Friday, July 29, 2011

Casa Friday: Wood You Try This?

If you read my reclaimed wood table post, then you know I go crazy for projects that use old, beat-up wood. Well, clearly I am not the only one. Many people have made it their mission to find a new use for pallet wood, which is treated or sometimes untreated wood used to make a flatbed for shipping large items.

By searching pallet on Pinterest (a site to help keep track of stuff that you love on the www), 4611 projects, crafts and homey things came up. There's everything from plate racks to planters to coffee tables... I'm  amazed by the things you can do with a recycled pallet.

Today I have 3 beautiful projects from the blogosphere that I want to share. All of them are--or can be--made with pallet wood or any other good-quality natural wood. No veneered wood. Ick. So check these out:

From PB&J Stories

Pamela of PB&J Stories
tried to make this out of pallet wood first. She ended up using some new wood instead, but look how well it turned out! It's beautiful. I like that the low headboard is very subtle and understated, even though I would prefer to extend it higher for a dramatic effect. And the deep stain she put on it is delicious. Metaphorically, of course. She also has an easy-to-follow tutorial, so follow the link above if you want to check it out and for cute pictures of her little helper.

From Under the Sycamore

Ashley Ann from Under the Sycamore
shared how she made this cozy little daybed for the nursery. Don't you just wanna cuddle up here with a good book & a tea or even better a snuggly man-friend? I like how she made a makeshift headboard with an old door and a cluster of frames above. And I may or may not be crushing on the collection of poufs & paper lanterns on the ceiling. If only I had a place to put them... Hmm.

From Bower Power

And finally Katie from Bower Power (with some handy-man help from her hubs) put up this intricate wood accent wall made with pallet wood. Same idea as the headboard above but on a larger scale. I absolutely adore this wall! I think I actually let out a yelp when I saw it. How perfect is it for a woodsy themed nursery? I also think it would look cool in a cozy family room or a large bathroom with a cottage feel. The mis-matched colors were intentionally spread out to make it look balanced. You can see a detailed step-by-step here.

As you can probably tell, I tend to lean toward recycled or up-cycled DIY projects. I'm hoping to bring more of this to my blog by trying to focus on projects that use things I would otherwise throw away. It's becoming more important to me as I get older to be mindful of how much I waste. I'm really starting to make an effort to recycle and to limit my spending on "stuff". I'm turning more toward thrifting, too. What about you guys? What do you think of these projects? Would you try these at home?

I'll be back on Sunday or Monday with a Steppin' Out Saturday post with my traveling outfit. I'm going home to New Brunswick for the weekend for a family reunion thingie. Hope you all have a great weekend!

xo Janelle

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: How have you bean?

Hi everyone,

Today I've got an original (aka. thrown-together) recipe for 3-bean salad with feta. It can easily be ready in 10 minutes and it goes really well with fish, chicken or rice. Because of the cumin & coriander it's different than most bean salads which rely on vinegar. This one has no vinegar but gets it's flavour from the feta and spices. Check it out:

3-Bean Salad with Feta
*Serves 3-4

1/2 c. edamame
1/2 c. green beans
1/2 cup chick peas, drained
1/4 c. raisins
1/8 c. crumbled feta cheese
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
2 tsp olive oil
a couple shakes of ground coriander
pinch salt

Put your raisins in a small bowl and cover with hot tap water. Cook up your frozen edamame & green beans in the microwave. I put mine in a covered, microwave dish and nuke them for about 2-3 minutes. Drain them, put them back in the dish & add the chick peas.

Add the olive oil, spices + salt. Crumble the feta on top & mix well. Drain the raisins and throw them in. Stir it up and bam. You're done.


I added some extra cumin to mine, but I think I may love it more than the average person so feel free to experiment a bit! And trust me, don't skip out on soaking your raisins. It makes such a difference because they plump right up.

xo Janelle

PS- I ate it too fast to get any pictures... but I think you can figure it out!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Steppin Out Saturday: Pride Parade!

 Today I have another new feature for you, Steppin Out Saturdays. A few of the fashion blogs I read do a link up with their Saturday outfits all on Harpers Happenings*, where it all got started! This is great because you can get some great fashion inspiration from real people. Also, you may discover some fun blogs that you never knew about. Before you go on though, I am definitely not trying to say that I am particularly stylish or that my outfits are particularly avant garde in any way. I just love dressing up and putting outfits together and hope to share them as part of Steppin Out. :)

*Harpers Happenings is a sweet little lifestyle/fashion/toddler etc. blog written by Mandy. I really like popping in and reading her posts and she thrifts a lot of her clothes, which I think is awesome. Having grown up on Frenchys I am no stranger to second-hand stores!

So here's what Abby & I wore yesterday when we went to watch the pride parade:

New haircut too, after the humidity got to it...

We had a blast! Abby was so calm the whole time, she got to meet some other dogs and even got a treat from the KOOL FM guy. Who knew that taking dogs to parades was a thing? Definitely not this first time puppy mom. Haha.

xo Janelle

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Nine Kitchen Goodies for Under $10

I have shopping fever. Badly. But instead of actually spending money today, I decided to put together a fun mish-mash of kitchen things that are all under $10 for this Casa Friday post. So, let's do a little bit of browsing this morning, shall we?

Buy a "Six Pack" for $7.

Now I'm not a beer drinker, but at parties I've had to throw away nearly full bottles of beer. These dishwasher-safe Beer Savers promise to keep your beer from going flat. No more wasted beer! But really though, if your bottle has some beer left in it, you're not doing it right...

Now you can carry your treats to my house.

I had to double-check the price when I saw this cake/pie carrier for only $7.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond. These usually go for around $20-$30, so this one is a steal. I like it because it's entirely plastic, so it's durable and hard to break if it gets dropped. The pedestal is also removable, just in case you don't need the extra height.

They come in a set of 2.

If you know me at all, you probably know I'm obsessed with hearts. So much, that I'm planning a post entirely focused on heart-shaped things. Feel free to skip that one if you are annoyed by the word "cute" and/or hate rainbows and sunshine and prefer to live a dull, boring life. Jokes! So, check out these darling little ice-cube trays. I would LOVE for someone to go to Ikea and pick these up for me because we don't have one around here and this item doesn't ship. Boo. The black one is for water bottles and the red one is for fun. And for $1.99? That's pocket change for something that'll brighten up your day every time you take a sip of your drink.

Ikea, $6.99

Also from Ikea is this charming saucepan. It looks like something my grandmother would have had in the 70s. Can't you picture yourself in a floral apron making Alfredo sauce in this colorful pot? Maybe that's just me.

From the Kitchen Outlet, $5 each

For anyone who has a hard time pouring without getting drips down the side of the pot (like me for example), these spouts help direct the mixture into the bowl. At first I questioned whether these would actually work and wondered how the liquid doesn't go in between the pot and the spout but, I trust them because they were featured on Real Simple which is one of my favorite magazines. They also come in primary colors!

The yellow & white combination is my favorite.

Everyone needs a few fun plates. I'm big on having white dishes because I like how food looks on them, but fun plates like these ones from Pier One Imports bring a little whimsy to the table. They also come in green or red and at $5 you can get a matching or mismatching set for $20. Cheep for cheap! Ha.

Layer up the pops for a throwback to the rocket ones.

I've been meaning to buy some Popsicle molds for this summer but didn't get around to it. This set of 6 sandcastle molds comes from Cucina Moderna in Halifax (yay, local). They also come in sailboat and rocket shapes. Did you ever make homemade Popsicles growing up? We've never layered them but we really used to love yogurt pops. Yummm. I might even go get these today since Cucina Moderna is just a couple blocks away.... Hmm.

Sleek and functional

I love the look of this strainer and all you have to do is hold it against the pot and pour. This beats the hell out of trying to do it with the lid. I always lose a few noodles when I do it that way. It also comes from Ikea for $4.99.

Pier One for $6.99

The first time I saw these tumblers at HomeSense I didn't see the point. Why not just use a waterbottle? Then I moved to the city and saw how useful tumblers actually are. When you're rushing to work or walking around on a nice day you don't want to juggle your bags to take a cap off of a bottle. Plus, these tumblers are super-easy to hand-wash and they don't "sweat", because they're double walled. So your hand stays comfortable even if you have an iced smoothie in your cup. Check out those fun summer colors too! Oh, and they promise to be leak-proof so you don't need to worry about spilling on your cute sundress or white shorts. Don't forget to check to make sure they're BPA free.

Well that wraps up my 9 kitchen goodies under $10. I hope you enjoyed this different feature. I love finding things that are cheap, useful and stylish so check back next Friday for another one. And don't forget to stop in on Monday for a weekend recap and Tuesday for a bean salad recipe if you're interested. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

xo Janelle

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Restaurant Review: Havana Night

On Monday my friend, who I'll call Sucia, and I tried out one of Spring Garden's newest restaurants, Havana Night. We arrived around 5:30 or 6 and the place was completely empty. We were greeted promptly and opted to sit outside on the patio. We had an awesome view of the Spring Garden shops and the weather was perfect. Our waiter came over and asked us if we wanted drinks and handed us a menu, but we said we needed a minute. It took him about 15 minutes to come back the second time, and then we ordered our drinks and mains. My drink, a G&C, was served in a martini glass and was so dangerously delicious. I couldn't taste the alcohol and probably could have definitely downed it. Sucia said her mojito was delicious, so I had a little sip and it tasted so fresh and leafy. Yum.

About 5 minutes later our waiter came back to tell me that my choice Mi Ropa Vieja would take a long time to make, which was understandable because the restaurant was empty so it's not like they would have had any prepared. I was a little bummed though because the beef with tomato and wine sauce sounded pretty amazing. I told him I needed a minute, chose what I wanted and got up to tell him so that we wouldn't have to wait.

I was pretty happy with my choice of La Guajira, which came with seasoned chicken, pork, yucca (a rooty vegetable, with a potato-like texture) and fried plantains. The one thing that stood out was that the meat was over-cooked to the point where it was very dry. This was a shame because the flavour and the spices of the meat were very good. It was unlike any other spice I've had. I really hope they change this, as I would definitely like to go back and give it another go. Sucia's pork was also very dry and tough. The yucca, which I was trying for the first time was very juicy and soft as it was served with chopped garlic and lemon. Also my fried plantains were a nice departure from the usual fries. I should also mention that the portion sizes were pretty big. Neither of us could finish, so we brought some home. In total, my bill (including drink) came to $23, which was pretty reasonable.

During our meal, who I assume to be the manager or owner, came out to ask us how our meal was, which I thought was a nice gesture. Overall, our waiter was friendly, pretty attentive but seemed a bit inexperienced or unsure of himself. Sucia and I did have a great time though, we didn't rush, enjoyed the patio and caught up over an authentic Cuban meal with tied back to our Spanish-class roots! I would like to go back on a Friday/Saturday and see how the atmosphere changes at night. The decor inside was warm and cozy with dark wood furniture and bold wall colors and an open area for a dance floor.

If you're in Halifax I would say give it a shot. I try to make an effort to support new restaurants in the area, especially ones that bring a new culture and cuisine. Our waiter informed us that Friday and Saturday there are free Salsa lessons and on Wednesday the mojitos are just 5 bucks. Since I won't be taking any type of substantial vacation this summer, I guess I'll have to settle for a little taste of Cuba from Havana Night. I'll take it!

xo Janelle

Saturday, July 16, 2011

simple storage using ish you already have.

I hope you're having a great weekend. We are in "Sunday-mode" today and are just relaxing, cuddling the puppy & napping.

For this weeks home post, I put together some easy, don't-even-have-to-think-about-it storage ideas. Baskets and bins are always, always a safe bet but sometimes it's fun to think outside of the box (so punny!). I wanted to share these ideas because they use things you probably already have kicking around, which means more cash for you (or for weekend booze) and means you're creating less waste (which will make you part of the "green/eco-conscious/environmentally friendly" club). Honestly though, they look pretty and do the job. And who doesn't love stuff that's cheap, pretty and functional?

Try storing your toothbrushes in a fun mug, instead of a holder or cup.

I have mine in this green Alexander Keith's mug, which goes with the haphazard tree/nature theme we've got going on. A mug with a pedestal bottom would look elegant, whereas a short round mug in a punchy tangerine or teal would bring some energy and color.

Use a pretty gift-bag on your dresser to hold clutter (headbands, perfume bottles, lotions, receipts etc.).
I had a teeny empty version of this Coach gift bag on my dresser and decided to clear some stuff off my dresser by throwing it in. The bag is up high enough that the junk doesn't show and I can always go back and put everything away later. Yay for procrastination!


Store bathroom essentials in old berry containers or tangerine crates.
I love this storage idea from Real Simple! If you're like my mom and you hoard hotel shampoos and soaps, this is a great way to keep them all together. You could also grab a few travel-sized toiletries, tuck in a rolled facecloth and an extra toothbrush and leave it out for guests. Or tie a ribbon around it to fancy it up and give it as a sweet little hostess gift.

Real Simple

Keep utensils within reach in these charming pots.
These would work perfectly for parties, weddings, potlucks etc. and would make good office or kitchen storage too! How about using one as a napkin holder on the dining room table?

Simple Home Life via Pinterest

Use mason jars to store craft supplies, makeup, q-tips and things.
Confession: I am obsessed with mason jars. We used to use them as cups when we were kids so naturally they make me very nostalgic. I have so many DIY projects to do with these... everything from candle holders to painting them from the inside to making vacation jars. If you Google mason jar uses you'll see why I'm so inspired! Check out the idea below using hose clamps and what looks like molding. Cute, eh?


I hope you enjoyed my tips. Don't forget that these can all be used wherever you need to control your clutter. If you always have pens and notes scattered by the phone, set a painted jar there to hold them. If you always drop your keys and phone when you come in the door, set a vintage butter-dish there to keep them out of sight. I get overexcited when I find something that looks nice and actually works well for me. Boxes, baskets and bins are fine for some things, but I need a little bit of personality, a little bit of "cute". This post actually has me excited about cleaning and organizing... never knew that was possible. I'll be sure to post whatever I end up doing. Keep an eye out next week for a heart shaped DIY project I'm working on....

Do you have any ideas for recycled storage? What do you think of these ones? Do you hate organizing, but love being organized? Let me know!

xo Janelle

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

Good morning! Hope your morning is off to a good start. I didn't have a good sleep, but I'm in bed eating some of my favorite oatmeal so I'm pretty happy at the moment. If you read yesterday's post then you know we made pulled pork for supper on Saturday. We were having my Nan, Grandad, Auntie Judy and cousins Hannah & Philip over. I made a double batch (Hello leftovers!) but the recipe that follows is a single one.

Now if you read this blog at all, you know that I love simple recipes and this one is just that. You pop the pork in the slow cooker and go about your day for the next 8 hours or so. Then it takes about another 15 minutes of work to get it all ready. For this reason, it's great to make when you're having guests because no one likes to spend the whole time in the kitchen and miss out on the fun, right? Anyway, here is the "recipe":

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

Serves at least 4

1/2 large onion, diced
1 pork roast, shoulder or butt
1-3 c. apple juice
1 bottle of BBQ sauce
1 bag of coleslaw (or cabbage very thinly sliced)
coleslaw salad dressing
4+ buns, Kaisers are good
salt & pepper

1. Put your onions in the bottom of the cooker and trim the fat off of your roast.

2. Put your roast in the cooker, pour the apple juice over the top and season the roast with salt & pepper. The apple juice should be about 1/3 up the side of the cooker, if not, add a bit more.

 3. Set the cooker on low for 8 hours and go do some shopping or dancing or play with your puppy.

4. When the pork is looking pretty roasted, mix the coleslaw with the dressing. Add just enough dressing so the cabbage is coated, but don't drown it.

5. With a slotted spoon & a fork, transfer the pork to a large bowl, removing the bones & fat as you go. Shred the pork very thinly by pulling it apart with 2 forks. Try to break up all of the pieces so it's tender.

 6. Add a bottle of BBQ sauce, drain the slowcooker and plop the pork right back in the slowcooker for about 30 minutes.

7. Cut your buns, add the pork, some extra sauce & a big spoonful of coleslaw. Then, eat.
the final product, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.

I usually use just any old BBQ sauce, but this time I used PC's Pulled Pork Sauce.To be honest though, it was just okay. I think I'd rather use the Kraft stuff I used last time. For me, this sauce was too tangy and not smoky or spicy enough. Everyone else loved it though and the pork and bun were soft and tender. So I'd say if you're trying this out to just go with your favorite BBQ sauce because you'll be tasting a lot of it in this sandwich! Oh, and and trust me on this one, don't skip on the coleslaw. It brings a nice creaminess and it breaks up the strong taste of the BBQ sauce.

Do you like pulled pork? Would you try this one? Let me know your thoughts!

xo Janelle

Monday, July 11, 2011

Weekend Recap: The one with Weenieman, adult bibs & dog treats

Me + the new "firetruck"

Thanks for the blog visit! As promised, I'm going to recap my super exciting--for me, anyway--weekend! I hope yours was wonderful too. **This post is pretty photo heavy, FYI.

My parents arrived Friday night from NB. They got in around 10, so we got some groceries (thanks guys!), made some croissant-wrapped gouda & went to bed. We had already decided on going to Halifax's Seaport Market the next day, so we hopped in the truck and off we went. We brought along my uncle Bruce and walked around for hours. I have to tell you, I have a tumultuous relationship with the market. I love going there and sampling treats (who doesn't though, really?) but I can't help but feel tempted to spend money. And spend we did!
Some AMAZING industrial art. Forgot to check artist name.
First, we stopped at Red's Bakery and had some samples. I tried their bread pudding and it was super-good, not too sweet but still doughy and sticky. Dad tried the carrot cookie sandwich and loved it too. I'll definitely be buying some goods from this sweet lady soon. 
a very Easter-like display
 I tried some of this homemade maple salad dressing and had to get Dad to try it. This is his reaction when he was caught licking his sample cup. Classic Dad face.... guilty.

Here mom & I tried some Tofu dips by Acadiana Soy Products. I liked the curry dip & green onion dill dip. I think it would be really good with fish. Mom liked the cheeze spread, but I was a little weirded out by the spelling and the fact that it was not real cheese.

At this point we were starving and the samples just weren't cutting it, so Mom and I grabbed some samosas from Amin's Indian Food stall. It was her first time having one and I think she was surprised that they weren't spicy. They were tasty, but they were not as good as the ones at the Sackville, NB Bridge street market by a long shot.

 And now, for the reason some of you clicked on the post, introducingggggggg Weenieman! Get it? You roast weenies on his... you know. Naughty? Yes. Tacky? Yes. But, fun? I think so! Dad used to make similar things at work with nuts and bolts when he used to be a welder, so I ended up getting this for them as a trailer-warming gift which I'm sure they'll use.

And here's my uncle Bruce modelling the bib/apron he bought for Nanny. The perfect gift for a cat lady who loves to cook!

hand-crafted wine bottle holder

the man with the magic hands
I ran into Dad chatting it up with this guy who runs Scotian Ironworks , not to be confused with Ironworks Distillery who make mouth-watering liquors. He does all hand-made iron sculptures, hangers, railings, candleholders etc. etc. I can't believe that he does every intricate detail by hand. The pictures really don't do the wine bottle holder justice. It's stunning in person!

All in all, we had a great time. We tried some food, saw some pretty things and lost eachother in a sea of people. Here's what we ended up coming home with. I bought Abby some treaties from Katie's Farm. Abby liked the taste, but I think she found them a bit too crunchy because she really had to chomp on them. I also bought some organic soap from Oasa Mae to replace the Softsoap grapefruit body wash that I don't really like. The bar smells really light & fresh and not "goat's milk" or patchouli-ish at all and it lathers up really soft. I love it already! Mom & Dad bought some Jost wine that isn't available in NB and we also bought some buns from Aziz Best Baker. The buns were so fresh and worked perfectly for our pulled pork sandwiches. Check back tomorrow for my slow-cooker pulled pork recipe!
My little Sheppard after a wet walk.

 Thanks for reading! Gotta go because the fire alarm is going off for some reason. Probably some idiot burning toast.

xo Janelle

My mom was in some cute photos but she didn't want her pictures "on the internet", so I obliged! That's why she's missing from the photos here. Love you mom!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Casa Fridays: colorful art for a rainy day.

Photo from Baby Blackbird
I was so inspired when I saw this tutorial image on Pinterest, but when I clicked to the final product I was blown away by the possibilities.

Brandy from Baby Blackbird and her kiddos made this as a Father's Day gift for her husband/their dad. See the actual tutorial here. Isn't it sweet? All they did was take vinyl reusable sticker letters, stuck them on a blank canvas, painted over the whole canvas and then took them off. It's so simple, not to mention inexpensive, but the part that tickles my fancy is that you can make such a range of pieces of art using the same idea. Can you tell how excited I am?

I'm definitely going to make one of these, it's just a matter of narrowing down my options for color, words, shapes, brush strokes etc. I might try using song lyrics or a quote that I like.
 For a different variation, you could use round brush strokes for a hypnotizing effect or you could do various shades of all one color for a softer, soothing look. I would like to see what covering the whole canvas with words would look like. Too. Many. Options.

What do you think? Am I a little over-enthused? I think it's because our apartment is really crying for a fun piece of art and a lot more color. I'm looking to bring color into the bedroom by doing a hanging project where the clothesline is. Stay tuned for that little update in a couple weeks!

This weekend my parents are paying me a visit and we're going to hit up the Farmer's market tomorrow morning, shop around in the day and have the rest of the family over for pulled pork. And you know I go a little nutzo for pulled pork, so it should be a fun time. See you on Monday for a little weekend re-cap. I hope you have a great weekend full of sunshine!

xo Janelle

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Pride Pockets (Healthy Pizza Pockets)

Good morning! I hope my American readers had a great long weekend.

Today's recipe comes from Amuse Bouche. Whit, who writes the blog, is hilarious and if you like food blogs (which you must because you're here!) then you should check her out. You can read the recipe here, but I'll post my modified instructions here to help you out. Basically Pride Pockets are pizza pops or pockets but instead of being wrapped in god-knows-what they're surrounded by bread! They only take about 30 minutes from start to finish so they're almost as fast as making pizza pockets in the oven and the best part is you can change it up and stuff em with whatever you have on hand! Broccoli & cheddar pockets, greek pockets, meatlovers... 
Pizza Pride Pocket
Modified from Whit's Amuse Bouche
1 loaf of any kind of bread
Shredded Mozzerella
Pepperoni, salami or your meat of choice
Diced onion & green pepper (mushrooms if you like)
1 can or squeeze bottle of pizza sauce (time saver!)
Extra basil?

1.  Preheat the oven to 350. Cut up your meat into very small pieces. Throw it in the pan and brown it with the onions, peppers, sauce, basil, salt & pepper. Add the sauce and stir until thoroughly heated.

2. While this is heating up, cut the crusts off the bread two at a time.

3. When the sauce mixture is heated, put it into a bowl and let it cool just a bit. Grate up some mozzarella and add it to the mixture. 

4. Take about a tsp-tbsp of the mixture and plop it in the centre of one piece of bread. Squish the bread down gently so it doesn't rip. Then crimp the edges of the bread with a fork to lock in the pizza stuff. Pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the tops are nice and crispy and you're done!
*The only big change to the ingredients, was that I used premade pizza sauce. I had some I wanted to use up and it ended up being faster. The only change I made to the actual instructions was to combine the sauce mixture and the cheese before putting it on the bread. Otherwise, I find it harder to keep all of the cheese contained to the middle, but feel free to do it either way.

I think this recipe is fantastic for people with kids, or for those who are kids at heart. They're healthy, nutritious and fun to make. I may have downed 2 of them and then had a little moment of realization that I had just eaten 4 slices of bread... woops. I think these would be great served with a little garden or greek salad, potato salad or pasta salad. Let me know if you give these a go! 
Almost gone...

Thanks for reading!

xo Janelle