Monthly Archives: September 2014

Our new media area!

Well, I’ve been shuffling around the apartment again!  And by that I mean moving things around the apartment (as opposed to walking around without picking up my feet).  I find that working within a limited amount of space and trying to fit in a whole bunch of uses turns me into a bit of a brunette Goldilocks – it all has to be not too much, not too little, and fit just right – which means lots of thinking, re-thinking, and usually a few different designs before I find the right one.  This is another one of those moments.  It’s still sort of in progress, but I wanted to share with you all where we are thus far!

You might already know how much I love hotels and hotel rooms – they have so many little luxuries that I want to bring into our home!  The fluffy towels, the collection of pillos… and I certainly wouldn’t mind someone else cleaning the entire place and changing our linens every day, but that’s a different topic.  For now, our bedroom is well on its way to becoming like a cute little hotel room.  Yay!

First, we decided to move the TV into the bedroom.  I know, this is a touchy subject for a lot of people, but for us it’s worked out much better.  We rarely used it when guests were over, so we decided to make the living area more conversation-oriented, and this way, we can watch movies while snuggled up in bed (which has always been a special luxury when we stayed at hotels).  We realized that putting the bed up against the southern wall of the room meant we could move the dressers, and that they would make a perfect TV stand!  It’s still very much a work in progress, since we’re planning on mounting some wall shelves around the TV instead of just stacking up the old TV stand and some decorative bins, but we’re getting there, bit by bit.

Another favourite feature of hotel rooms for me is the coffee/sitting nook.  We decided to replicate that here by bringing in our Poang chairs into the bedroom, facing the TV.  Now we can comfortably recline in them to watch TV if we wish, but you might also notice the cute little black bar fridge next to them.  Currently we’ve been using that to keep drinks nearby, but our plan is to pop a sweet coffee machine on top of it, and keep milk/cream, waters, and some snacks in there.  It’ll be just like the mini-fridge in hotel rooms, but without paying $5 for a bottle of water 🙂 Another little luxury is that on a lazy weekend morning, we’ll be able to make a delicious cup of coffee to enjoy in bed without even leaving the room… so cozy!

There will be more later on where the drumset ended up, and what’s happened to the living area, but for now this is what the bedroom looks like.  What do you guys think?  And how do you feel about TV’s in the bedroom?

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Just in case you haven’t heard of this miracle in a jar…

Coconut oil!  Beautiful, gorgeous, luxurious, natural coconut oil… is there any blogger or pinner who hasn’t heard of this amazing product and how it’s basically the Swiss army knife of the beauty and personal care world?   I remember when (back in the 90s and early 00s) coconut was so exotic and rare, we barely ever took it home from the supermarket, and coconut water, milk, and especially oil were very rare to find in anyone’s home (or so it seemed, anyway).  Well, I too have been amazed, it’s become a staple in our home, and so I’m here to share some of my favourite uses for this miracle.

Oil Pulling

Coconut oil is one of the best to use for oil pulling, which is a great and easy way to detoxify your entire body – just swish around a spoonful of oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes, then rinse well and brush if you’d like!  I haven’t fully gotten into the habit of doing it every day, since it takes about 20 minutes to do it effectively, but when I did it for even 10 minutes a day for several weeks, I noticed a marked improvement in my teeth and gums.

Chocolate Truffles

This was something I discovered on the maintenance phase of HCG.  If I melt together equal parts cocoa powder, and a blend of half butter half coconut oil, then sweeten to taste, it makes amazing homemade chocolate.  I like to make this and mix it with some peanut butter or almond butter in an ice cube tray, which makes delicious Reese cups tasting treats!

Hair Smoothing Serum

First, let me tell you about my hair so you understand how amazing this has become for me.  My hair has fine strands, but a LOT of strands, so it’s very dense, and very thick with body, and curly/wavy.  It’s basically a lion’s mane on top of my head, so it needs to be tamed regularly.  I’ve used lots of treatments, leave-ins, and serums in order to try and fight some of the frizz, but nothing has worked as well as coconut oil.  It smoothes my hair and leaves it with just a hint of tropical scent, without feeling greasy at all.

Body Moisturizer

Oh, this… is amazing.  I’ve seen lots of fun body butter recipes using coconut oil (and I will try some of them), but I’ve just been using it plain, straight from the jar.  After a bath or shower, I rub my fingers along the top of the solid oil, and then massage the now melted oil all over my body.  It is such a gorgeous experience, and leaves my skin feeling amazingly smooth and soft, and it absorbs well so it’s not greasy or oily feeling at all.  The coconut smell isn’t too powerful either, it is just the perfect kiss of sweet scent, and I feel like I’ve just had a luxurious spa cream applied.

There are myriad more uses for this magic elixir (cooking, baking, facial cleanser, etc.) but these are the ones that so far I’ve tried and loved.

What are your favourite ways to use coconut oil?

 

Creamy Beet Fettuccine

Hello, sweet friends!  I’ve got a fun and a little unexpected recipe for you today – creamy beet fettuccine.  I know, I know…. huh? beets & pasta…. huh?  I was a little caught off guard by this one as well when I first saw it here on A Beautiful Mess, but I figured it was a small risk, and I like beets, and I love pasta, and it was pink!

This made a beautiful meal that was both pleasing to the eye and the taste buds – it had the delicious flavours of the unexpected, kind of like trying something like salted caramel or Chicago style popcorn for the first time.  It also came together in less than half an hour, which is perfect for a busy weeknight dinner.  Here it is, with a few tweaks because I rarely follow a recipe exactly as outlined 🙂

Creamy Beet Fettuccine (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fettuccine
  • ½ cup finely chopped beets
  • 1 small onion (or dried minced onion)
  • 5 cloves garlic (or corresponding amount of pre-minced garlic in a jar)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • ⅓ cup ricotta cheese
  • juce of ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil (or about ½ tbsp dried)
  • salt & pepper

Directions

  1. Scurb, peel (or don’t), and chop the beets finely.  Pro tip: wear disposable gloves to avoid staining your hands, or you’ll look like you’ve been finger painting with bright fuschia for a few days.  Finely chop the onion and garlic as well (or be lazy like me and just use dried minced onion and pre-minced garlic)
  2. Cook the fettuccine al dente.
  3. Preheat a large pan (I use my wok) over medium heat.  Add the butter and oil to the pan.
  4. Saute the onion in the pan for about 2 minutes – it starts getting delicious and fragrant here.
  5. Add the garlic and beets, cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked, drained pasta, with or without a bit of the pasta water.  Mix it all well, and the pasta will adopt a beautiful pink hue.
  7. Plate the dish, and top with lemon juice, basil, ricotta cheese, and salt & pepper.  I serve it with the ricotta in a dollop on top, but then mix it in right away before I eat, which makes for a deliciously creamy dish!

Pretty easy, right?  I know it might sound (and look) a little odd, but trust me, this is an amazing flavour combination.  My husband said it reminded him of pad thai, and loved it!  It’s rare that he loves a vegetarian dish, so I’m considering that a win!

Tried any unusual recipes lately?  Or do you like to drop the beet? (Sorry, couldn’t resist) 🙂

 

Naturally Lovely: Homemade Linen Spray with Essential Oils

Hello, dear friends!  Well, here we go, jumping into a new season.  Summer is drawing to a close, which always saddens me a bit, but autumn comes with its own joys.  There’s a crisp freshness in the air, and thoughts of beautiful new notebooks and fresh supplies dance in our heads.  The perennial favourite Starbucks drink, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, has made its appearance, and I’ve noticed Halloween candy lining store shelves (far too soon, in my opinion).  Often with all of these fresh starts comes a renewed resolve for improvements and goals, and I’ve been getting into some good habits over the summer that I’m now carrying into my full-time routine.

One of these is using essential oils.  I’ve been seeing them all over the internet since the spring, but didn’t really try anything myself until the summer, and now I’m loving them and trying to find all kinds of different ways to use essential oils!  I love the idea of using as much naturally sourced as possible around the home and on my body, and the cost savings are fantastic as well!  So as I try different little recipes and uses that I like, I’ll be sharing them with you guys 🙂

Which brings me to today’s topic – linen & fabric spray.  This is an item that I never really thought about, but then it grew on me.  I first took note of it when I was at a hotel and a little lavender linen spray was included in the little satchel with shampoo, shoe polish, etc. It was nice to spritz on the bed, but I didn’t really think much of it.  Well, a little while went by and I started to like the idea of adding a linen freshening spray to my evening routine getting ready for bed – except that most linen sprays I saw had lots of chemicals that I didn’t really want to lie in.

Then out of the blue, one of my close friends suggested to me her method for refreshing linens – homemade spray with essential oils!  I was on board!  Here’s how I make it:

Mix 3 drops lavender essential oil with about 1/2 tbsp rubbing alcohol into a 100mL spray bottle, and fill bottle with water. Give it a good shake to mix it all together, and you’re done!

Test a bit on some fabric before you use, just to make sure it doesn’t stain (though I’ve had no issues with cotton).  Shake it a bit before spraying and spray on your bed sheets and pillow at least a few minutes before hopping in to bed so it can dry fully.

Super easy and cheap, and I love the smell!  I used to not like lavender, but I think I’ve gotten used to it, and it’s such a calming scent so it’s perfect for nighttime.  I’ve even used it to refresh clothing items that I was planning on wearing again and just wanted to be extra fresh!

I’ve really been loving using essential oils, and I’ll definitely have more uses in the future, stay tuned!

Have you experimented with essential oils?  Found any uses that you love, or a favourite oil?  My personal favourite right now is pink grapefruit!