With my wedding coming up, I am trying any and all salad recipes I can get my hand on. No vegetable or fruit is safe! Not even melon.
After making watermelon and coconut water infused water earlier this summer, I’ve been dying to find more melon recipes to put to the test.
This watermelon salad recipe was so easy, tasty and different that I can see it becoming a BBQ favorite with my family.
It uses melon, honey, feta and cucumber (among other ingredients). Depending on where you live, you could literally grow or make all of the main ingredients for this salad yourself which is amazing. [Stay tuned for my first attempt at fresh mozzarella later this month!]
With my herb garden taking off better than I expected, I needed a way to use up the fresh mint before it goes to waste.
And voila! A salad that is both refreshing and sweet to take care of all of those summer-time cravings!
What’s your favorite summer-time treat from the garden?
At this stage in my year I’m planning my wedding (30 days!), working full time, writing for the Crow’s Nest and trying to keep the animals satisfied all while trying to make healthy choices- in a hurry! What sounds tastier than Strawberry banana breakfast muffins?!
Strawberries are almost out of season in eastern Canada
I was so excited to find these breakfast muffins on Emily Bites and couldn’t wait to try them! The recipe was so easy and had no white sugar or flour!
With the never-ending ripe bananas sitting on my counter it was another great way to use them up without having to succumb to heavy (but delicious) banana bread.
I basically followed the recipe. I added a little extra banana and some vanilla protein powder for an extra filling kick!
This recipe can easily be edited to add whatever is fresh at the time. Here we are at the tail end of strawberry season and are about to dive head first into raspberry and blackberry season. These would be great additions to the muffins. I am already getting excited to try this recipe with pumpkin in the fall!
Earlier this year we signed up for a local veggie box. It would bring us vegetables, fruits, breads and other specialty items from local producers. Among the first group of boxes was a jar of local raw honey. Like many people in my circle, I love the taste of honey and the idea of honey. However I didn’t really get into the habit of eating it enough to warrant opening an entire jar of liquid gold.
When my fiance and I first started dating I specifically remember him making me my first ever grilled cheese and bologna sandwich. This. Changed. Everything. I had never had any type of grilled sandwich beside plain grilled cheese with the god-awful processed cheese slices. This new addition opened my eyes to a whole other dimension of grilled sandwich goodness. (**Some would argue that bologna is just as processed as the cheese slices but bologna is one processed ‘treat’ I will always allow myself from time to time.)
Whenever I have something sitting in my cupboard that I really need to use, I turn to my favorite recipe finder: PINTEREST. This is where I stumbled upon this amazing recipe.
Its so simple! Simply spread PB on both slices of bread, sprinkle with cinnamon and honey and add slices of bananas between them. Simply allow it all to grill and BAM. An amazing excuse for breakfast, lunch, bedtime snack or whatever you need at the time! 😉
What’s your favorite way to use honey? I have an open jar I’ll have to use now!
When life gets busy, its important to take a step back, get away from the hustle and bustle and go back to your roots. The best way to achieve this is by taking a personal retreat. Retreats mean different things to different people and can be as simple or as involved as you’d like. You don’t have to travel to Borneo by yourself and practice yoga for a week straight. Even just an afternoon at a local coffee shop or library is a great start to a personal retreat.
Working shift work means that I rarely get two days off together and when I get one day off it is usually filled with errands, cleaning, cooking, meetings and miscellaneous other tasks. I am also planning a wedding (52 days!) and this adds even more to the to-do list and I was starting to feel burnt out. The first sign of a need for a retreat!
I’m lucky in the fact that my parents have an amazing property on a gorgeous river about 2 hours away that I am welcome to use any time. This week was the perfect time for that. The plan was set. I’d pack up the pups and a little food and head out of town for two days! Not only is a personal retreat good for me, its also good for the dogs.
There’s just something that an eighth of an acre in the city just can’t give two border collies!
Reasons to Consider Personal Retreats
It’s good for your health
A personal retreat is a great way to stop and listen to your body. Eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired, drink when you’re thirsty. In life we so often are too busy to listen to these cues because we have better things to do. A personal retreat is a great way to get back into a rhythm.
It’s a great way to catch up on the want-to’s
Our lives are full of so many have-to’s that we often don’t have time for all of the want-to’s, which is where personal retreats really shine. What else do you have to do? Now is a great time to paint your nails, catch up on reading and send out a few emails to friends you don’t see enough.
Its a great time to reassess your goals
We’re always pressed to set goals and most of us have them at least in our heads but we rarely get time to put them to paper, let alone reassess them throughout the year to see how we’re doing. I believe in not only setting goals but making small contributions to your goal every single day until you get there. It is oh-so important to revisit these goals and make sure they are (a) still what you truly want and (b) that you’re making measurable steps towards these goals.
You will come back refreshed and ready to take on anything!
We all get in those ruts. Work rut, home rut, relationship rut. Personal retreats are a great way to step back and get away from it all without giving up. Taking some time to recharge will allow you to see these parts of your life in a new light and ignite a new passion within you.
How to Make a Personal Retreat Work for You
Book the time
Mark it on the calendar, set it in stone and don’t let anything stop you. Personal retreats should be just as important in your schedule as a doctor’s appointment or date night. Think of it as an investment in your mental health!
Get a sitter
Whether you have children, pups, or a garden, make sure you have a reliable friend or family member that can take care of everything you need while you’re out for your retreat. This leads to a stress and worry-free break from everything. If you’re like me and know the retreat will be just as beneficial for the dogs as for you, then by all means bring them so long as they don’t cause extra stress.
This week I was lucky enough to have forgotten my cell phone charger at home (along with a bunch of other things). A blessing in disguise. Now as I sit here, on my laptop with a full charge and I still feel slightly disconnected and its good for me! There’s just something about not pushing that little power button to see if anyone missed me.
Have you tried a personal retreat? What are some of your favorite retreat tips?
Life is busy. It can sometimes be overwhelming to step back, look at your life and think about if you’re truly happy. Are you well rested? Is your house as clean as you want it to be? Is your health in a good spot? What about your relationships with friends? This seems like a lot to ask yourself and how can you possible have time to focus on each of these areas and still have time for normal ‘life’ stuff? Working, cooking, shopping, kids’ commitments. It all takes time and there is a way to do it all; Living a life of simplicity.
Simplicity means different things to different people and you don’t have to completely flip your life around in order to see the effects of a simple life. Here are a few small changes you can do now to ease the stress of every day life.
First Thing’s First: Rise Early
This one was a rough one for me. I’m a sleeper. Or I used to be. I had tried the early bird thing cold turkey for a while but I would be groggy, tired and basically non-functional for ages. By then I might as well have slept the extra two hours instead of being mentally useless for four. I had pinned SO many morning tips and articles to Pinterest and had read them all. Nothing was working because I wanted results and I wanted them NOW.
It was only when I started getting up only 15 minutes earlier, then 30, then an hour, that I had started to see better results.
Full disclosure: It all started when I found out that HGTV has Bryan Baeumler on at 8AM every day. That meant I had to get up at at least 7 if I wanted to shower and get coffee and be back in time for ‘my’ show. And then they started playing Sarah Richardson at 7AM. Now I’m up at 615AM to make sure I don’t miss it. Hey. Whatever works.
Open the Curtains and Make the Bed
This tip started to gain some traction a few years ago when studies started showing that simply making your bed has an amazing effect on your mood, outlook and overall feelings about your day. There’s nothing better than crawling into fresh bed at the end of the day or walking into your room in a hurry during the day and seeing a somewhat put-together space!
Eliminate the Unnecessary
Spend a little bit of reflection time and figure out where you spend your time. Use a time logger if you have to. Do you check your phone 200 times a day? Check your Facebook excessively? Update your Instagram every chance you get? Take steps to free your time up for more important things. My phone is set up to only refresh email once an hour. Facebook notifications are turned off and I always keep it on silent in order to not be distracted by constant dings and vibrations.
Once the unnecessary tasks are eliminated, you’d be amazed at how much you can accomplish.
The Importance of Planning
I first started with a ‘life planner’ two years ago. I invested a lot of money on printing an amazing planner from iheartorganizing.com. Its like an extension of my brain (really. If I didn’t have it, I’d be lost). I write everything I need to remember in there and keep it with me at work, home, meetings, and even when we go away for the weekend. The more planning I do, the easier it is for me to plan out my entire week and have less unexpected pop-ups.
We also plan out every meal along with every grocery trip down the the nth degree. We go to our local Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning, followed by a quick run to the grocery store for anything we can’t get at the market. With me working shift work and the fiance working an 8-5, our Saturday mornings are a nice little date. We love supporting local and the meat, bread and cheese is so much tastier.
Meal planning not only eases the stress of ‘what’s for dinner?’ but also has cut down the cost of food immensely since there is next to no waste and we aren’t browsing at the grocery store. Get in. Get out. That’s the plan.
Decide What’s Important
The most important thing about a life of simplicity is taking a step back and deciding what is important to you. PLAN for those things. Write them down. Make them happen. Do you strive to get more time outside? Would you like to do more reading? Do you have a project that has been sitting on the back burner? Schedule it in. Make it off limits. My days off work are just as planned out as my work days. With only two days off a week, you can bet I’m going to spend them doing something I love to do!
That’s my start to a life of simplicity. We make small changes all the time that add to lifestyle and help us find more time for ourselves.
I don’t know about where you are but here on the east coast of Canada, summer is heating up! Now that I’ve been trying to drink more water, I find myself always looking for more infusing techniques for plain old water. There are so many different products you can buy to squirt in your water but have you read the ingredients on those things?! They’re full of sugar, dyes, and preservatives. Its true. Check it out. I’m trying more and more to get away from as many processed foods as possible and finding a way to enjoy my water au-naturel was a logical next step. So I went on a hunt to find the best sources for summer re-hydration on the internet!
Lemon Infused is my Go-to
One thin slice of lemon in my 1L bottle is perfect! It’s my go-to additive to water in the hot summer months. Simple and doesn’t have to infuse for long, if at all! With lemon you can add raspberries, strawberries, blackberries or blue berries to add an extra flavour as well.
Frozen Berries add Flavour and a Cool Touch
The fiance often makes smoothies for breakfast so our freezer has a few bags of frozen berries and peaches. These are a great addition to water! I have very sensitive teeth and can’t drink extremely cold water so I fill my water bottle and leave it out of the fridge an hour or so to ‘warm up’. When I add these frozen berries it cools down my water and adds flavour!
Strawberry Infused Detox Water
I found this recipe care of hercampus.com. I didn’t know if I would like it with the cinnamon but turns out it was a big hit! Strawberries are just coming into season here and I’m looking for any way to use them intentionally and savour them. Living this far north means that our growing season for all produce is extremely short so when we get the opportunity to buy/eat/support local we take it!
Watermelon Coconut Ice Cubes
I found this amazing recipe here. When I read the title my mouth literally watered. I had to try it right away! What’s great about this recipe is that not only does it infuse your water more as it melts, it also cools it down. Watermelon has a sweet, almost subtle taste to it which makes it so much easier to get your daily intake in!
Herb Infused Water
Many herbs make a great addition to water. My favorite is fresh mint from my herb garden, used with any of the above fruit combinations. Lemon, mint and strawberries is a great one- especially with my strawberry mint leaves! I’ve heard that sage makes another great additive with blackberries. Once blackberries come into season here (usually around mid-August) I’ll have to try that one out!
Leave me a note to let me know what infused-water recipes you turn to to get your water in!
I have a mental list of skills I want to master on my quest to be a ‘real’ homesteader. On the top of that list is canning. But if I’m going to be honest, it scares me a little. Sterilizing, boiling, high pressure. So much can go wrong! But there’s just something about being able to save fruits and veggies that you worked so hard to grow that makes it worth trying. I just can’t bear the thought of these little plants growing in my backyard for months only to be eaten over the course of three weeks and then waiting for next year. I decided to try the easiest form of canning early in the season to get my feet wet: freezer jam!
Choosing a Recipe and Jars
I decided to try the easiest recipe first: the recipe on the back of the Bernardin freezer jam pectin package! Hey, they must know what they’re doing, right?!
I’m planning my wedding and using mason jars for the wedding favors- what a great excuse to buy more! So I go to the local hardware store and buy them out of mason jars- 168 jars to be exact. I grab a few packages of freezer jam pectin and head to the cash. I’m all giddy and excited to make jam. Strawberries have recently come into season here and they are amazing. I get to the cash and the middle-aged cashier says to me “You know they call that ‘cheater’s jam’, right?”
Way to kill my homestead buzz!
But I pay for my mason jars and I’m on my way, none too perturbed.
Freezer Jam Recipe Prep
The recipe was simple enough. One and half cups of sugar, the package of pectin and four cups of mashed strawberries. Easy enough. Now up here in Canada today is a holiday and I did a mental check of ingredients to make sure I had enough before the stores closed: pectin, check! Strawberries, 2 quarts should do it. A cup and a half of sugar: of course I have sugar, why wouldn’t I?!
Well it was close!
I pull out my sugar bin and had not a grain more than a cup and a half. Dodged that bullet!
I wash and hull all the strawberries and chop them into a little bit smaller pieces for mashing. Go to my kitchen drawer. No masher. Are you kidding? Just when I think I’m an adult, life hits me again. Who has owned a house for three and a half years and not bought a potato masher? This gal. But I’m not one to back down. I grab two forks and hope for the best.
Have you ever tried to mash four cups of strawberries with nothing but two forks? I have. Its not fun. But I was determined! After the two quarts were completely mashed they smelled so good and I was so anxious to try them!
In order for the sugar and pectin to work properly you have to stir them together with the mashed berries for three minutes. Simple enough, I thought. Naively. I read on The Homesteading Hippy that it is important to set a timer for those important three minutes or you will underestimate it greatly. I’ve never known how long three minutes is until I had to stir a thick jam for three minutes.
I put the jam into the jars, leaving a little room in the top for it to settle and let them sit for a half hour. I couldn’t resist trying a taste before putting it in the freezer and oh boy! I’m looking forward to using this jam throughout the year! Nothing is better than fresh jam on homemade bread- which is also on my homesteading skills list. But that’s a job for another day!
Its the first thing doctors, fitness experts and general health gurus will tell you to do to better your body, mind and spirit: Drink more water! If you’re like me, that is easier said than done. My usual day consisted of getting up, drinking a large timmies and that’s it. I might have a sip or two of water if we go out to dinner or if I have an exceptionally hot supper but other than that my entire water intake would have been my morning coffee. And on a busy day that may have even sat half-finished!
I have a degree in biology and work in the animal industry. I know how important water is. I know the effects of dehydration and how quick they can hit. I just didn’t have the time to drink more water. Or so I told myself.
Two weeks ago I made the decision to make an intentional effort to drink my 64 ounces of water a day (eight 8-ounce glasses).
My water bottle is an adorable, over-priced one-liter bottle in pink but hey, if it makes me happy and reminds me to drink more, all the better. I consider it an investment! And just look at how cute it is!
Realizations of a Water-drinking Girl
Using the washroom every hour is such a waste of time! Seriously. Do you know how much I could accomplish if I wasn’t getting up and going to the bathroom every hour?!
Its really disappointing that coffee doesn’t count towards my daily water intake (or at least I don’t count it). That being said, my craving for coffee in the morning has greatly diminished. I’ve actually started to get a small coffee on the mornings I work because anything bigger goes to waste as I try to get to my water.
I started with this habit on the first day of a two day stretch off work. This made it easier to achieve my goals early on and ease into the habit when I returned to work.
Leaving the cap off my water bottle makes it so much easier to convince myself to take a swig. Literally. That’s how lazy I am. But hey, at least I own it and know my weaknesses!
My First Look at Life with More Water
I’ve noticed much more hydrated skin and lips (and much worse chapped lips if I’m slacking on my intake!)
I have a much clearer mind, better memory and much better focus. Sometimes this is a challenge as I’ll get so focused on a task that I forget to drink.
I’ve noticed a much more in-control appetite. I can go completely from one meal to another without cravings and a growling stomach.
The foods that I infuse my water with really kick down the cravings. Craving sweets? Throw some strawberries in your water! Such an easy fix!
I am/was very prone to headaches and migraines which I had never experienced before working indoors. This is one of the biggest symptoms of dehydration and was causing a lot of strain to my everyday life. Since I’ve started drinking water I haven’t experienced a headache yet (knock on wood).
I haven’t been drinking water long enough to feel its full benefits but I will keep you all posted! Stay tuned for my post about my favorite infusion techniques!
What do you do to make sure you’re getting your required H2O?
Every Sunday when I do my meal planning, I open the freezer and say the same thing to myself: “Oh yeah, those banana’s are in there!” I’m sure many of you have the same ritual: buy bananas for snack for the week, let them get too ripe, throw them in the freezer in a desperate attempt to not let them go to waste. This is a common occurrence at our house! So this past Sunday when I opened the freezer and saw that we were up to eight bananas I knew there had to be something done. Something sweet!
Although I have an amazing banana bread recipe given to me by my father (who is a baker by trade) I was craving something else. So I turned to the almighty Pinterest to narrow down my search based on what I already had in my cupboard. Have I mentioned how much I absolutely LOVE my baking cupboard?!
My mother did it for me for Christmas and I adore it!
From Pinterest I stumbled onto this recipe from Gimmesomeoven.com and it looked amazing! Now I’ve been stung by the Pinterest bumble bee before (ever seen Pinterest Fails? Yea, that’s me most of the time). But this one was an amazing winner!
It was only a few super simple ingredients whisked together quickly and baked for 8 minutes- talk about getting your fix quick!
My balls of dough were much stickier and not as well formed as they were on the original post’s partly because I hand-mixed my recipe but also because I used two bananas instead of the allotted one and didn’t increase the dry ingredients to make up for it.
Simply press them down with a fork to get the cute peanut-butter cookie look and pop them in the oven!
Before the oven
And there you have it! You can play around with the cooking time and dough-ball size to get the consistency you want. I myself could eat raw cookie dough until the cows come home so I kept them on the raw side and they were delicious!
What are some of your favorite ways to use up ripe bananas?
After planting my herb seedlings out back last week I’ve done nothing but try and find the perfect recipes to use them all on! How do you choose just one? What if it’s not good? You don’t want to end up wasting them! After all they’re basically like gold! Garlic chives were the first on my list to demolish… err. I mean… sample.
After much searching and ruling out the recipes that the fiance won’t eat, I had settled on this one from AllRecipes.com. This is one of my favorite sites to find recipes because they also have ratings and a comment section for each recipe which makes it so much easier to make small adjustments based on your tastes without ruining a batch (or three).
The ingredients included chicken, cream, milk, parmesan cheese, and granulated mustard. Yes that’s right. Mustard. Now I am a big fan of all things flavour but the fiance on the other hand. Not so much. He’s only just taken to the idea. This would be interesting.
The milk, cream, garlic, flour and mustard made an amazing sauce.
Next came the chicken and noodles. The chives were stirred in just after cutting to bring it all together!
Check out the Allrecipes link to get the full recipe and try it for yourself. The mustard, in my opinion was a great addition to the whole thing. It really went well with the dairy-based sauce and sharp parmesan taste.
Best of all?! The fiance loved it! Or rather, he didn’t hate it! Which is a win in my books!
Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think!