Nov 28, 2012

Snow Day

We had our first big snowfall of the year this past weekend. And it managed to happen the day I was planning to go into the forest and collect branches for my Off the Wall Christmas Tree. But we went anyway. We bundled up, put coats on the dogs, and set off.

The forest was absolutely gorgeous. Very few people had been there that day so the snow was sparkling in the sun. Doesn't it look like a painting? No fancy editing - this is the real deal.

Vivian Regional Forest - Turtles and Tails blog

The dogs had an awesome time chasing each other all over the place. Chloe even took a header when she tripped over a log that was buried in the snow. Poor girl. But she was right back up and off again.

This is the pond where we throw balls to Chloe in the summer. We throw the ball, she flings herself into the water and swims to fetch it. Then waits for us to throw again. She didn't care if it was cold though - she saw a chunk of ice in the water and thought it was a tennis ball. We had to hurry to keep her from going for it.

Vivian Regional Forest - Turtles and Tails blog

Vivian Regional Forest - Turtles and Tails blog


"Throw the ball already!"

Vivian Regional Forest - Turtles and Tails blog


In the forest itself, the snow was deep. Did I mention I was carrying all of the branches we gathered? Workout? Check.


Vivian Regional Forest - Turtles and Tails blog


I love snowy noses so much.

Rottweiler Sasha - Turtles and Tails blog

Mastiff-Rottweiler Chloe - Turtles and Tails blog


This looks like, "I can't feel my feet. Do I still have feet?"

Mastiff-Rottweiler Chloe - Turtles and Tails blog

After our walk, we drove down the road that edges the forest and looked at the houses. Just to give you a reference, these places sell for over $1 million each. Out of our price range a bit. But it's nice to dream.



Do you see what I see?

Vivian Regional Forest - Turtles and Tails blog
(Not a real moose. It's a statue.)


Such a beautiful day!




Nov 26, 2012

Christmas Tree Off the Wall? No, It's on the Wall!

Wow, what a busy weekend! I don't think I stopped to breathe once! I ran 6km, took the dogs for a hike through the snowy woods to gather branches, cooked meals for the entire week, sanded a few kitchen cabinet doors, and put up my first Christmas decorations.

Christmas branch tree on the wall - Turtles and Tails blog

Sweet, right?

We don't have a lot of space in the basement family room, so a tree that takes up next to no floor space is just the thing.

Christmas branch tree on the wall - Turtles and Tails blog

We took the dogs tromping through Vivian Forest on Saturday to find fallen tree branches. We were looking for one fairly straight, at least 3 feet long, and in graduating diameters. I took one of those huge IKEA bags to carry them all in (plus some gorgeous greenery) and had it slung over my shoulder like a quiver. Yes, Tom made me carry the whole thing. But he picks up the dog poop, so I guess it's a fair trade off.

Once home, we cut the branches down to the correct lengths and then drilled a small hole through the midpoint of each one. I planned to string twine down through the centre of each one and hang it all together. You could attach each branch individually to the wall, but I thought that was going to end up being a lot of nail holes so I went with the twine..

I then put as many of the branches in the oven as would fit, and baked them at 200 degrees to make sure no bugs would make an appearance later. I learned from the fall acorns and never want to experience that again.


Using a large darning needle I pulled about 5 feet of twine through the hole in the first branch and tied a knot under the branch to hold it in place. I then pulled the needle and twine through the next branch, made sure there was about a 4 inch gap between the two branches and tied a knot under the second one. I then continued on until all of the branches were strung.

Christmas branch tree on the wall - Turtles and Tails blog

The whole thing weighs at least 20 pounds so we used a "biter" picture-hanging hook to hang it from the wall. I used a left over piece of the last branch as a tree stump, wrapped the remaining twine around it, and wedged it between the lowest branch and the floor.


We used double-sided tape in strategic spots to keep the branches level on the wall, and zigzagged a string of 100 mini-lights back and forth down the tree, hooking them over the ends of the branches (and using staples a couple of times to hold them in place).

Christmas branch tree on the wall - Turtles and Tails blog

The double-sided tape isn't very strong so I had to use the lightest ornaments we had and just a few of them at that. I settled on the drums (a personal favourite) and violins that we've had for years.

drum ornament - Turtles and Tails blog

violin ornament - Turtles and Tails blog

For the star, I used a real starfish that I bought at Goodwill earlier this year. I'm so terrified it'll fall that there are 4 pieces of double-sided tape on the back of it. I might also loop a string around it and tie it to the tree so that if it does fall, it'll only fall a few inches. I'm not so worried that it'll break (it's falling onto carpet), but that Sasha will find it before I do. She has a strange fascination with the thing - she must smell something I don't.

starfish tree decoration - Turtles and Tails blog

We have next to no natural light in the basement, so the pictures aren't as clear as I'd like, but isn't a hazy glow from the tree kind of nice anyway?

Christmas branch tree on the wall - Turtles and Tails blog

Christmas branch tree on the wall - Turtles and Tails blog

Christmas branch tree on the wall - Turtles and Tails blog


~~~~~

I'm linking up here this week!


Nov 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends!




And remember everything you're thankful for today
.
.
.
.
.
.
as you're elbowing people out of the way tomorrow.

http://zaazu.com

(Oh, lighten up, you know you're laughing.)




Nov 18, 2012

Smoky Oven-Baked Chicken

Everyone is always looking for a better chicken recipe, right? Well, I think I might have found it. A recipe even better than my last chicken recipe - which was pretty fantastic.

Smoky Oven-Baked Chicken - Turtles and Tails Blog

This one is all in the spice blend. It's a modification of the smoky spice blend recipe in Practical Paleo. I didn't have half of the ingredients so I made some substitutions, and, oh my, are they good!

Here is what you need to make 5 tablespoons of spice blend:

1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon black pepper

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Take your chicken pieces (I used drumsticks) and toss them in melted coconut oil, bacon fat,or whatever oil you choose. I put the chicken in a bowl, poured some oil on them, and then used tongs to flip them around and make sure they were evenly coated.

Mix your spices in a bag - I use old grocery bags, but a ziploc or a paper bag would work just as well. Put your chicken in the bag, hold the top closed, and shake it up baby.

Smoky Oven-Baked Chicken - Turtles and Tails Blog

Once the chicken is evenly coated, lay the pieces out on a cookie sheet or glass dish and bake them for 30-45 minutes, turning once halfway through. You'll have to be the judge on when they're finished.

Smoky Oven-Baked Chicken - Turtles and Tails Blog

Serve!

This is my plate. We had the chicken with a potato/onion/sweet pepper semi-mash, and some raw sugar snap peas.

Smoky Oven-Baked Chicken - Turtles and Tails Blog

I also used this recipe for chicken wings and it's just as good. Nice smoky flavour with a salt & pepper taste. And check out the colour! Toasty brown and crispy!

Smoky Oven-Baked Chicken - Turtles and Tails Blog

This is a recipe you HAVE to try. I'm serious. Don't even hesitate. Do it.

Smoky Oven-Baked Chicken - Turtles and Tails Blog

Smoky Oven-Baked Chicken - Turtles and Tails Blog

~~~~~

I'm linking up here this week!



Nov 13, 2012

Young House Love - In The House!


How exciting was your Monday night? Watched some TV? Did some laundry? My night was pretty flam-blam fabulous - I met John & Sherry Petersik at their Toronto book signing. If you don't know, the creators of Young House Love recently released their first book - Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love, and they were at the West Elm store in Toronto to sign copies and meet their fans.

Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love


It's a great book --- I mean really, 243 tips? That'll keep you busy for a good long while. I hope you'll pick it up, even if you don't get a chance to meet them.

My favourites so far are the twine headboard,

Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love

And the tree branch candleholder

Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love

Here is an awesome shot from the night. John is mugging for my sister while Sherry is telling me to get my butt up there to the table already.

John & Sherry Petersik - Young House Love

And the prerequisite fan shot - though I think I look more like a crazy stalker/photo bomber:

John & Sherry Petersik - Young House Love

This is at around 9:30 pm and you can see in Sherry's eyes that it has been a long, long night. Unfortunately I only took my point & shoot with me so the pictures aren't the highest quality. But it was amazing to meet two of my favourite bloggers and I'm so glad they were able to make it to Toronto.

And thank you to my sister for standing in line with me for 3+ hours. You rock!




Nov 11, 2012

"Birch Bark" Painted Vase

I'm starting to wrap up my fall crafting and lean more towards Christmas. But I thought I'd sneak in one more  fall-type craft that I've been wanting to do for a long time, this "birch-bark" vase. It might not look like birch bark to everyone, but it sure does to me.

"birch bark" vase - elastics & spray paint - Turtles and Tails blog

Luckily, depending on how you fill the vase, it can be used year round. In fact, it gives off a bit more of a winter vibe to me than a fall one. What say you?

I've seen this idea all over the place - check out a couple of versions here and here - and knew I had the perfect vase for it. I bought this 12" vase at one of my company yard sales, for $1 or $2 I think. Don't you love the height and the thick, heavy glass it's made of?


I liked Emily's (Merrypad) way of spray painting with shades of brown first to give a more natural bark look rather than having it be clear in the unpainted spots. I used two colours, Rustoleum's espresso and nutmeg, both in a satin finish. You know, I kind of like how the browns blend and wouldn't mind having a vase just like this.

"birch bark" vase - elastics & spray paint - Turtles and Tails blog

Once it was dry I added rubber bands in a random non-pattern and then started spraying on very light coats of white. True confession time - I was so excited to get to the painting that I accidentally started spraying on the white before I put the elastics on. Thank goodness it was just a little mist in one spot when I realized what I was doing and stopped. Tom says he wished he had the camera ready because the look of horror on my face was priceless.
"birch bark" vase - elastics & spray paint - Turtles and Tails blog

Several coats later I let it dry completely and then snipped off the rubber bands. The edges where the elastics met the glass were a little rough in places so I sanded them with a high-grit sandpaper. There are imperfections where the elastics were, but I think that makes it more natural. Have you ever seen a perfect tree?

"birch bark" vase - elastics & spray paint - Turtles and Tails blog

There isn't a lot of foliage around to decorate with this time of year, so I snipped off some branches from our tree out front. The tree has these crazy wiggly branches and the leaves always look like they're dying for a drink. If you know what kind of tree it is, please let me know. I also added in some orange and red berries from the dollar store.

"birch bark" vase - elastics & spray paint - Turtles and Tails blog

"birch bark" vase - elastics & spray paint - Turtles and Tails blog

This is one of my favourite projects. I think it's the clean lines that get me. And birch trees are my absolute favourite tree in the world. In fact, we're considering pulling out the crazy, drama-queen-looking-for-a-drink-of-water tree out front and replacing it with a white birch next year.

"birch bark" vase - elastics & spray paint - Turtles and Tails blog

And even though there are brown undertones, the light does still pass through the glass and give it a glow in the afternoon.


~~~~~

I'm linking up here this week!


Nov 7, 2012

Practical Paleo


Look what showed up at my door yesterday! 


I shouldn't really be surprised since I ordered it last week and I've been hanging out by the mailbox like a crazy stalker ever since. Have you read Diane Sanfilippo's Practical Paleo?

To be honest, I was a bit hesitant to buy it just because of the price, and I already have two Paleo books, but it was recommended so highly that I went for it. And when it arrived I could see the justification for the price - look at how thick this thing is! That's a lot of eating to look forward to. It's not just a cookbook though, it's a guide to Paleo living with explanations of why it just might be right for you, and 30 day meal plans (with links to the recipes).


I've been following Paleo for about a year now, but I'm by no means an expert. I'll direct you to this link for an excellent explanation of what it is. Basically it is eating only natural, unprocessed foods that have high-nutrient value, aren't irritating to your body, and taste good!

I haven't been as stringent as I probably could sometimes (there was a jujube-hoarding incident that we won't go into), but even so I feel so much better. I kicked my potato chip addiction (still working on the sugar addiction), I don't feel bloated in the afternoon any more, and as an added bonus I've lost 30 pounds.

Okay, it's really hard to talk about Paleo without sounding like you're selling something. Let me just show off some of this book! (Though I'm afraid that my photos of her photos don't do it justice.)

bison burgers with sweet potato "buns"

chocolate truffles (yes, you can have dessert!)

food prep

tailored meal plans

Anyone out there tried Paleo or a similar lifestyle change? What did you think? Did everyone around you think you were crazy? 


(and yes, that's Ana White's The Handbuilt Home underneath. I'm saving it for the weekend!)


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