DIY: Faux starfish garland

| Wednesday, 26 August 2015



Not so long ago, I shared how to make faux starfish. I originally made them to decorate my son's birthday party, little accents to put on the table and on the shelves, but I ended up liking them so much that I started making other things with them. Like this new faux starfish garland!

Last year, I decided to change my living decor with each season. I've been working on different color combos and experimenting in the past year, and it will definitely evolve over time (what doesn't right?) but for this summer, as you noticed from my brushstroke wall art, I decided to go with a beach/ocean theme with peach/orange and mint/green as my accent colors. 



I really enjoy decorating and creating new pieces for my home. The process is slow because of everything else I need to do in the little time I have, but every time I sit in my living room, ideas just keep coming.

What color combo have you chosen for your living room decor? Do you go for bright colors or more neutral ones? Do you like changing things up once in a while? 

MATERIALS


Faux starfish
Rope
Tule ribbon
Thread

When you're making the starfish for this project, make sure that you poke a hole through one of the legs of the star so you can hang them. You can do this with a toothpick.

STEPS


Put the rope and the tule side by side and attach the starfish (through the hole!) at set intervals. You can measure about where you'd like the stars to be using a ruler. Then you hang it! I have little nails on my fireplace where I usually hang our Christmas stockings so I use those to attach the garland at every star, if you don't have those, you can simple add little push pins that you can remove later, or just hang it from each end (it'll give a slightly different look, but still fun!).





There you have it. I seriously love the end result.

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5 quick summer recipes for garden cucumbers

| Wednesday, 12 August 2015



For the past few summers, I've slowly been learning to grow my own fruits and veggies. I started with tomatoes; I tried growing them in pots, and in garden beds. I moved on to beans and lettuce, then tried carrots. This summer, I added fine herbs and cucumber.

Sometimes I wonder why more people don't have gardens at home, it's so easy! I mean, if you want to open up a business and maximize productivity, maybe not, but if you just want to garden for pleasure, you should seriously consider it.



Back to cucumbers. So I planted like, 8 seeds. I thought I'd plant a few more than I wanted because you always have loss. Some seeds don't germinate, others die when they're baby plants, and sometimes you get pests that eat your crop. I guess I was super lucky because none of that happened to my cucumber plants.

In case you don't know, cucumbers aren't like carrots. It's not one cucumber per seed. The plant grows into a really long vine which produce about 10-15 fruits per plant.  So we're looking at about 100 cucumbers in a matter about 2 months. Yeah.



My toddlers have taken a liking to picking and eating directly from the garden, so quite a few disappear daily. But I still have a LOT. So, I had to come up with ways to use them. Here are 5 of my favorite.

Have you tried growing your own fruits and veggies?


CUCUMBER MINT INFUSED WATER




Not so long ago, I shared my coconut lemonade recipe and although this is my go-to recipe for a nutrient boost and intense thirst quenching relief, I wanted something a bit more neutral in taste for the office. You can never have too many refreshing drink recipes for the summer.

INGREDIENTS
Cucumber
Mint
Water

DIRECTIONS
Wash, cut, mix. Let sit for a few minutes and enjoy!

I was pretty surprised at how much you can taste the cucumber in the water. It's super refreshing. You could even add a bit of lemon juice if you wanted. Once you're done you can either eat your slices of cucumber, or pour yourself another drink!


CUCUMBER CREAM CHEESE TOAST




I don't know about you, but when it's really hot outside, the last thing I want to do is eat a hot and heavy meal. Sometimes it's a spinach + lemon salad, sometimes it's some guacamole, but lately, with all these cucumbers growing in my garden, I had to get creative.

To be honest, it was a really hot day and I didn't want to cook. I just felt like eating a piece of bread. We had just spent the morning in the pool and the kids wanted to eat freshly picked cucumbers, so I thought we could make some cucumber sandwiches. 

Since my son is allergic to eggs, I usually replace mayo with humus. That day though, I had none in the fridge. I did find some cream cheese, which I buy to make the frosting for my egg free cupcakes. So bread, cucumber & cream cheese... just some protein missing. Seeds! I added a bit of chia and hemp.

INGREDIENTS
Bread
Cream cheese
Cucumber
Seeds (Optional - I used chia and hemp)
Salt + Pepper (Optional)

DIRECTIONS
1. Toast your bread + spread some cream cheese.
2. Wash + slice your cucumbers in the long using a mandoline .
4. Add some cucumber slices over the cream cheese then sprinkle some seeds, salt + pepper.


GREEK SALAD with OLIVE OIL




Oh my god you guys. Have you ever tasted freshly picked garden tomatoes? They're god sent. Seriously, it's like eating extra sweet and juicy grapes. Can you imagine? Winter grocery store tomatoes, you are a crime to nature.

INGREDIENTS
Cherry tomatoes
Cucumber
Feta cheese cubes
Olive oil (you could also use reduced balsamic vinegar as a dressing)
Red onion (Optional)
Salt + Pepper (Optional)

DIRECTIONS
1. Wash and cut all your ingredients (I leave out the onions because they're too strong for my toddlers).
2. Put everything in a salad bowl.
3. Add some olive oil, salt + pepper.
4. Instead of #3 you could also bring some balsamic vinegar to a boil and drizzle over your salad.


COLD YOGURT CUCUMBER SOUP




This totally sounds like mush doesn't it? Lol. I promise you it's not, it's actually quite refreshing and super delicious. Plus, it's fast, nutritious, and cold (such a treat on a very hot day!).

Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves: 2

INGREDIENTS
1 cups of plain yogurt
2 cucumbers
1 clove garlic
Salt + Pepper (Optional)

DIRECTIONS
Just clean and peal the cucumbers and garlic, and blend everything together. Season to taste and enjoy!


CUCUMBER CREAM CHEESE BITES




Just feel like eating a snack? Grab a cucumber, a knife, some cream cheese and dried fruit. Slice, dip, sprinkle and enjoy some cucumber cream cheese bites!


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DIY: Easy brush stroke abstract wall art

| Wednesday, 5 August 2015



Perfection. Is there even such a thing?

This weekend, I finally mustered up the courage to paint some abstract art for my living room decor. Courage you ask? Sounds silly doesn't it. The truth is, I often put projects aside because I worry it won't be "perfect" and I don't want to throw away my money making something I may not keep or love. Writing it down makes it seem pretty futile.

Ok, not wanting to waste money is pretty admirable in this day and age, but how can you learn anything, if you never try it? 



Do you guys remember this wall art I made for my son's room? Oh, and this mobile? It's been a while since I tried making some fun art to decorate my home and I missed it. It's so much fun and so easy.


MATERIALS

Acrylic paints (your choice of colors)
Brushes (different types)
Foam board
Empty palette

I  chose to use a foam board because it's cheaper than buying a huge canvas. This one is 20x30 inches. Before I commit to something, I like to try it out first and this seemed like the perfect way. I got the acrylics at the dollar store a long time ago and craft wise, it was probably the best investment I made. Sure, they aren't the best, but all the projects I've made with them have lasted a long time and the colors have not faded. Plus, the sizes are relatively big, so I get to use them on a lot of projects.



STEPS

1. Select your colors and brushes.
2. Starting with the biggest brush and your main color, paint simple strokes randomly.
3. Lighten your colors and add some more strokes with the same brush. Make sure you clean your brush between each color.
4. Using a different brush, add a simple pattern in a neutral color (I chose black dots).





And voilĂ ! Pretty easy and it took me a whole 10 minutes to make. Not bad right?

Personally, I like to contrast colors. Blue and yellow, orange and green... you get the idea. I find it adds a fun twist to any kind of art. I chose orange and turquoise for this piece because those are the accent colors I'm hoping to use for my summer decor. I'm a bit late starting I know, with all that's been happening around here I haven't exactly been inspired to do anything, but it's ok, because there's always next year.

I'm really excited to try decorating with different color palettes for each season. That way I don't have to commit to anything and we won't get tired of seeing any particular decor. I'm keeping all my main items neutral in color, white, black, dark brown and gold, so that it's easy to dress up.

Do you have any decor tips?

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My second birth story

| Wednesday, 29 July 2015

My second birth story. A positive natural childbirth experience.

I was going through my saved posts and I realized I never posted the birth story of my second child. It was over a year ago, but I really wanted to share it because it was such a beautiful and positive experience that I feel it can reassure future moms out there.

Let's get one thing straight before I get started though. Giving birth is giving birth. Even though my experience was positive, it wasn't easy and required a lot of strength, dedication and self-motivation (much like anything of value in life).

It all started on a Monday night. I had only just stopped working the previous Friday and I was looking forward to having a couple of weeks to pack my bags, get the baby's room ready, spend some quality alone time with my first son and relax a bit. It turns out my little bundle of joy had another plan for us.

At exactly 37 weeks of pregnancy, Z decided to make a surprise appearance into the world. I was excited to meet him but at the same time I was a bit scared. I think that's normal though, doesn't every mom panic when she goes into labor? I was actually pretty worried I'd deliver on the side of street midway to the hospital seeing as my first delivery went so fast.

I had an appointment with my OBGYN earlier that day, at around 5pm. After doing an internal exam (you know the one), she confirmed that I was neither dilated or effaced; as in, ZERO. Pretty normal for 37 weeks of pregnancy. I returned home completely oblivious to what was about to happen. I quickly cooked supper for my family and rushed to my prenatal yoga class on an empty stomach. When I returned home, I was pretty tired, so I went to relax in bed a few minutes as I checked social media on my iPhone. My husband walked in to bring me supper, so I moved over to sit up and that's when I felt it, this weird kind of "mini explosion" in my stomach, sort of like a balloon popping. My first thought: "Um, that's not normal."

Then it happened; as I stood up to get out of bed, water leaked between my legs. I was freaking out, I was like: "Oh my god, am I peeing? Wait, no, I can't be... I can't hold it in!! Oh my god oh my god is that what it's like to lose your water? That's so weird!" So I quickly made my way to the bathroom as water was literally gushing out of me. I never lost my water during my first delivery, so I had no idea!

Since we had absolutely nothing ready, my husband rushed around trying to wipe water off the floor and pack as quickly as he could. I couldn't help because every time I tried to move, more water came gushing out and we had to clean it up, so I just sat on the toilet and handled the panicking and the phone calls.

I called our babysitter so she could watch over my older son (who was sleeping for the night, thank god!) until my father arrived. After notifying my dad, I gave my mom a call. She was with my grand-mother taking care of my very sick grand-father. She was supposed to be part of my delivery team, but she was so far away that by the time she arrived, the baby was born. Boo-urns. Anyway, I remember giving my sister a call because I needed someone to talk to that could calm me down and help me focus.

The babysitter arrived and Antonio (my husband) had finished packing the car. I ended up having to put a dress on so that I could put a big rolled up towel between my legs to absorb the water which would not stop coming out! I'm pretty sure I scared our poor 11yo babysitter with that towel.

So we're in the car and I don't really have contractions, some mild discomfort, yes, but nothing too wild. Panic attacks though? Um, yes. I was so worried I would die in labor. I know, ridiculous in this day and age, but I'm a worry bug when it comes to things like that. We arrived at the hospital, parked the car relatively far since the parking lot is quite small and there's rarely any space available. I had no trouble walking all the way to the maternity ward.

We arrived and the nurse gave some forms to my husband and asked me to come in. She wanted me to sit so that she could plug me to a machine which would monitor the baby's heart. I was like, plug? Sure. Sit? Hell no. She was not happy because she couldn't watch the baby's heart rate if I wasn't sitting. Um, you can use your stethoscope lady, or some other tool. I know it's harder, but I don't care about your comfort, I care about my well being and the safe delivery of my child.

At this point I started having mild contractions, maybe every 2 or 3 minutes? Nothing unbearable. I kept telling her to bring me into a birthing room, that it wouldn't take long, but she wouldn't listen and she kept telling me to calm down. I think she was annoyed at me but I knew how my first delivery went and I didn't want to deliver in the hallway.

After about a half hour, she finally took me into a birthing room and since she hadn't offered a hospital robe, I took off all my clothes (one less thing to worry about). She sent another nurse and a student to take care of me, both of which had no idea what to do.

I asked for a birthing ball because I remembered how good it felt with my first. Sadly, it didn't work this time. When I tried to sit on it, the pressure on my pelvic area was unbearable. I had no clue how to position myself so I just stood up, placed my hands on the side of the bed and put my weight on my hands.

Contractions started to be a bit more intense at this point. I swayed from side to side between contractions and during contractions I squatted like a frog while doing my disturbingly long and low-pitched "ohm" sound. My husband was trying to massage my lower back and do pressure points like the nurse had shown him during my first delivery. Alas, he didn't remember where, or how, and it was doing more harm than good, so he stopped. He rubbed my back instead and brought me as many cold compresses as he could.

I remember the nurse asking me if I wanted laughing gas at one point and I'm pretty sure I gave her a death stare. I kept asking for things like ice and a massage and she didn't budge. I was seriously disappointed in the service she offered. To top it off, my mom hadn't arrived yet. I was doing it all alone. Next time I'm getting a Doula for sure.

Anyway, after a while I thought: "If this is anything like the first, I must be at around 7cm dilated now. It hurts so much and I have no help! I'm never going to make it to the end." I should have remembered that usually when you start wanting to give up, it's because the end is near...

Low and behold, it starts to push. I was in complete disbelief. I was like: "It's pushing, it's pushing!" I struggled to get onto the bed as the nurse said: "That's not possible, let's see how much you're dilated." As I got onto the bed on 4 legs, my body pushed a second time (note: my body, not me) and the head came out.

After that, all I remember is the doctor rushing in while putting her gloves on and asking: "Are you really going to deliver like that?" I starred. Enough said. She said push, I pushed once and the baby came out. He was born at 3 past midnight.

I turned, they put his little naked body on my chest and he pushed with his little arms to look up at me. It was magical. I let him snuggled with me a bit before helping him to my breast to eat. But that's another story...
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