch fire if done properly so take this time, while it burns off, to spin the bottle slowly one direction and then the other. Once all of the acetone has burned away place the bottle in the cold water and it should instantly break.

That’s the fun part!

To paint the bottles mix your school glue with the food colouring dye of your choice, add a few drops of dish liquid and mix. Once your bottle is completely dry, inside and out, fill the inside with your paint and turn the bottle to coat the inside. You can use a skinny paint brush if needed. Paint the outside using a regular brush and try not to leave streaks or drip marks in the paint  so it will have a nice smooth surface when it dries. The finished look is beautifully coloured new pieces for you to decorate your home.

Happy Halloween

The girls and I are beyond ready for a little Trick or Treating today. The hubs and I purchased their costumes a few days ago in order to get them ready for our town’s downtown trick or treating extravaganza. Over 50 companies held their doors open for two hours just to hand out candy to the little ones. It was truly amazing to see, all the little ones and adults all costumed up and parading from door to door. I think my favourite part was all of the chocolate the girls received and in true mother fashion, I took it all. Not to be cruel but because the last thing my children need is chocolate. They have this natural energy high that if I could bottle and sell, would make me a trillionaire!

This year the girls were able to pick out their own costumes and thankfully we didn’t wait last minute like the year before. My youngest wanted to be Thomas the Train and my eldest, Snow White. Perfectly fitting if you knew the personalities of these two.

 

Having twins with completely different personalities is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because you know that they’ll be into totally different things but also a curse because if one has something, the other has to as well. I guess that only applies to the youngest twin but being the youngest myself..I can see where she gets her since of “I want one toooo!”

Since today is actually Halloween and even more festivities will be lining the streets. I thought I’d take the girls to an actual neighborhood considering we live on a street with three houses, one being our own. They haven’t taken off their costumes all week and have been wanting to go trick or treating again so today is the day! (:

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE! 

May you and your family stay safe this holiday night.