Friday, October 26, 2012

Trick or Treat: Easy Halloween Craft DIY Gift Bag

Look what I made! I offered to make little gift bags for D's niece and nephew, since he wanted to send them some treats for Halloween in the mail. As I was making them, my friend C showed up, so the cute pumpkin treat bag was made by her.

These are so easy to make. Depending on the detail of your design, these could be ready to go in 15 minutes. I used a template on Homemade Gifts Made Easy for the gift bag and then decorated them with paint, construction paper & a micron pen for the spiderwebs.
To add an element of surprise to my bag I added a piece of folded construction paper to make the door moveable. A spooky silhouette, a cat in the window and a cracked window makes it look more like a haunted house. How sweet is that ribbon bow that C added to her pumpkin? I think it's adorable.

Speaking of Halloween, D & I are working on our costumes tonight and heading out to a party tomorrow. I will be sure to post a recap on Sunday for you to see. What are your plans for Halloween?

xoxo Janelle

I should have styled these photos, but it was nighttime and i was excited (and tired). I'll do better next time!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Baking in a Rental Without Counter Space: Banana Crumble Muffins

For the first month or so of living in our new place (pics soon!) I avoided baking. You see, our apartment's sink is flanked by two laminate counter tops wide enough for one baking sheet on each. Yes, I measure things in baking sheet units. As you can imagine, those counter tops are not clear because we've got the toaster on one side coupled with a few dirty dishes and on the other side we have our knife block and dish rack. Counter space = gone.

I should tell you that this has not stopped me from cooking though, I mean, a girl's gotta eat. I make due with a large wooden cutting board placed over the two burners that aren't in use. it makes for a pretty great prep space, it's cozy and I like it.
When the oven's on (ie. when I'm baking) the cutting board is banished from the stove for obvious reasons.

Our solution to the lack of counterspace was to use a 3-tiered wooden shelf given to us by my grandparents. They found it in the garbage room of their condo, still wrapped in the plastic! It's one of those ones that needs to be drilled together and has the slatted shelves.

For my baking set-up yesterday, I brought the cutting board over to the window and popped it on top of the wooden shelf. I blocked off the entrance to the kitchen with garbage bins to stop our nosy pup from getting in the way/mooching and pushed the microwave into the centre of the room so I could plug it in elsewhere since we blew a fuse last week. I pulled my large bin of baking stuff onto the floor along with the canisters of flour and sugar. I hope you're getting the full visual effect of how ridiculous this whole set-up was. Apron on, flour everywhere, my computer perched on the wooden shelf with two mixing bowls, the oven beeping at me. A pretty, pretty sight. Or a hot mess.

Mess aside, I had fun time baking in my little kitchen. I could hear D's reactions to the Raptors' game he was watching in living room and I could see our little nosy dog peeking her head in, hoping to eye some crumbs for later.

Want to see the Banana Crumble Muffins? Feast your eyes on these babies.

I used this recipe from Amy Allen Clark at MomAdvice. My only change was that I doubled the cinnamon for the topping. This is a great recipe for using up bananas that are starting to turn brown. I usually go to my mom's recipe for banana bread, but decided to change things up a bit. I like the portability of a muffin for work and they are easier to share, too. My two co-workers gave them a thumbs up this morning!

I think I'm going to start adding some form of crumble to all of my future muffins. Blueberry crumble, apple crumble, raspberry crumble... It gives the muffin a bit more texture, richer taste and a dressier look - great for when you're trying to impress the in-laws. Haha. Beware of the crumble though! It's kind of like glitter in that it tends to get everywhere when removing the muffins and setting them on the cooling rack. I have my pup for crumbs, but you might need a damp cloth.

What are your go-to recipes for bananas past their prime? If you make any crumble muffins, let me know. I'd love to see them!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Halifax Art @ Night: Nocturne 2012 & A Fall Fun List

I'm back with that fall fun list I mentioned in my last post. I tried to branch out a bit from the typical apple picking-scarf-wearing-pumpkin-spiced-latte fall list.

As it turns out, last night I managed to check off one thing. Surprise! It was Nocturne - Art @ Night. Nocturne is an annual one-night art festival held in Halifax. For more info on how it works, check out last year's post. D & I planned our route ahead of time and decided to check out Turnstile Pottery on our way downtown.

My favorite piece was this anchor mug with a slightly speckled finish and a shiny glaze. I wish it could have come home with me.

After browsing all of their cups, dishes and sculptures, we noticed the artists had made a few trees & haunted houses for people to paint. I thought the white-striped snake could use a little something extra, so when the lady next to me suggested polka dots I got busy.

After entering a draw to win one of these masterpieces we flagged down Metro Transit's free bus (shout out to our jolly driver!) and rode it to NSCAD, the local art university. Here we found windows tagged with messages and names. Of course I couldn't resist adding my own touch.

We then went around the corner to Club 1869. D & I were split up and sent to two different rooms. In my room there was an assortment of traditionally female things on podiums: shoes, a large wooden spoon, a baby doll etc. and a bunch of color TVs showing the men's room. Webcams served as the only connection between the two rooms. When we talked about the exhibit afterwards we uncovered the things that were unique to each room, like in the men's "club" the TVs were black & white but ours were in colour. It was a cool concept and was probably our favourite exhibit of the night!

Having worked up an appetite already, we headed to Grand Parade to take in a dance performance and to try to find some food. When we spotted the Nomad Gourmet food truck, we quietly slipped through the crowd to feed our rumbling bellies. 
Twitter had informed me that they made some chili, so I was quick to order. At the Nomad's helpful suggestion, D went with the pulled pork sandwich with bacon jam. Yes, that's right. Jam made of bacon. I only had one heavenly bite but it was enough to decide that next time, it will be mine. This is not to take away from the hot & comforting bowl of chili I hungrily devoured. It had sausage and some type of pulled meat in it. I just kept saying 'so good' between big mouthfuls. My one complaint? Mine could have been warmer, but the chilly chili was probably a result of the cool winds. As you can tell though, I was very impressed and will definitely visit again.

Hint: If you want to check out Nomad Gourmet, they are parked on Argyle near Grand Parade most days. You can also follow them on Twitter for menu updates and location changes.

On our way to see the Halifax Circus performances, we spotted four women in the windows of Serpentine Studios on Barrington. We stood with a group of onlookers and watched them shimmy and shake in the pink-lit windows above. It had a red-light district feel to it but the dancers kept it fun and (thankfully) PG.

We ended our Nocturne experience, the same way we have for 2 out of 3 years, by taking in the sights of the Halifax Circus. The performances were stunning, as usual, with a fire show ablaze outside and three aerial acrobats climbing and stretching inside. All of my photos are blurry, but it was awe-inspiring to see the aerials set up inside the church and the acrobats were talented, as always.

I would count Nocturne 2012 as another success! D & I both had a great time, even if we had to dress in layers upon layers upon layers. Thank you to the amazing group of volunteers, participants and hosting businesses and locations. I'm already looking forward to next year...
What are your plans for Fall? Have you ever been to Nocturne? Does your community host any accessible art events? I'd love to hear in the comments! Thanks for reading. Enjoy your Sunday!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sunshine, Moving & Dog Training: Summer 2012 Recap

After being away from the blog for longer than expected, I am finally back! Thanks for (re)visiting Two Cups Of Happy. Now I know most bloggers are crushing on fall right now and posting about pumpkin spiced lattes & apple picking, but I didn't blog all summer. I think we have some catching up to do.

We moved!

The dog, the boy & I are now living solo. We found a small two bedroom within our price range in the North End of Halifax and B was moving out of the city to do some more schooling so the timing was right. We miss B and it's been lonely at times, but we are happy with our choice to live alone. The perks are nice... I even have a craft table now. I feel so spoiled!

Moving to this place was quite an adventure though. We came in a few weeks in advance to do some painting in the bedrooms (landlord approved!) and noticed that the place was left in horrible condition, ie. filthy. After two weekends of cleaning, we finally moved in on August 18th.

We trained the dog!

We've been having some leash-pulling issues with Abby since she was adopted and her off-leash boundaries have been non-existent. We tried to manage on our own for a while, tried a harness, a Halti head-collar but nothing worked. Because we were getting frustrated and were not able to give her the energy drain she needs, we bit the bullet and hired a trainer. We used Ted from Unleashed Potential and saw a tremendous difference in her within the first couple of sessions. Overall, she has been doing really well but today she had a slip up which involved her sprinting at top speed across a football field to where there were 6 dogs romping around. It's a process...

We crashed weddings!
Okay, so we didn't really crash them, we were invited. We went on two roadtrips to New Brunswick in June for our friends' weddings. They were both lovely and we got to rent a car and getaway for a few days. So nice.

We enjoyed the sunshine!

In case your not all caught up on the weather in Halifax, the summer of 2011 was brutal. It rained nearly every day. This summer was the complete opposite. We had beautiful weather! Here I am on the US Coast Guard vessel at the Tall Ships Festival.

I definitely took advantage of the sunshine with long walks on the waterfront with friends, BBQ's, lunchbreaks in the Gardens, hikes at Point Pleasant Park and even some seaside dining in Lunenburg. Every summer I vow to spend more time outside, and this summer I feel like I kept that promise and then some.

This summer was pretty great. Lately though, I've been embracing our new season, so be on the lookout for a fall fun list coming your way sometime soon. Thanks again for stopping by my new and (hopefully!) improved blog. Hope you have a great day!