Life and Homemade Kettlecorn.

As adults, we have so much going on that days slip away in an instant, which turns into weeks and months.  How easy is it to walk in the door after a long day and be so tired, you microwave something for dinner and watch TV until you fall asleep?  How easy is it to waste precious time mindlessly browsing the internet?  How easy is it to give your full self to your work, and be so busy with that you forget about other aspects of life?  It is hard to find the energy to go to the gym, spend time in the kitchen doing home cooking, and and be “present” as a wife, mother, daughter, whatever your roles may be.

This is something I have been finding hard lately.  The evenings are spent trying not to fall asleep before 8pm.  So The Artist and I devised a plan.  We decided to think about what we wanted, and what was important to us, and how we would incorporate that into our lives.  It is like a vicious circle….you’re too tired to go to the gym or cook a meal, but if you exercise and eat well you will have more energy.  One day, it was like “enough is enough”!  This cycle of no exercise, bad eating, and crashing in front of the TV every night HAS to stop!  Here is what we decided we want; more time together, a clean apartment, more home cooking and healthier eating, more sleep, more exercise.  These are our goals to achieve them.

1. Go to the gym 2-3 times a week to lift weights together.  Yoga etc. at home on the “off” days for me.  Lots of exercise during weekdays, so weekends are reserved for “fun exercise” like a day walking around the zoo.

2. Home cooked meals every week night.  Even if it is leftovers, it is healthy, balanced left overs.  We like to make meals in bulk solely to have leftovers 🙂  Weekends are for extra special homemade meals that are more time consuming (we put on some music, pour some rum, and make a night of it!).  Or the opposite: we have “cheat” meals like chicken strips or poutine.

3. We limit mindless internet browsing.  We catch up on how each other’s days went, and then sometimes returning Facebook messages or reading the latest on blogs I follow is a good way to wind down.  In the evening hours, we try to limit this to 15 minutes. The Artist uses the internet during the day when he has some free time, and I like to “browse” in the mornings when I first get up.  So only 15 minutes in the evenings isn’t so bad because we have used our “non-together” time to complete emails and check out our favourites sites already.

4. We do one thing together every day.  Whether it is cook a meal together, watch a movie together, play cards, etc. we do at least one thing together per day.  This comes naturally, and isn’t really something we have to think about.

5. We do one fun outing or event together each weekend.  Sort of like a date night.  We might go to Forest Park, the zoo, thrifting, we might marathon a TV show until 3am all snuggled up on the couch, or even decorate for an upcoming holiday.  Recently, we went to a fundraiser for an organization I used to volunteer at and caught up with friends, and went to the zoo!  The sea lion loved The Artist.

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6. The Artist does day to day household chores like dishes and making the bed.  We don’t have a dish washer, so they pile up on the counter quickly!  I do the more weekly jobs during weekends like laundry, cleaning the bathroom, or dusting.  That way, our place stays clean and neat and we share the chores.  For both of us, a clean and tidy place makes relaxing easy.  It is hard to relax your body and mind you are surrounded by a mess.

7. We do things for ourselves, at least once a week.  For example, I am taking a pottery class right now.  It is something I am doing just for me, and that I have been wanting to do for awhile.  Or writing a blog post on here 😉  And as of lately, the Artist likes to browse magazines with a coffee when I am out and about.

8. Minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night.  Minimum.  No less.  Sleep is something we value and that is important to us.  Every night, we think of what time we are getting up the next day, and count 8 hours (minimum!) backwards to get and idea of when we will go to bed.  We also leave lots of time for teeth brushing, and actually falling asleep.  So if we are getting up at 8am, by 10pm the night before we will settle down and do quieter activities, usually watching TV.  By 11pm we are getting ready for bed and brushing our teeth.  And sometime between 11pm-12am, we are asleep.  So that is 8-9hrs of glorious slumber.

Now, these things sound sort of obvious, and I get that.  But as we get older and our careers and families begin to blossom, these things are easily forgettable.  I know lots of couples who spend very little quality time together, and lots of people who forget about their hobbies and interests because watching TV after a long is much easier and more desirable- let alone remember to eat well and exercise.  And I can especially think of many busy folks who don’t get enough sleep and are tired on a daily basis.  I understand there are lots of reasons as to why, and that is fine.  But at this time in our lives, we don’t have many reasons as to why we can’t get more sleep, so we are taking advantage.  I am sure this will change should be we lucky enough to have children one day.

And honestly, having this conversation and making this list helped 100%.  We felt like the days were slipping by and we weren’t stopping to smell the roses in life- and we were not ok with that.  It brought these wants and needs to our attention, and we decided on realistic goals.  From thereon out, there was a difference.  We no longer feel like like life is flying past us.  We have healthier bodies, more energy then before, active hobbies and interests, and we are not being lost in the dust ❤

During one of our stay-at-home nights together, we watched a movie late at night, when the rest of the world was quiet and peaceful.  We made a “nest” of blankets and pillow on the couch and I made some homemade kettle corn.  It was a fabulous night.  Here is my recipe 🙂

1/3 canola oil

1/3 white sugar

1/2 cup popcorn kernels

salt to taste

In a large pot (that has a lid), heat the oil.  I like to throw in a kernel and when it pops, the oil is hot enough.  Turn of the heat and add the sugar and stir.  Add the popcorn kernels and return to medium-high heat.  Hold the lid on the pot with oven hits on your hands on each side.  Alternate shaking the pot up and down, side to side, and in circles for a few seconds.  Place on heat for a few seconds.  Repeat back and forth, shaking, and having it sit on the burner, for a few seconds each.  Do this until it is all popped, there will be several seconds in between kernels popping.  Remove from pot immediately into a serving bowl and add salt.  Stir gently.

Notes:

– leaving the popcorn solely on the burned will burn it (badly)

– solely shaking it and not alternating having it sit on the burner will take forever for everything to pop, it just doesn’t get hot enough

– I have a gas stove, all stoves will be different and temperature will vary

– the first time or two I made this, I scorched it (like the sugar went black and it was a disaster to clean lol!) so it might take practice

– it is worth it because it is delicious 😉

– when you pour the popcorn into the serving bowl, it will be sticky- don’t worry, it will cool almost instantly and be very crunchy

– it may seem like there is barely any sugar or anything on the popcorn at first, but there isn’t much colour in this, when it cools, it is the texture that you will notice, and each piece should be coated (the picture below looks like plain popcorn, but it is all shiny from the sugar!)

– when I add the salt, I gently toss/stir to avoid the popcorn sticking into a bowl-shaped chunk as it cools

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DIY Bleached Jean Jacket!

The Artist and I love to thrift shop.  I had been wanting a jean jacket lately, and hadn’t been finding anything that I liked.  So one day while thrifting, the Artist held up a jean jacket and said I should try it on.  I did not like the colour at all, but then he said if it fits nicely, he could bleach it to what I want.  GENIUS!  It was a perfect fit.  I took home my jacket that cost only a few dollars, $3-$4 I think it was, the Artist made some magic happen.  He has worked with bleach in his works before, and was very familiar with how to handle it.  I was after a blotchy look, where the jacket was lighter coloured and the seams were darker.  Here are some tips on what he did!

This is how it started:

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Firstly- wear gloves to do this, in a well ventilated area or outside.

1. He started off diluting the bleach with water to gauge how quickly and severely it would affect the fabric.  Al fabrics react differently.  After a while, he started using undiluted bleach as the fabric was holding up very well.

2. He used a paintbrush to apply it.  That way, he could control where the bleach went, and how much, versus dunking it in a bucket.  And I wanted the seams to be dark still.

3. He “splattered” and “dripped” bleach onto it as well.

4. When it looked almost done, we vigorously dunked it in a bucket of just water we had waiting.  This will stop the bleaching process.  Stopping it when almost done worked well, because even though we dunked it in water it still continued to get a little lighter for a few minutes afterwards.

5. After vigorously dunking, I took it inside and washed it in the bathtub with laundry soap, again, vigorously.  The goal is to stop the bleaching process and rinse the jacket of all the bleach.

6. I let it air dry, and then added it to a load of laundry in the washer to get rid of the remaining bleach smell, and air dried again.  I prefer to air dry most of my clothes so they don’t shrink, and didn’t want to risk this jacket shrinking.  I don’t know how the dryer would affect a bleached item.

We thought it might need some touch ups, but it didn’t.  For touch ups, we planned on dabbing it with bleach where needed, but it didn’t need it.

And after all that- I have what I had been looking for 😀  Watching my jacket get created was like watching the Artist paint.  He is so talented in so many ways, and I get to witness true works of art in every day situations ❤

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Re-Vamping Brownies from a Box

One thing that I have never mastered is a good, go-to recipe for homemade brownies.  I just always have preferred the kind from a box.  If you use coupons, the brownies from a box are much cheaper, easier, faster, and as I said, I have always much preferred the taste.  However, my brownies from a box have been far too cakey…..and if you know me, you will know how much I LOVE super fudgey, ultra gooey brownies.  Here are my tips to vamping up your boxed brownies to make them melt-in-your-mouth fudgey.

1. I prefer to use the 13x9in family size package, because I am a piggy for brownies, and so is the artist.  And I can usually find coupons for them as well.  The directions usually say to add water, but I replace the water with milk.  Both 1% and 2% have worked for me with no noticeable difference between the two.  And I hold the measuring cup over the mixing bowl and let it overflow a tad.

2. The directions usually say to add some oil.  Again, hold the measuring cup over the mixing bowl and let it overflow a little.  I also use canola oil versus olive oil.  Olive oil has a low smoke point, which will turn it rancid at a lower temperature.  I like to use olive oil “raw”, like in a salad or a cold dish.  Canola oil is also generally cheaper.  I have never tried subbing it for butter or another fat, so I can’t vouch for those.  But if you experiment, let me know how it goes!

3. The 13x9in family size usually includes 2 eggs in the recipe.  Do not use only one egg, use two. 4. Mix carefully and gently with a whisk, until just mixed.  Mixing too much and/or too fast whips too much air into the batter and they get way too fluffy.  These tips are for fudgey, gooey brownies 🙂

4. Grease the pan generously with salted butter and pour the batter in.  Bake at 350 F for less time then it says on the package.  Check at 15 minutes, and again at 20.  The goal is to take them out as soon as an inserted toothpick comes out clean, and not a minute later.  They may seem a little underdone in the middle when looking at it, but after approx. 23 minutes ours were perfect.  Times will vary depending on your oven, but the idea is to take it out right as soon as the toothpick comes out clean.  When we check at 15 minutes and 20 minutes, it comes out wet.  And then at 23-ish minutes it comes out clean.  They will continue to cook for a few minutes after you take them out until they are cooled.

When served with ice cream and caramel drizzle, it’s heavenly.  The edges are a bit crispy, combined with the gooiest middle…..yum!

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