monday, monday

I’ve got the Monday blues and I just can’t shake’em. Maybe it’s the weather- grey and gloomy. Maybe I need a good dose of Vitamin D. Feeling a little like Charlie Brown. “Of all the Charlie Browns, you’re the Charlie Browniest” – Linus Van Pelt

Anyhow, in the spirit of last week’s healthier cookies, and in an effort to cheer myself up, I made some of my favs: Raw-Raw Truffles from Adam Hart’s cookbook The Power of Food. I can’t tell you how much I love this book. Hart shares an inspiring story as to how he has come to lead a healthy and happy life. He seems honest and real and that’s important to me. Not only are his recipes completely mouth watering, but he provides so much information on the health benefits of eating certain foods. And I love the layout of this book as it showcases each “power food” in sections, discussing its benefits and featuring a selection of recipes in which it can be enjoyed.

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This is the variation of the “Raw-Raw Brownie” recipe listed in the book. Hart suggests that the mixture can be rolled into small balls to make truffles. He also suggests rolling those balls in shredded coconut. Any time I’ve made these truffles, I used cocoa powder instead of the cacao powder he lists. Can’t get my hands on any cacao powder in these parts. But I imagine mine are just as delicious!

Ingredients:

2 cups pitted dates, chopped

1/2 cup of almond butter

2 tablespoons of water

3 tablespoons of cacao powder (or, like me, cocoa powder)

some shredded coconut

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Oh, and did I mention this is the easiest recipe of all time? There’s no baking!

It goes like this:

1. mix all ingredients in a food processor

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2. roll batter into small balls

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3. rolls small balls in some shredded coconut

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4. keep in a container in the fridge, leaving them for about an hour before you dive in!

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and that’s that :)

I usually get around 18-20 truffles, depending on how big I make them. These are protein packed treats that hit the spot when I’m craving something sweet after supper.

Hope you love them like I do. And check out Adam Hart’s website for The Power of Food and other tasty recipes and tips!

c is for cookie….and chickpeas!

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That’s right. Cookies made of chickpeas that taste the yummiest.

I was at a friend of mine’s on Sunday night and she presented me with these beauties. She was given this recipe by a coworker who I will ever be grateful for, though I’ve never met her. It’s obviously awesome that these aren’t so bad for you, but they also have all the delicious buttery chewiness of a Tollhouse or Pillsbury cookie.

You have to try these.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 Cup of Chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix all of these ingredients- except chocolate chips- in a food processor. Once all mixed, fold in the chocolate chips. Form each cookie by scooping out a generous tablespoon’s worth. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Should make about 18-20 cookies. Bake at 350° for 12 mins.

Just delicious.

I’m crossing my fingers for a snow day tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be nasty, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to tuck in with my book, coffee and a batch of these cookies!

hope you’re enjoying your week :)

books, books and more books

Good ol’ Friday! Nothing like it.

Coffee tastes more delicious on a Friday. Cleaning the house feels so satisfying on a Friday. Sushi and wine tastes like heaven on a Friday. Any guesses as to what I’ll be doing on this fine Friday? ;)

the yard 2A few months back, I mentioned a series of books I was eager to read by Alex Grecian. The Yard, book one, takes place a year or so after Jack the Ripper wreaked havoc in London (late 1880’s). Scotland Yard has lost the respect of Londoners, as the Ripper was never caught, and killings by other killers are on the rise. In an effort to solve the crimes and win back the trust of the people, Scotland Yard assembles a Murder Squad, made up some of the best detectives on the force. Things take a turn for the worst, however, when one of their own detectives is found dead.

This is a gripping read that introduces some charming characters. Fast paced and clever, this is a book you’ll want to read on a low key Sunday.

the black countryWhile you’re sitting there on that quiet Sunday, ya may as well keep going with the second book, The Black Country In this story, the characters you’ve come to like so much venture into the English countryside, to a small town where strange occurrences are afoot. The detectives are puzzled, not only by the disappearance of a young boy, but by a peculiar illness that’s overcoming the townspeople. This book felt a lot darker than the first, and makes some interesting parallels to historical events. Another book that’s worth the read.

Now I wait, impatiently, for the third book, The Devil’s Workshop to be released in May.

The Sisters BrothersWhile we’re on the topic of good books, it’s time to talk about an amazing book. A book that’s dark, witty and hilarious: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt . This is up there in my top five favourite books- no question. Eli and Charlie Sisters are two brothers, on the road to kill a man. They’re hit-men who’ve been hired to do the job, which takes them from their life in Oregon City to Sacramento, California. Along the way, they find themselves in some sticky situations and run in to some pretty curious individuals. Did I mentioned this is a Western, set in the 1850’s? Amazing.

jo nesboNow for my current read that comes highly recommended by my dear ol’ Dad, The Bat by Jo Nesbo.  I’m only a chapter in, but here’s what I know: this book is the first of eight in a series about Norwegian detective Harry Hole. This series has been around for quite some time but I’ve heard it has only recently been published in English. Like I said, it’s gotten high praise from Pops, and was given good reviews by some of the UK papers I read online. I’ll keep you posted!

So there we go. Some books to check out if they strike you!

 

I would love to hear your thoughts on these reads. Drop me a line!

enjoy your day,

xo jess

 

 

recycled wreath

Happy Hump Day!

It’s Wednesday, and it’s been a slow week on the substitute teaching front. On the bright side, I’ve been able to get some stuff done that I’ve been neglecting over the last couple of weeks.

ImageOne such thing: the last of the house de-Christmasing.

We get our Christmas tree at a local tree farm. It’s a great family-run operation, selling not only trees, but also fresh eggs and crafts. This year, the owner’s 10-ish year old son was selling wreaths he made, himself. We obviously had to buy one! Too sweet!

Now that the holidays are over, I hate to take it down. It still looks so fresh and beautiful, so I decided to do a quick bow switch to make it a winter wreath.

Here are the ten easy steps it took to make a lovely new bow:

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Step 1: Choose a wide ribbon. I found this sparkly blue stuff at the dollar store! It’s 4.5″x 3 yards and I bought two rolls. I also picked up some more narrow ribbon just for an added touch.

Step 2 and 3: Leaving a lengthy end piece, I folded over your ribbon into flaps. Think of it like a fan, with the flaps gradually increasing in size.

flap 2 should be a little bigger than flap 1

flap 3 a little bigger than flap 2

flaps 3 & 4 are the same size

flap 5 the same size as flap 2

flap 6 the same size as flap 1

make sure to leave a length of ribbon after the last flap!

ImageStep 4: Once I had finished my flap fan, I pinched them at the end and secured them with a twist-tie.

Step 5: Next came fluffing them up!

Step 6: I repeated the steps and made another flap fan! I held them together at their twist-tied sections and…..

ImageStep 7: ……. added a length of the complimentary ribbon. Holding it in place, I secured both fans and the extra ribbon in place by twisting together the two existing twist ties ( that’s a tongue twister!)

Step 8: Now came some more fluffing.

Step 9: I trimmed the ends, eye-balling each one as I held up the bow.

Step 10: Attach the bow to the wreath with some wire or… you guessed it, another twist tie!

And she’s done!

sweet and simple

Imageenjoy your day

xo jess

Friday Fun Times

ImageWhat do you get when you mix 8 friends, a Friday night, the odd beverage and a flip-chart? Only the best time playing “Win, Lose or Draw!” Break out the Sharpies and settle in for some challenging and hilarious rounds of the game.

Not sure how to play? Check out these instructions

We did things a little differently and downloaded the free Win, Lose or Droid App on our Nexus Tablet. This is an awesome app that generates the game words for you and keeps track of time. It also lets you set the level of difficulty for the game, which is great for when you want to crank up the competition!

  If you’re looking for a fun way to spend a Friday night with friends, look no further!

I promise, this’ll be a hit ;)

xo jess

New Year, New Approach

Happy New Year!

It’s January, and like every January in my twenty-somethings years, I make goals. Well, it’s probably more accurate to say that I revisit the goals I made last year, and carry them forward to this year. What’s different each year, however, is the level of frustration I feel when I realize I didn’t plan my meals, loose 15 pounds, read x-number of books or find a new hobby.

New Year’s Resolutions. What gives? Why don’t we work well together?

Maybe my brain is just tired of rehashing the same stuff over and over again. Maybe it needs new inspirations and a new approach to get motivated for a new year.

So, 2014. For you, I won’t make a list of all the things I will/won’t do.

For you, I will only commit to being kind to myself. No expectations to maintain other than health and happiness.

No goal weight. No unrealistic money budgeting. No schedules to follow.

Instead, I’ll work on feeling good. We all have different ingredients in the recipe that makes our best self.  For me, those ingredients include regular exercise, eating well when I can, maintaining positive relationships and living within my financial means.

So, let’s see how this goes!

Hoping this new approach will lead to the best year yet!

xo jess

tire tracks on our street this morning

tire tracks on our street this morning

full steam ahead…cabin progress

Happy Friday!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. The last couple of weeks have been just. so. busy.

We’ve made quite a bit of progress with the cabin.

In my last cabin related post, we had just finished putting in the floor.

Since then, we’ve painted two coats of damp proofing on the concrete foundation, and put foam insulation on the outside of that foundation. An excavator then came and backfilled the trench around the foundation wall, securing the weeping tile in place. Next, he dug out the driveway leading into the cabin’s basement, and in it spread a layer of crushed stone. A couple of days later, the sono-tubes were dug for the extension we’re putting on the back of the cabin (an afterthought during some of the design phase/ after the foundation had been poured). The tubes were put in place and on the wettest Sunday of the year, Pete, Dad and I mixed and poured the Quickcrete into them. Why would we pour concrete during torrential rains, you may ask? Well, the sono-tubes are made of thick cardboard. When they were installed, the ground was already very wet, and the cardboard began to absorb the moisture. Getting the concrete in them asap was a priority, as we didn’t want the tubes to become soft and buckle. With a beautiful weather forecast guiding us, we decided to do the work on Sunday. Sunday came, the weather was great, and we made the drive to the country. Just as we were getting ourselves organized, the blackest clouds parked overhead and it began to sheet rain. The pressure was on! A couple of hours later, we were drenched, but our solid, sturdy pillars were done!

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Next on the agenda for the cabin: winterize. We’re planning on building a teepee style frame to put over the floor, to prevent water and snow build up.  The weather here is unpredictable, so we have to take advantage of the mild days to get this work done.

Looking forward to the cold days when we can sit in front of the blazing woodstove in our cozy cabin.

Jess

Beautiful Apple Butter

The perfect topper on toast for the season. Or eat a spoonful after supper as the little something sweet to top off your meal. Apple butter is just delicious.

Here’s how I made my butter:

apple collage

1. I paired some flavourless Gala apples ( I like Galas, but this batch was off) with some very flavourful Macintosh apples. I used 9 apples in total.

2. I coarsely chopped the apples and cooked them in the crockpot on high for 3- 3.5 hours.

3. The apples were quick to brown, and I stirred them about every half an hour. When I noticed the apples were sticking a little to the crockpot, I added about a 1/4 cup of water.

4. The apples softened to a point that I was able to mash them with a spoon. This was at the 3 hour mark, but my crockpot seems to be hotter than most, so you may have to give them a little more time.

5. I then transferred the mashable apples into the food processor. I processed them until the were a completely pureed sauce, much like the consistency of baby food.

6. With the temperature still set to High, I poured the apple sauce back in to the crockpot. I kept the lid off so that the butter would thicken.

7. I added a few little ingredients just to enhance some of the apple flavours.  1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1.5 tablespoons of brown sugar, and a 1/4 of a teaspoon of cinnamon.

You may want to add a little more sugar, depending on the sweetness of the apples you use. I tasted the butter after adding the 1.5 tablespoons, and decided not to put in any more, as it was sweet enough. Judge according to your own preference!

I let the butter thicken for about 25 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.

8. I turned the crockpot off and ladled the butter into a mason jar. With my nine apples, I was able to fill one mason jar completely, with roughly a tablespoon remaining.

I let the butter cool before putting the lid on the jar.

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And that’s it!

A tasty way enjoy apples over the next couple of months.

Hope you like it :)

Jess

Friday Fun Times

This past Friday night, the weather was the pits. Steady rain and cold. So, Pete and I decided to invite some friends over for a good old-fashioned Bingo night! And it was hilarious.

I went to some thrift shops and picked up the strangest/most random items I could find to use as prizes. Things like:

  • a drinking cup with a removable rubber thong and lower back tattoo
  • a candle in the shape of a bundle of asparagus
  • a heinous murky coloured tie with old fashioned shoes patterned on it
  • a “Non-Stop Christmas Dance Party” techno cd, featuring a woman on the cover that looked a lot like Lydia from “Beetlejuice.”

and the pièce de résistance… a figurine we dubbed “Dog-Child” as it had the body of a dog, and head of a child, all white in colour with no pupils. It was pretty creepy!

We used a Bingo set I thrifted for $2.99 (!), and created a few rules to mix it up a bit. I had wrapped up all of the prizes, and everyone had to keep their prize wrapped until they had all been won. If you won a prize, you could trade it for someone else’s more curious looking prize. You could also trade in your prize for a second Bingo card.

I highly recommend a night like this-we had so many laughs! Such a great way to spend a Friday night with friends.

Looking forward to the next Bingo night.

Jess

Sunday’s Simple Cake

We’re celebrating my sister’s birthday this evening, and I’m bringing the cake :)

I decided to make Martha Stewart’s Velvet Cocoa Cake with Instant Buttercream, which was a huge hit when I made it a few weeks ago for friends! It’s easy to make, but more importantly, it’s darn delicious. With a kind of fudgy density, this luscious cake will forever be filed in my “go-to desserts” folder!

 
mmm still love licking the beaters!