Outdoor Fall Decor

outside sign

Happy first day of Fall!

I love fall. I love the leaves changing colour, the crispness in the air, and the fact that I can wear long pants again.

I also love outdoor decorating, but I must admit that I don’t go all out in the fall like I do at Christmas or in the summer. I usually just grab a mum from the grocery store and toss it in a planter.

I am hoping to up my game this season and to get inspired I went through several blogs to get some ideas.

I am sharing my top ten with you today.

outside

This beauty is from everythinggl.com. I love a good place to relax outdoors in the Fall.

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What an entrance! If I had the room on my front steps I would definitely try for this look which comes from homestoriesatoz.com

fall-outdoor-decor-golden-pumpkins

My husband will tell you that I am currently obsessed with gold so this is by far my favourite outdoor look. It is from damaris-daria.blogspot.ca

lanterns

Sometimes simple is the way to go. If my steps weren’t so narrow and if I had a front porch you can bet I would have these beautiful lanterns from cottagemarket.com

wagon

This one comes from Better Homes & Gardens. The wagon is a bit much for me but I love the writing on the pumpkins.

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I love this because it would actually be feasible for me. It is simple but still elegant. From worthingcourtblog.com

mums

Mums are a cheap and easy way to decorate for fall and they look fantastic placed in crates and planters. This look comes to us from budgetdecorating.com

halloween

If you love decorating for Halloween but aren’t a fan of zombies, skeletons or witches then check out this front porch from theperfectpallete.com

planters

I am smitten with these planters from dirtsimple.com! They are breathtaking.

log

I am loving this candle holder made from a tree branch from weddingomania.com. It would be beautiful to use on a crisp fall night.It won’t be warm enough to eat outside for much longer so we should take advantage of the weather while we can.

I hope you were inspired by these blogs and are ready to get outside and decorate! I know I am!

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Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever!

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I cannot believe it is the first day of school today. It is so hot here that I am still convinced it is August.

I am trying to be more organized this year since the kids are going to a new school which starts 10 minutes earlier and is now a 20 minute walk away. The old school was about a 30 second walk which I much preferred.

So in order to not have early morning freak outs about making lunches I have started to pack things like crackers, cookies and fruits for the week in individual containers so I can just toss them in. It is much faster than cursing for several minutes while looking for things to feed my kids.

One back to school staple that my kid’s cannot live with out is chocolate chip cookies. Trouble is they never last long enough to make it into their lunches. They are so delicious and chewy that no one can resist them.

This year in an effort to keep myself from being a glutton I made them and individually packed them and then tossed them in the freezer so I won’t be tempted. I take them out at the beginning of the week and I only take out one for each of the kids.

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Here is the recipe:

2 cups all purpose flower

3/4 cup melted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 white sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Combine butter and sugars until blended

Add in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Mix until light and creamy

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Add in your dry ingredients and mix until it just starts to cling to your mixer’s paddle. If making by hand mix until just blended.

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Add in the chocolate chips and mix for a few seconds

I use a tablespoon to measure out my cookies. I do this for two reasons. First,  is a perfect portion size so I can eat 6 cookies and not feel too guilty, secondly all the cookies are the same size so they bake evenly.

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Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until they are a nice golden brown.

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This recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies and is a perfect after school snack with a glass of milk.

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Enjoy!

 

Fall Off the Bone Ribs

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This weekend is Rib Fest. In our house we call it the most wonderful time of the year.

We only live a block away from the park where it is held so all weekend long we can hear the crowds, the bands playing and smell all the ribs cooking.

I am getting hungry just thinking about it!

As much as I love Rib Fest I can not go more then once. It is just too expensive and very crowded!

It is also insanely hot every year and I can’t tolerate the heat.

I love ribs and a good pulled pork sandwich as much as the next guy but standing in a long line in sweltering heat is not my idea of a great time.

So as an homage to Rib Fest I am making some delicious, sticky and sweet ribs at home.

These are an all day affair. Between the marinating time and the cook time its about 8 hours.

But they are so worth it!

Fall Off the Bone Ribs

2 racks of pork ribs (or beef ribs if that is what you are in to)

First you need to make your rub.

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons paprika

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon pepper

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Before you can start rubbing your ribs you need to remove the silver skin on the underside

Insert your knife under the skin and twist up creating a hole

Grab the skin and pull from one end to the other

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Now apply the rub

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Wrap in foil for put in the fridge on a baking sheet for several hours. I have been tight on time and only done one hour and they were still delicious.

After the ribs finish in the fridge you need to slow cook them in the oven

I cook mine at 225 degrees for 3 hours

Keep them in the foil and on the baking sheet

After the three hours is up it is time for the BBQ

I keep them on the foil for two reasons:

1) it keeps my grill clean

2) sometimes the meat starts to fall off the bone and I don’t want it to fall between the grates.

Now it’s time to make the sauce

I use this sauce for ribs, chicken and hamburgers

You will need:

3/4 cup of ketchup

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients in a small sauce pan. Let simmer until bubbles start. Take off the heat and let sit for at least 5 minutes before using

Slather the sauce on the ribs at the tail end of cooking that way your sauce doesn’t burn

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Remove from BBQ and cut into pieces and enjoy

As much as I love Rib Fest and all the different vendors and types of food there are, there really is nothing better then sitting on your back porch with a cold beer and a rack of ribs.

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Farewell Old Friend-Sugar cookies with Royal Icing

Today is the last day of school for my kids.

While we are super excited about summer vacation we are also sad because our school is closing.

We have been lucky enough to spend the last 7 years surrounded by amazing teachers and families that have supported the school community through out the years.

Everyone is sad but also optimistic for the future. Three schools will be amalgamating and forming one large school.

The idea of 600 plus children in one space is overwhelming to all of us. Our school has 200 and some days that seems like too many.

The plus side of this is that the kids will be able to make new friends and will have a state of the art facility. There is always a silver lining.

So today we say goodbye to a school that has stood for 95 years. It was there during the great depression and through World War 2. It has seen families from all walks of life come through it’s doors. It educated our children and was a safe place for all. It supported those that could not afford to feed their families or buy Christmas presents for their kids. It is truly a happy place. It is a community.

Of course you can’t have a school community without teachers. They are the back bone of the school and they deserve a huge thank you for all that they have done for our students and our community.

The best way I know of to say thank you is to bake.

Sugar cookies are an easy and tasty gift to give.

I got the sugar cookie recipe from Sweetopia

Sugar cookies can be very time consuming. They are easy to make but you have to chill the dough for a long time.

I roll out my dough and chill it for at least 2 hours.

I also chill the dough after cutting out the shapes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. If your dough is warm it will spread and that just looks awful!

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Next comes the royal icing. I always find it tricky to get the right consistency. Too stiff and you won’t be able to flood the cookies. Too watery and your outline will be running down the sides of your cookie. I found this recipe and it has never failed me.

I based my cookies on the school t-shirts which is a collegiate style M and stars. I got the cookie cutters from cheapcookiecutters.com

A lot of people do the outline and then let the cookie sit for a while before they flood it. That’s not the way I roll. I like a seamless finish and I flood the cookie as soon as the outline is done.

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I make sugar cookies for the teachers each year. This year I made them for all the teachers in the school. It was time consuming but so worth it. Everyone loved them.

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mem cookies

Here are a few pictures of cookies I have made for the teachers in the past few years

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ice cream

Today is bitter sweet. We say goodbye to an old friend and are getting ready to move forward into a new community with familiar and unfamiliar faces. Change can be daunting but as a good friend told me today, sometimes you need change and a challenge to be the best that you can be. So we will shed our tears and celebrate an amazing place filled with memories that will be cherished for years to come and continue forward on the path that we need to take.

Farewell Memorial School

Bathroom Makeover Reveal

bathroom pic

Back in February or March I mentioned that I had the great idea to give our bathroom a face lift.

I had this genius idea at the same time that we were painting our bedroom and finishing off Callum’s room.

Do you ever get in those zones where you start one project and then you feel like adding three more won’t be any extra hassle?

Well it wasn’t so much a hassle to me as it was to Chris.

My job was to clean out the bathroom. As I have mentioned before I am not allowed to touch paint so Chris took care of that.

I am also not allowed to touch sharp objects because I am a tad clumsy so that meant Chris had to put in the floor as well.

The nice thing about not doing the work is that you can take a bunch of pictures.

Here is what our bathroom looked like before

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It was dark because of the large cabinet that blocked out a lot of the light over the vanity. You could barely see when you were in the shower. The paint colour didn’t help either. I would do my make up in the bathroom and afterwards see myself in natural lighting and realize that I had completely over done it or I hadn’t blended things in as well as I thought.

There was a medicine cabinet over the toilet and it was a crowded mess. I’m pretty sure I threw out 90% of what was in there.

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The doors on the vanity were uneven and looked awful.

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Don’t even get me started on the floors! That tile was terrible!

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The last time this bathroom had some TLC was in the 90’s and it showed.

First things first. I had to clean out the cabinets. Turns out I am a bit of a hoarder. I had been hanging on to make up and hair products from 2005. I have no idea why I do this. I use a grand total of 5 products every day and that includes both hair and make up and yet I can not say good bye to the eye lash curler I have never used or the keratin hair straightening kit I bought in 2010 and never opened.

Well all that junk is gone now.

The next step was to start ripping out the cabinets. That was easy. They were relatively light and came apart easily.

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The tall cabinet had been glued to the wall. Who glues a cabinet to a wall?! This left behind some torn drywall that Chris had to scrape off and then mud over.

He was not a happy camper.

After the walls were prepped the painting began.

We chose a colour called Ceylon Cream by Behr.

In the store it looked like a light cream but in reality it is more of a light beige. I am still not sure if I like it.

When I told Chris I wasn’t happy with the colour he gave me a look that said “too bad lady you’re stuck with this for years so don’t mention it again.”

When the painting was done Chris started the flooring.

We chose Vinyl planks that looked like hardwood. I have always loved the look of wood floors in the bathroom but it just isn’t practical with kids that still splash so much water out of the tub.

The flooring went down very quickly and was easy to cut even around the tub. We just put it down right over the old tile.

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The big challenge was getting the vanity upstairs.

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It  had been in our dining room for weeks and just getting it behind the table was a challenge. It weighed about 300 pounds because the granite top had been glued on. We had to ask our super strong Cross fit neighbours to help us.

They lifted it over their heads and moved it up the stairs the same way I would carry a stuffed animal. These people are seriously strong!

Once the vanity was in and all the plumbing had been hooked up it was time to think about mirrors and lighting.

I got the mirrors from Home Sense for $29 each and the lights were from Home Depot.

light

Instead of a medicine cabinet behind the toilet we decided on floating shelves from Ikea. I’m not sure how it worked but adding in three large shelves made that little space look huge compared to when we just had that little medicine cabinet up.

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Over all I am thrilled with how the bathroom turned out.

It is nice and bright in there even without the light on.

I know Chris wasn’t thrilled when I suggested we tackle the bathroom but he did a great job and he is much happier with how it looks.