Sunday, March 15, 2015

Happiness is Homemade Linky Party is Live!

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Friday, March 13, 2015

My First Fairy Garden!


Yesterday was a very special day.  My oldest daughter, and 1st born, turned 29. I can't believe I have a 29 year old child! Where did the time go?? It seems like such a short time ago that she was born. I still have vivid memories of her birth, our stay in the hospital, bringing her home and all the trepidation of being a brand new mom with a brand new baby.  Now, after 5 babies, and into my journey as a grandparent, I'm finding that what they say about time going by faster as you get older really is true!
I wanted to make my daughter something for her special day, and have been wanting to make a fairy garden for some time, so combined the 2 wants to make my 1st fairy garden for her!
A couple of weeks ago I had found a bunch of little houses at the 2nd hand store, and on a whim, bought all of them with the intention of using them in fairy gardens.  So, I had the beginnings already.


Next, I purchased a container to build the garden in. I chose a plastic 'terra cotta' pot that is low and wide. Then, found 3 plants that would suit the 'decor'. I chose a peppermint plant and a curry plant. Then added a succulent.


I also found these little mushrooms to add.




The dollar store was a great source for the stones, sand and glass pebbles. I bought a bag of potting soil and picked the moss on one of my walks with the dogs. Here on the west coast moss is abundant in the woods.
I filled the pot with the soil and then added the plants, making sure the root balls were covered and well seated.


Next, I pulled the moss into pieces the right size to fit around the plants and tucked it in, pressing it down into the soil.


I left the part where I wanted to set up the fairy house and what I call 'the beach' bare.  This is the fun part! Adding the little house and deciding how it should all fit together is what makes it a fairy garden. I wanted my house nestled into the moss, with the front looking out onto a sandy beach with what would be the water.  I placed the house in and tucked some moss around it. The blue sand went in next, followed by the blue glass and then more blue sand. I used a dark grey sand for the beach and trickled it up the walk way of the house to tie it in. The little mushrooms, stones and brown glass were placed around the plants and moss to add interest.




I was pretty pleased with the end results. My daughter liked it too!
I have  4 more little houses still to use and am already planning out my next fairy garden.  It was such a fun little project and not at all difficult to put together.  I'll be keeping my eyes open for little bits and pieces to add to the next ones. Things like little bugs, animals, furniture, bridges....they don't have to be made specifically to use in a fairy garden. I think using things you find that aren't meant for this make it more unique and personal.  I know I've seen little glass bridges meant for a gold fish bowl or aquarium,  butterflies meant for flower arrangements, doll house furniture and accessories.  Half the fun is the search for things you can add.
I'd really love to hear about the gardens you've created. What did you use?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Homemade Vanilla Flavoured Coffee Creamer


A few weeks ago I did a post on recipes using sweetened condensed milk and included my own recipe for making your own SCM. While searching for recipes to use it with I found several versions of homemade coffee creamers which called for a can of SCM. The canned version is a bit pricey, and in the end it would probably be cheaper to buy the flavoured creamers ready made.  But, as most of us know, the kind you buy is full of all kinds of chemicals and has absolutely nothing your body needs in it. So, I decided to try making a batch of coffee cream, using my SCM recipe.
My recipe for sweetened condensed milk has only 5 ingredients in it, one of which is water. Let's whip up a batch!

Put on the kettle to boil the water needed (1/3 cup) and gather the other ingredients while it heats.
You will need :
1/3 cup boiling water
1 cup of powdered milk 
a pinch of salt
2/3 of a cup of white sugar
and 3 tablespoons of melted butter, margarine, or coconut oil ( I used coconut oil in the recipe).

Put all the dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl. When the water is boiled,  measure the 1/3 cup needed and then add the melted butter, margarine or coconut oil to the water. Then add it to the dry ingredients. Use a whisk and mix it up really well. It will be thick, just like the store-bought kind.


Next, add 1 and a 1/2 cups of milk ( we use 1%, so that's what I used ) and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract to the sweetened condensed milk. Mix well. Pour it into a container to keep in the fridge.  I used a wipe off marker to write the date I made it on the bottle so I would know how old it was later on.  It will keep in the fridge for as long as your milk will. If the milk you use expires in a day or 2, you might want to get a fresh jug to make this with.  Make sure to shake it up before each use.
Don't you just love the little bottle I used? I found these at Winners filled with hot chocolate mix. I got 3 of them in different hot chocolate flavours for Zac for Christmas. He enjoys the hot chocolate, and I get the cute bottles! It's a win-win!


I have to say, it is delicious! Way better than the store bought, full of chemicals version. I have a few more ideas for other varieties, so stay tuned for more!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Happiness is Homemade Link Party!


In case your week has been crazy busy like mine, you may have missed the HUGE giveaway on APIMP:
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Fresh Versus Frozen Veggies-Which is Better For You?


It's March. What's growing in your garden? If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, probably not much. In a month or 2, if you grow a vegetable garden, you will probably be planting seeds, digging, weeding...and then later in the summer, harvesting your fresh home grown goodies! It's a wonderful thing to be able to grow your own food. You know exactly how it was grown. It's probably organic. Or, maybe you are one of those people who love to head out to the Farmer's Market on the weekends and grab the fresh produce sold there to feed your family on for the week.
Eating fresh produce is usually considered to be the best way to get your required serving of fruits and veggies. And in the summer months we don't have too many problems getting it fresh.  If you buy local and in season produce, from local farmers and growers, you are pretty much guaranteed that you are getting the best.
During the winter months though, when the fields and trees are buried in snow, it comes down to buying what the grocery stores offer. Have you ever stopped to think where the produce in the grocery store came from? Or how it got to the store? Where did those bananas come from? Or the zucchini and lettuce? Obviously, they have had to travel from some other region to get to your grocery store produce aisles. In order for these 'fresh' foods to get to the store, they were picked before they reached their peak. In other words, they weren't ripe when they were harvested. And because they weren't ripe, they had not yet reached their full allotment of vitamins and minerals. While the fruit or veggie will look like it is ripe and ready to eat, it was actually denied it's full growing time so was also denied reaching it's full potential for goodness.  What you are buying in the store is not really as nutritious as you think. And as people in general do not eat the recommended 9 servings a day (most people eat 3) of fruits and veggies we are getting even less of the vitamins and minerals we 'think' we are getting.


So, how do you make sure you are giving your family the most bang for your buck?  What are the other options? Well, there is canned. And you can can your own vegetables from your garden. Unfortunately, the only produce that doesn't lose a bunch of nutrients in the canning process are tomatoes and pumpkin. ( Thanks goodness we can depend on our canned tomatoes! ) But what about the others? Buying frozen, or freezing your own home grown veggies, is your best bet. Produce bought frozen has the highest concentration of nutrients still intact.  The freezing process is begun when the produce is picked at it's peak ripeness. Already it has it's full potential for nutrition.  Then is it quickly blanched in boiling water or steam to kill any bacteria and stop any degrading. Although there is a small amount of vitamin C and B lost during this process, it is much less than what would be lost in canning or if the produce had not ripened fully.  Freezing keeps the majority of the 'good stuff' in the vegetables and fruit, so you get more when you eat them.


Your best bet for frozen veggies are carrots, broccoli and leafy greens. Don't store them too long in your freezer-use them up! When it comes time to cook them, the microwave is great. Or boil a small amount of water in a pot, add the veggies, cover, bring to a boil and then drain. Don't over cook them.
Not only are frozen vegetables your best bet for winter time, they are also convenient and versatile! I find that I use them year round for convenience. I waste less because I only use what I need when I need it and it's not forgotten in my fridge crisper drawer, getting wilted and sad looking, destined for the compost pile.
Here is a link to 25 Ways to Use Frozen Mixed Vegetables which may inspire you to buy and use frozen.  And another link to 15 Ways to Prepare Frozen Broccoli, which is one of the best vegetables to buy frozen.
If you haven't tried frozen, or have always thought fresh was better, I encourage you to try give them a whirl! You may even find it saves you money! Look for sales, interesting varieties and get creative!