Welcome to my blog about my wood burning creations! I'm so glad you're here!
You can also visit my Etsy site here, to see what items are available to purchase, and visit me on Facebook here!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

PB + J Monday


I’ve got an interesting one for you this week….

Have you thought about what you want to happen to you after you die?  Where do you want to go?  Do you want to be buried or cremated?  How about being turned into a tree??

Yes, a tree!  I found these two products that act like urns.  They are biodegradable and have the seed of a tree inside (you get to choose the tree).  They are buried in the ground and your ashes will then create a CO2 loving tree.  Thereby reversing your carbon footprint.  

The first is the Bios Urn. It is a biodegradable urn made from coconut shell, compacted peat and cellulose and inside it contains the seed of a tree. Once your remains have been placed into the urn, it can be planted and then the seed germinates and begins to grow. You even have the choice to pick the type of plant you would like to become, depending on what kind of planting space you prefer. 

http://bigthink.com/design-for-good/this-awesome-urn-will-turn-you-into-a-tree-after-you-die

The second is the Spiritree.  I like the name and the look of this one better. The Spirit Tree is a "seed-like container designed to function as a biodegradable two-piece cinerary urn that grows into a living memorial in the form of a tree."

There is a great discussion about it here.

It’s a great idea.  And I totally bought in to it.  I’d love to be a part of a forest cemetery rather than a burial ground full of grey gravestones.  It leaves more of a legacy, something physical that my loved ones can come to and feel comfort from as the tree grows bigger and stronger.

But, with everything there are arguments.  It’s a great gimmick but aren’t there other, cheaper, more natural ways to do the same thing?  And what about all the nasty emissions that are produced from the cremating process that needs to take place before you’re buried?  Depending on where you live, and the laws that are in place there, you could simply be wrapped in cotton and buried in a wood box.  Yes, it takes up more space than an urn but it allows the worms and other creatures to do their jobs in a more natural way.  Of course, you’d have to find somewhere that doesn’t embalm since having the embalming fluid leach into the ground isn’t good either.

After reading some articles and readers comments about the bio urns I was a little disappointed and felt that humans have even messed up the natural cycle of dying.  I had never really given it much thought but boy we really don’t seem to get that we’re animals too and naturally decomposing in the ground is ok.  We don’t need to be sealed tight in a metal casket, lined with silk and satin, filled with unnatural fluids.  

That was until I found this company:


They have a whole section of biodegradable urns.  So this concept isn’t new.  It’s just a gimmick to add the tree.  The Butterworth Company has paper urns that dissolve when placed in the water.  These are good for burials at sea.  They also have urns made of sand and cornstarch that breakdown once buried in the ground.  These are wonderful ideas and there are many styles and options to choose from.  I am starting to feel a little more confidence in the human race again.

I’m still undecided on what I’d like to have done.  I am an organ donor, which I think is extremely important, but after that I’m just not sure.  I’d like it to be as natural as possible.  And as easy and comfortable as possible for my family.  Being  planted with a tree seed would be ideal.  I will probably look into that option and other natural options further.  As great as these bio urns are, I think there must still be other ways to have a “green” ending.  And at the very least it has started me thinking about what I’d like.  

What do you think?  There are so many different view points on this.  How do you want your body “taken care of” after you die?

And one more question that's been nagging me...

How do your loved ones know which tree you are?  I guess that must be up to the cemetery or where every you end up being planted.  

I'd love to hear your point of view on this.  Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Foodie Friday


A couple of weeks ago the boys and I tried this new cookie recipe.  The cookies were pretty tasty and they sure didn’t last long (cookies never do in our house) but the texture was very different for me.  The addition of the crushed corn flakes was interesting.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad!  It just added something different to the cookie that I’m not used to.  Give it a try and tell me what you think...corn flakes a good idea or not?

Glazed Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup smooth peanut butter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup crushed corn flakes
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda

Icing
¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 Tbsp coffee

Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease cookie sheets.

In a large bowl, cream butter and peanut butter with both sugars until light and fluffy.  Stir in egg yolk and vanilla.

In another bowl, mix both flours, corn flakes, cocoa powder and baking soda together; stir into creamed mixture.  Turn out onto floured board and knead gently until dough holds together.

Pull off pieces of dough and shape into 1 inch balls.  Place on cookie sheet and flatten.  Bake 12 to 14 minutes until firm.

When done, transfer to wire racks and let cool completely before icing.

To prepare icing, melt chocolate chips over hot water, or in a double-boiler; set aside.

In a bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar and coffee, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.  Blend in melted chocolate.  Keep icing soft and spreadable by placing bowl in hot water.  Spoon icing generously onto cookies.

The recipe said this will make 4 dozen cookies.  We ended up with about 2 dozen cookies but I made them a little bigger than the 1 inch balls the recipe called for.

When it came time to do the icing I discovered we didn’t have any confectioners’ sugar!  I know!  Who doesn’t have confectioners’ sugar?!  Well we had some but it wasn’t nearly enough.  So I used this recipe for a chocolate glaze instead.  It was really quick and easy and tasted great.  If I use it again I will make more though, I ran out of the glaze for the last couple of cookies.

Chocolate Glaze

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp corn syrup

In a double-boiler, melt together butter, chocolate and syrup.   Once combined spread over cookies, or whatever else you think needs a little chocolate glaze...I’ll leave that part up to you.

You can also make this in the microwave.  You melt the chocolate chips first and then add the other ingredients.

We don’t have a microwave or a double-boiler so I use two sauce pans.  A bigger one boils a small amount of water while the smaller one, held carefully over the bigger one, holds the ingredients that requires melting.  It works for me and means we don’t have to find storage for another “thing” in our small kitchen.

Please let me know if you try this recipe.  I'd love to hear what you think of the corn flakes.

Monday, February 18, 2013

PB + J Monday


Today is "Family Day" in Canada.   The government decided that February was too long and that we needed some sort of break and so they came up with Family Day.

My 7 year old son asked me yesterday how many family days there were, since it means he doesn't have to go to school.  I told him that according to the government there is only one.  But depending on the family, every day could be family day.   It really just depends on how you spend it.

Speaking of family, I came across this, on Facebook again, by chance.  It's called the "Complete Disapearing Packaging Family".  I love the ingenuity and creativeness of Designer Aaron Mickelson.  

He has come up with http://disappearingpackage.com.  A project where he took five common household products and came up with solutions to reduce or eliminate packaging waste.  Take a look at his ideas here.  They are all physical prototypes that he himself made by hand to show that it was possible.

Every year, Americans generate a lot of solid waste. In 2010, 250 million tons, according to the EPA. A full 30 percent of that (about 76 million tons) comes from packaging — it’s the biggest culprit.

As awareness grows about this problem, many companies and designers are looking for solutions to green their packaging by either making it more recyclable, or reducing the amount. Mickelson wants to take that initiative all the way to its furthest extent and eliminate packaging waste entirely.
"My goal with The Disappearing Package was to expand the conversation on sustainable packaging,” Mickelson says. “I hope, at the end of the day, I have shown that sustainability can still be beautiful. I leave that up to my audience to decide.”

I really hope he (and other creative designers) continues his quest to solve the problem of excess packaging.  These ideas are brilliant.  I especially like the Glad garbage bags and Tide pods that are their own packaging.   The tea and soap are pretty cool too.


What do you think?  Is there a product you don't like to buy and bring home because of the extra packaging?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Foodie Friday


Ok, I have saved one of our family’s absolute favourite comfort foods for this week.

Why this week?  I have no idea.  It just seemed like the right time and I think you’re ready for this incredible cold winter comfort food experience.

Do you feel ready?  I hope so because here we go…..

This week’s comfort food recipe is…..

SLOW COOKER GUINNESS STEW!

Now it sounds a bit daunting but the only special items you need are a slow cooker and a can or bottle of Guinness.  What is Guinness???  Are you serious?   It’s like water or milk around here for my husband.  It’s a staple and necessity of life.  Let’s just say he likes it very much and therefore he also likes this stew very, very much.
Guinness is an irish beer that is more like a meal all on its own.  Here’s a little about Guinness if you really don’t know what it is.  And if you haven’t heard of Guinness before I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below.  

Ok, enough preamble, here is the knock-your-socks-off, eat-till-you-can’t-eat-anymore, fabulous, fantastic, fantazmagorical (word?) Guinness Stew...

Mouth watering?  I thought so!

Slow Cooker Guinness Stew


Slow Cooker Guinness Stew

1 (400ml) can Guinness
2 cups beef stock
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 carrots, cut in 1” pieces
1 large potato, cut in 1” pieces
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
2 onions, cut in wedges
2 Tbsp butter
2-3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 kg chuck or round steak (stewing beef)
salt + pepper
2 Tbsp flour
¼ cup flour
½ cup water
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Stir beer, stock, garlic, carrots, potatoes, rosemary and thyme in ceramic part of cooker.

Caramelize onions in butter and sugar in saucepan.  Then add to cooker.

Sprinkle beef lightly with flour, salt and pepper.  Brown meat, mix in cooker.

Cook for 8 hours on Low or 4-5 hours on High.

If you find it a bit bitter from the beer, a little brown sugar.

After cooking, mix flour and water in small cup.  Add mixture to stew, set on high, stir till thick.  

Add parsley and serve.
All done!

We had our stew with these easy and really cute cheddar cheese biscuits that my 7 year old and I made.

Delicious cheddar cheese biscuits.
Perfect for soaking up the stew juices that's left behind in the bowl.

I found some of these fun ads for Guinness....














Do you have a favourite comfort food?  I’d love to hear what it is in the comment section.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

PB + J Monday


Here's a great video about plastic...

I find it hard to consider completely eliminating plastic.  It's been a part of our lives for so long it's hard to make such a radical change.  I think part of the challenge for us, and I hate to blame them, is having kids.  It's easier and cheaper to use plastic and yet plastic is certainly not better for our bodies and our planet.  I am happy to say that we do follow the majority of these tips.  The only one we need to work on is #6.



This online store has some fabulous and creative ways to reduce and replace your everyday plastic items with non plastic alternatives.  Even plastic wrap!


Do you have any creative or unique ways to reduce plastic in your lives?  I'd love to hear it.  I'm always looking for new things we can try in our home and lives.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

So Exciting!!!


I was on the Front Page of Etsy today!!  First time for me and my little shop!!  Very exciting!!



Here's the treasury if you'd like to take a look...

http://www.etsy.com/treasury/MTg2MjY1NTd8MjcyMzk1NTExMg/treasuries-undiscovered

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I enjoy skimming through Facebook


I really do enjoy seeing what interesting things people have posted on Facebook.  Things that I never would have found on my own.  Sure, it "wastes" time but it also gives me a way to interact with my friends and other people that doesn't drain my energy, as explained in this oh-so-clever Guide to Understanding Introverts from www.lolsnaps.com

So if you want to learn something very important about me, read on....
(for a bigger version click on the picture)



Friday, February 8, 2013

Foodie Friday


Happy Friday!

Is it warm where you are?  We have had crazy weather here.  One week it's unbearably cold and the next it feels like Spring is coming.  It is so hard to know what to wear.
But I do know that when the cold temperatures are upon us it brings out the deep desire to be warm and cozy and enjoy our favourite comfort foods.  Last week I shared Oven Fried Chicken and this week I will share my absolute favourite homemade Mac and Cheese ultimate comfort food recipe.

This is so delicious you won't be able to stop yourself from having more than one serving.  I'm serious!

This recipe makes a lot and is great for freezing so you can save it for those days when you just don't know what to cook and you want something easy and tasty.   Just make sure you use a large pan!

Homemade Mac and Cheese


Mac & Cheese

1 lb macaroni
1 can tomato soup
1 can diced tomatoes, drained well
1 pkg cream cheese, softened
3 cups shredded or cubed cheddar (or mixed cheese)
1-2 cloves garlic
8 Tbsp butter, divided
¼ cup dry bread crumbs (or other favourite crunchy topping)

Heat oven to 350F

Cook pasta.  

In very large bowl, combine pasta, soup, tomatoes, cream cheese and 6 Tbsp of butter.  Make sure cream cheese is mixed in well before baking.

Pour into 9x13 baking dish.  Top with bread crumbs and dot with remaining butter.

Bake 30-40 minutes until golden and bubbly.

All ingredients combined in a very large bowl.

Almost ready to go in the oven.

Bread crumbs and wheat germ with butter for topping.

This is all you need for a complete and satisfying meal.  Enjoy!

Do you have a favourite comfort food?  I'd love to hear what it is in the comments.




Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

A complete 180 from last week's Wordless Wednesday post.  This was taken at the beach near our home on Sunday...





Monday, February 4, 2013

PB + J Monday

Not our house, but one on our street.
I've got some fun and interesting things coming up for PB + J Mondays.  But since they're not ready yet I thought I'd share some Eco-Friendly ideas to save on heating...which will only work for you if you live in a colder area like we do.

Easy ways to cut your heating bill:

~When you feel chilly, warm yourself first, instead of the whole room.  Put on a sweater while watching TV (or get up and exercise).

~Put an extra blanket on the bed at night; don't turn up the thermostat.  "Experts suggest that the optimal room temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 70 degrees F."

What could be better than wrapping yourself in this cozy quilt
on a cold winter's day?
This one, and more, are available at
www.marylandquilter.etsy.com  
~When you are asleep or out of your house, turn your thermostat back 10-15 degrees for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills.  A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.

~Take advantage of heat from the sun: Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at ight to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

~Cover drafty windows: Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on frames or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during he cold winter months.   Or install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.

~Maintain our heating systems.  Furnaces: Replace your furnace filter once a  month or as needed.  Wood and pellet burning heaters: Clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your home is heated efficiently.

That's just a few suggestions for this week.  I will be sharing more green ideas and tips every Sunday, on my Facebook page.  Until next time, stay warm!


Friday, February 1, 2013

Foodie Friday


I am continuing with comfort food recipes and this week I am sharing…..drumroll please…..the magnificent…..

MEATLOAF  

Need I say more? 

Ok, I will, just cuz that’s who I am.  If you know me you know I can talk your ear off if given the chance.

Meatloaf is hands down one of the best comfort foods around.  It is so delicious when it’s fresh and hot right out of the oven but it is also great in a sandwich the next day.  You can’t go wrong with meatloaf.  It’s cheap, easy, contains ingredients that most people already have in their kitchens and generally doesn’t have leftovers that last more than a day or two.

Ok, that’s all.  I think you see my point.  Here’s the recipe so you can go and enjoy your own yummy, comfort food meatloaf tonight...

Meatloaf


1 ½ lbs ground beef
1 can condensed tomato soup, divided
1 pkg stuffing for chicken
1 egg, beaten
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
¼ cup chili sauce

Heat oven to 350F.

Mix meat, ½ can of soup, stuffing, egg, onion and thyme in bowl.  Don’t be afraid to use your hands to mix it up completely.  

Press evenly into 8x4 loaf pan.

Bake 55 minutes, or until meat is fully cooked.

Heat remaining soup and chili in small sauce pan.  Spool over meatloaf just before serving.

We don’t normally have chili sauce in our home so I substitute that with BBQ sauce.  It works great and gives it a nice tang!
6 ingredients in a bowl.



Ready to bake.
Baked and smelling yummy!




On a plate for one of my boys.