Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My Favourites of 2014

Earlier this week I shared my 10 most visited posts of the year. Today I want to show you my favourites (in no particular order). These posts may not have been the most popular but they're the ones I really like and want to show off. 

Sunday, 28 December 2014

10 Most Popular Posts of 2014

2014 is almost over and so it's time for a recap. Honestly, I love doing these posts. It's neat to look back at what I've created and what other people have found most interesting. Here are my 10 most popular posts (by number of visits) of 2014.

If you'd like to see some of my past 10 Most Popular lists, you can check out 2013 and 2011/12

Shared at: Meegan Makes, My Pinterventure, A Stroll Thru Life, Kathe With An E, Sugar Bee Crafts, Diana Rambles, Fluster Buster, A Creative Princess, The Creative Exchange, Artsy Fartsy Mama, Life on Lakeshore Drive

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Runners Tell All: 2014 Recap and 2015 Goals

It's time for the final Runners Tell Amanda @ The Lady Okie and Becky @ Sunshine to the Square Inch. While I haven't always linked up, I've enjoyed reading the posts every month and didn't want to miss the last one. This month's topic was a 2014 recap and goals for 2015.

This is my first full year of running (how cool is that?!) and I'm hooked. I completed several 5 ks - both fun runs and timed runs - and my very first 10 k at the Calgary Marathon.  Most recently J and I did the Santa Shuffle, which was a super fun 5k run, complete with santa hats and reindeer antlers.

I've continued on my journey to get healthy and running has definitely helped with that: I'm losing weight, I'm being active, I'm eating better and I'm using running as a coping strategy for stress. I don't track distances or times so I don't have any impressive stats but to me the benefits I'm seeing are much more important than any numbers.

My awesome new shirt from mama. Love it!

This year my goal is simple: keep running. No times, no distance, no specific races, no pressure. I don't want to make too many plans because I fear that will take away the pleasure and relaxation I get from running so the only plan I'm making is to continue doing what I'm currently doing as long as I enjoy it.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Cleaning Oven Racks: Dish Soap and Fabric Softener Sheets

Last night was the first night of Christmas holidays and I celebrated by cleaning my oven. Yes, I live on the wild side. It might seem weird but whenever I have a break from school, the first thing I want to do is scrub my house top to bottom. Nothing makes me quite as relaxed as a clean house.

Anyway, most of the time I clean my oven with a baking powder paste but this time it was so bad that I went for the nasty cleaner. Several chemical burns and a headache later and my oven was sparkling. However, that is not the point. On to the real reason for this post: the oven racks.

After a few hours I could see some grease floating on the surface.

I hate cleaning oven racks. In my mind, they're way more annoying to clean than the actual oven. Instead of my usual scrubbing, I went to Pinterest to see if I could find a new idea. A lot of sites recommended 1/2 c blue dawn, 6 fabric softener sheets, and hot water. I put the ingredients in the bathtub and placed the racks in the water, with a cloth under each corner of the rack to protect that tub finish.

The oven with the clean, shiny racks.
They're not perfect but they're a whole lot better than they were.

I was pretty skeptical. Three episodes of Grey's Anatomy later (I am on holidays after all) and the grime was not easily coming off. True, the posts I read all said extended periods (8 hours to overnight) but I'm impatient and wanted to finish the racks before bed. I decided to suck it up and leave the racks in the tub overnight, and it was worth it. When I got up I wiped over the grime with one of the fabric softener sheets. Most of it wiped off and, while it isn't perfect, it's a whole lot better. Now I have lovely shiny racks for my sparkly clean oven.

A close up of the racks. As you can see, there's still some dirt
but for the little amount of scrubbing I did, I'm pleased.

Shared at: Life on Lakeshore Drive, A Stroll Thru Life, Crafty Blog Stalker, A Creative Princess, Ginger Snap Crafts, Fluster Buster, Sugar Bee Crafts

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Book Club and Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Pumpkin Squares with Cream Cheese Icing

First, let me apologize for the pictures. I made this recipe when I was in the midst of being crazy busy and I didn't take the time to get good pictures. Please don't be deceived - while the squares are absolutely delicious, the pictures don't do them justice.

These squares actually came about from a lack of time and a love of cream cheese icing. I needed something for book club and was craving my pumpkin roll with cream cheese icing but just didn't have the time to make it. Instead I modified the recipe to make squares. 

In case you're wondering, our book this month was The House At Riverton by Kate Morton. In my opinion it was a decent read but not overly captivating. I didn't find myself wanting to stay up late to read. However, we had some fantastic discussion about it that made me develop a much stronger appreciation of the book. Anyway, back to the squares.

In case you're wondering, you can easily use non gluten-free and dairy-free ingredients if you don't have food issues. I just use replacements I can actually eat.


3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup gluten-free flour (I used Cloud 9)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup canned pumpkin

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Using a mixer, blend the eggs, sugar, and vanilla.

Blend the pumpkin into the wet mixture.

In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.Slowly add to the wet ingredients and blend until smooth.

Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 12 pan and bake approximately 25 - 30 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the squares comes out clean.


1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese style soy, softened (I used Tofutti)
3/4 cup soy butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream all ingredients together using a mixer.

Allow the cake to cool (or if you're impatient like me, don't) and ice. Place in the fridge to set the icing.

Shared at: Ginger Snap Crafts, Glitter, Glue & Paint, Natasha in Oz, Life on Lakeshore Drive, Belle of the Kitchen, Sew Much Crafting, A Stroll Thru Life, Kathe With An E

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Abstract (Camouflage) Art Work

I realize it has been a while since I last posted and that my posts have become somewhat irregular. Without boring you with details, let me tell you that this has been absolutely, positively the most all-consuming, exhausting school year in my 9 years of teaching. I haven't been crafting or making projects, or running, or doing much of anything other than work. While I don't see this changing any time soon, I decided today to take some time for me. I went for a freezing (-22 Celsius) run and then spent a few hours making a new piece of art work.

I made this piece to replace the smushed paint artwork for the guest room that I didn't love, and used the same colours as found in my herringbone art and colour burst art. The inspiration was the piece over the bed in this post from Beautiful Matters but the painting took on its own style as I painted. I would definitely call it abstract but I feel like it also has a camouflage feel to it.

For paint colours I used navy, brown, green, light blue, silver, and white. I also mixed navy with white, brown with white, and silver with white to get a few different shades. Rather than explain how I did it, I took photos every few colours / steps so you can see the progression.

Once the painting was finished I let it dry and put it in one of the ikea frames I'd originally used for the smushed paint artwork. While I still have a mountain of schoolwork, I'd say it was a day well spent.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Runner Tell All: Most Memorable Running Moment

It's time again for the monthly link up from Amanda at The Lady Okie and Becka at Sunshine to the Square Inch. This month the topic is My Most Memorable Running Moment.

I've been thinking about this post for a while and was having a hard time picking just one moment. Maybe it's because I haven't been running for a very long time but I feel like all my races (and some of my training runs) have been memorable. Because of that I decided not to pick one but instead to share with you how I remind myself of my running accomplishments.

Please excuse the poor pictures. It's evening and very difficult to take nice pictures of a hallway when it's dark.

Last year, after running our first 10k at the Calgary Marathon, we received our first medals. I'm not sure why but none of the local runs hand out finishers medals and I'm way too slow to place in the top and earn one. Anyway, because I was so excited that we had medals, I made this medal holder to display them. You can check out the tutorial here if you'd like to make your own.

While trying to decide where to hang my medals I felt like I was hit by a wave of genius, in the form of a way to remember my running successes and to address our long, empty hallway. I spraypainted a picture frame and added one photo from every race J and I have participated in. As we participate in a new race, I add a new photo. Right now we still have two empty spaces (currently filled with brown card stock) but they should be full by the spring, at which point I'll add a new frame.

As I said, this doesn't exactly show my most memorable moment but seeing it daily reminds me of how far I've come and how much farther (pardon the pun) I'd like to go.

Shared at: Natasha in Oz, Life on Lakeshore Drive, Kathe With An E, 4 You With Love

Sunday, 5 October 2014

French Chicken - Slow Cooker Freezer Meal

Now that I've been using it for over a month, I'm wondering why I waited so long to buy a slow cooker. Seriously, it's amazing how easy it is to put a couple bags in the freezer on the weekend and pull them out on days when I have meetings and will be late.

One recipe that we've had several times and both enjoy is French Chicken from Over The Big Moon. The only change I make from the original recipe is to use different brand names in order to make it gluten-free/dairy-free and cheaper. 

First I labeled my bags: name, cooking instructions, and date. I make two bags at a time. Then I added all my ingredients, splitting the french dressing equally between the two bags and adding four chicken breasts to each.

I cook it on high for 4 hours and serve it with rice and frozen veggies. I do have to prepare the rice when I get home but if I put it on when I come through the door, it's ready by the time I've changed and put my school stuff away.

I thought about doing one of those "800 slow cooker meals in 40 minutes" posts (ok, that might be a slight exaggeration) but I don't want to share it if J and I don't enjoy it. That means one recipe at a time. We've had a couple meals that we won't make again (and one we couldn't even eat the first time) but I'll save those for another post. 

4 You With Love Party Thyme

Shared at: Lines Across, My Pinterventures, Kathe With An E, A Stroll Thru Life, Sugar Bee Crafts, Ginger Snap Crafts, Clean & Scentsible, Fluster Buster, Upcycled Treasures, A Creative Princess, 4 You With Love, Glitter, Glue, and Paint, Diana Rambles, Serenity You

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Colour Burst Art

I've been spending some more time working on my guest room and finished another small, simple painting.

I started by drawing lines from a point to the edges of my paper, spacing them based on what I found to look good.

I then painted the lines using the same colours and my herringbone art.

Once it was dry I put it in an Ikea mat and frame, and then found it a home on the nightstand.

Unfortunately after this piece I lost my art-mojo. I've started and abandoned several additional pieces and have decided to leave painting for a while and move on to other projects.

Shared at: Life on Lakeshore Drive, Lines Across, My Pinterventures, Kathe With An E, A Stroll Thru Life, Sugar Bee Crafts, Ginger Snap Crafts, Clean & Scentsible, Fluster Buster, Upcycled Treasures, A Creative Princess, 4 You With Love, Glitter, Glue, & Paint, Diana Rambles, Serenity You

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

My First Quilt Part 1

I've been sharing little bits of my guest room with you but I haven't shown you the most important (in my opinion) part: the quilt.

I've never made a quilt before and don't actually know what I'm doing so there won't be a tutorial here but I'm excited to show you what I've done so far.

All fabrics in this quilt are from Pat Bravo's Indie line. I bought them from Moona Fabrics (this isn't a sponsored post) and love the bright colours and fun patterns. 

To start, I found a lovely picture on pinterest. The only problem was it didn't link to anything so I had to do some math and figure out sizes and measurements. Let me tell you, math is not my forte. Fortunately it all worked out.

I decided my meter stick and scissors weren't going to cut it (ahahah, I'm so punny) so I finally bought a rotary cutter and mat. I'm in love. Why did I not buy these tools sooner?

Anyway, once the pieces were cut I placed them on the bed. I decided I wasn't loving one of the fabrics but I'd bought extra so I swapped it out.

Next came the sewing, which was surprisingly quick. I pinned the pieces, and then ran them through the sewing machine.

My one piece of advice is one I read online but can't remember where: don't iron your seams. If you iron them, you can stretch the fabric. Instead, use the iron on the steam setting and press the seams flat.

Once each row was finished I sewed them together. This took a little shifting because, as I'd said, math is not my forte.

And that's where the project has stalled. School has been insane this year and I haven't had the time or energy to research how to make a border. 

Shared at: Fluster Buster, Ginger Snap Crafts, Glitter, Glue, and Paint, A Creative Princess, Natasha in Oz, Serenity You, Life on Lakeshore Drive, Lines Across, My Pinterventures, Kathe With An E, A Stroll Thru Life, Sugar Bee Crafts, 4 You With Love, Diana Rambles, Our SecondHand House