Month: April 2013

Sunday rituals – Monday oatmeal

There are a couple of childhood rituals that have never left me. Every Sunday the sheets get changed and I always have a bath before going to bed (in the clean sheets). Don’t get me wrong, I hit the tub plenty of other nights and change the bed linens at other times as well, but I must on Sundays. Recently I’ve added a new ritual that ends the weekend – pulling out the slow cooker to make steel cut oatmeal. I set this up in the evening, let it cook on low all night, then wake up to piping hot, super healthy oatmeal that lasts me all week! Here’s what I do:

Spray the bottom and sides of a slow cooker with cooking spray or wipe down with margarine. Add:

  • 1 cup of steel cut oats
  • 4 cups of liquid (I use 1 cup of milk and 3 cups of water but all water works just fine too)

That could be it. This is the basic recipe which will give you creamy good oatmeal in the morning. Here are some additions that perk up the basic recipe. Use them in any combination you like.

It's not pretty but this crockpot has served me well...and store it out of sight!
It’s not pretty but this crockpot has served me well…and I store it out of sight!
  • chopped, cored, peeled apple or applesauce
  • generous sprinkling of cinnamon
  • brown sugar
  • maple syrup
  • nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans
  • dried fruit: cranberries, raisins, apricots

Simply add your favourites to the slow cooker, put the lid on and turn the power to low. Leave it for 8 hours or so. Give it a stir and serve. I leave my cooker on top of my stove rather than the countertop as a precaution….safety first, right?!
I make the basic recipe on Sunday night, wake up to breakfast waiting and store the rest of the batch in a covered glass container in the fridge. Each morning I serve myself another bowlful, add my toppings of choice for that day and microwave it for 90 seconds. An easy warm, filling and healthy breakfast…yes, please. How about you, any weekly rituals you must practice?

Tulips – high and low

photo (1)Tulips truly herald in Spring. I love when they start popping up in garden beds and grocery stores. They’re such a great way to welcome colour into our lives and homes after the grey days of winter. The only downside to these is they tend to droop. Nothing’s sadder  than wilting blooms so here ‘s my super simple way of prolonging the life and enjoyment of these.image

On the right is the classic long stem arrangement, or what I refer to as the ‘high’ display. These are stunning for days. So elegant and regal. This is how tulips start out in my house. Honestly all you do for this look is keep your stems as long as possible, line the bottoms up so all the blooms are at about the same height and plunk them in a vase with water.

imageAs soon as the long stems start to get tired and droop, I hack them off. That’s right, no mercy. Pull your tulips gently from the vase keeping the stems aligned and cut off a few inches of stem. It’s going to seem like a lot of cutting and there will be carnage. It’s okay. You’ll end up with the ‘low’ arrangement on the left. Adding a bit of sheer ribbon to the vase makes these giftable and also ideal for the dinner table.

Did you notice I have leaves wrapped around the inside of the vase? Super fancy, right?! Also super easy. To get this look, remove 4 or 5 lower leaves from the tulip stems. imageCarefully curl them into a loose circle – they actually tend to do this naturally so let them help you. Now gently wrap those leaf curls around the stem bunch. Place the whole works in your vase then add the water.

imageI’ve used Ikea’s ‘Vasen’ vase here but this works just as well with a cylinder or bowl style vase.

So, you are now invited to pick yourself up some tulips and try them ‘high’ and ‘low’. Call it homework!

Enjoy and happy Spring!

Polka dot jeans


Patterned jeans are everywhere! I really like them but the price tag, not so much, especially since this trend probably won’t last long. Fear not frugal fashionistas…we can knock these off on the cheap. Check the back of your closet or your local thrift shop for a pair of jeans and gather your supplies:

  • clean jeans
  • fabric paint (I used matte white)
  • sponge make up applicator
  • circle punch or exacto knife (mine is a 5/8″ circle I had on hand but you can use a heart or star punch found at Michaels too)
  • scrap of thin cardboard  (I used a paint chip)
  • paper plate (or the like for pouring paint onto)
  • 2 strips of cardboard or newspaper and a paper towel
  • ruler and chalk or marking pencil

supplies1)Punch hole(s) with hole punch or knife into thin scrap of cardboard to make a stencil for painting your dots. I made 3 holes, 3″ apart to make for easier painting and lining up.

2) Lay your jeans out on a table or countertop and get them to lay as flat as possible. Insert cardboard or newspaper into jean legs and top to prevent paint from seeping through (this is really just a precaution, we won’t use enough paint to do any damage but better safe than sorry!).

3) Use your ruler and chalk to measure and mark where your dots will go. I spaced mine 3″ apart on all sides and staggered each row so the pattern kind of alternated. You can free hand this if you’re comfortable with that and the chalk marks can always be changed by erasing with a damp cloth. I am an OCD candidate and felt the need to mark out a uniform pattern.

4) Once you’re happy with your pattern, squeeze a small puddle of paint onto your plate and dip your sponge into it. srartedWipe most of it off by dabbing it onto a paper towel. Lay your stencil over a chalk mark and dab your paint onto the denim exposed through the hole. Be sure to cover the whole area and don’t worry about painting onto the cardboard, that’s what we made the stencil for. Move your stencil to the next chalk mark and repeat. You’ll come across a seam at some point, just paint right over it!

5) Let dry for about and hour then turn the jeans over and continue the same process for the back. Let dry for 24 hours before wearing. You’re done!

Now prance around in your trendy new jeans feeling pretty smug about doing it yourself….and perhaps splurge on a new top with the money you saved!

These are safe to machine wash and dry since fabric paint is permanent.