Moving On and Moving Back

As I near the end of my degree, I’ve had to think a lot about what I want for my future. I’ll soon be beginning my ‘adult’ life, and I wanted to start making changes to ensure that I am living the happiest life that I can be. When I sat down to think about the greatest sources of unhappiness in my life, where I am living was the first thing that came to mind.

I was born and raised on the family farm. The landscape is one that my family has looked upon for generations. I moved into the big city – at least it felt big to me – to attend university. I’ve been here for the past four years now, and I still haven’t found a sense of home. Edmonton is a great city, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t where my heart is.

I knew that I wanted nothing more than to be back on the farm. The peace and serenity is something that my country soul needs. My parents were thrilled to know I wanted to come back. Not only would I be close to them again, but all of my family as well. I can throw a stone from our farm and hit a cousin or an aunt or uncle in nearly any direction.

The one thing I wasn’t thrilled about was moving back in with my parents. I love them, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to move THAT far back. We came up with an alternative solution – one that would give me my own space but also allow me to be near to all my family. It was going to take a lot of work, but it was doable.

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This is where I lived until I was six. It’s across the property from my grandparent’s house, which is where my parents live now. When I first tell people that I’m fixing up an old trailer, I often get a puzzled look. It may not look like much, but to me the land that it sits on is a slice of heaven. Yes it’s a little – okay maybe a lot – run down and yes it isn’t new or fancy, but it’s mine and I love it.

Renovations have been coming along all winter now. There was a lot of structural things that had to be done. We put on a new roof, beefed up the insulation, and replaced sections of the floor. There’s a brand new furnace in there – now that the heat can’t escape – and that rotting deck is gone. With these major things finished, it’s now come the time for us to really get to work on the interior.

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As you can see, there’s a lot to be done before I can make a lasagna. I took these photos at the beginning of this past weekend, and we spent the long weekend listening to oldies and working away.

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There really is so much potential for this place. I can already picture my life here, looking out that big window at the barn and the fields. Nothing makes me happier.

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Also, look at the size of that bathtub! I see many bubble baths with candles, wine, and a book in my future.

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Not to mention the counter space in this ensuite bathroom. That’s right, I said ensuite.

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Possibly the thing I am most excited for – the closet. It’s huge. It extends far past that opening and there are those neat little built in drawers and the cabinet as well. Every girl’s dream!

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We did a lot this weekend, and it already looks drastically different than these photos – but I’m saving that for the next update! For now, I’ll leave you wondering what paint colours I’m going with.

The Best Snickerdoodles

I am such a stress-baker. Something about following a recipe – or eyeballing a recipe, as I usually do – is so calming for me. I’m a stress-eater too, so it works out.

It’s the end of the semester. I have a dozen projects that I should be working on and finals that I should start studying for. I hit that point that so many of us do where I have so much to do that I decide to do none of it. Admit it, you’ve been there too.

I got a serious craving for snickerdoodles. I hadn’t had one since I was a kid, and Curtis hasn’t ever had them. There was only one way to satisfy that craving. Bake time!

I called my Grandma for the recipe and my childhood was shattered when she told me that she used to buy them from a lady she knew that sold her cookies. I was excited to try out a family recipe that I remembered from Grandma’s house as a kid – and it turns out that these magical cookies weren’t even my Grandma’s.

I turned to Pinterest and hunted through dozens of recipes. As I mentioned before, I don’t really follow recipes as I see them. I instead like to check out a bunch of recipes and blend them together to create my own hybrid that I think will work.

I did a pretty good job on these. They turned out soft and chewy and everything that a snickerdoodle should be. Here is my hybrid recipe. You can follow it, or make it into your own!

The Best Snickerdoodles

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of golden shortening
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp of vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar
  • 2 3/4 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tsp of cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp of sugar
  1. Cream butter, shortening, and sugar in a bowl
  2. Add eggs and vanilla and cream together
  3. Mix in cream of tartar, flour, baking soda, baking power, and salt
  4. Refrigerate dough for 45 minutes
  5. Roll dough into small balls, and roll in mixture of cinnamon and sugar
  6. Bake at 375 for 6-8 minutes

How easy is that! And they are absolutely mouth-watering. I highly recommend them :)

 

DIY – Orange Coconut Body Butter

Dry skin is such a common problem – especially during Canadian winters. I have tried what feels like all the products under the sun to soothe my dry hands. Curtis’ mom is the same. Her hands are not only dry, but crack. This can be just the worst.

His mom has cracking hands every winter, and she has tried a number of products as well. Nothing really works for her. I stumbled across a homemade body butter recipe and figured that it was worth a try! The main ingredient is coconut oil, and I’ve been reading so much hype on its benefits lately that I was quite intrigued to see the results. I tweaked it a bit from the original post, but it was still so easy!

Orange Coconut Body Butter

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil – I had to hunt for this a little bit. I found it in the natural foods aisle at Superstore. You can use the plain coconut oil, but I chose Orange Almond to enhance the scent a bit.
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • Zest from one orange

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I’m not even going to break this up into steps, because there really isn’t any. Combine the ingredients, and mix. I mixed by hand, but I think you can mix with an actual mixer as well for more of a whipped texture. I don’t have one, so I had to rely on my muscles ;)

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Even mixing by hand, it became a very smooth texture. I placed it into a nice little container that I also found at Superstore.

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I only used about half of the small jar of coconut oil, and probably have enough for another batch. Considering I already had honey – as most of us probably do – it only cost me about $7 to make! Not too bad considering how much we so often spend on skin care products.

I tested out a little myself, and you really do only need a little bit. It’s a bit greasy at first, but it’s oil. I expected that. It took about five minutes to really soak into my skin and I have to say that my hands feel awesome! And it truly smells divine.

 

DIY: Spice Up Old Wooden Furniture

I did these DIY projects a few years ago, but I still love them. As with any DIY, I found the inspiration on Pinterest. You can see the original post here.

tableI loved the idea that I got to stencil the pattern, because I am useless in the art department. I was also about to move into a new apartment when I found this and figured it was as good a time as any to fix up those old kitchen and coffee tables that I had.

What you’ll need:

 A piece of wooden furniture: You’ll be sanding the furniture down, so it doesn’t really matter how dark the existing stain is. The coffee table I did was dark, and the kitchen table was light, and both turned out great!

Plastic stencils in any pattern: It’s really hard to find big stencils of patterns, like the one pictured. I got a pack of smaller stencils from Michaels, like these.

Sanding paper

Wood stain, any colour you wish

White paint

Small paintbrush

Refillable paint dobber

Steps

1. First, you need to sand the entire surface that you intend to paint your pattern on. Be sure to remove any existing topcoats.

2. Stencil on your pattern with white paint. I personally had a lot of trouble finding a tool for this that wouldn’t bleed underneath the plastic stencil. After a few trial and errors, I found that a “foam pouncer” worked best. It applied just the right amount of paint! Time consuming – the whole project was though, to be honest – but the best results. I used a small paintbrush to fill in any little holes and what not. Let the pattern thoroughly dry.

3. Lightly – emphasis on the lightly – sand the entire surface again. This will create a smooth surface to stain over.

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4. Apply the wood stain to the entire surface. I chose a dark colour. The white paint shows right through! Be sure to allow ample drying time, and apply as many coats as desired until you achieve the look that you are satisfied with.

5. Apply a top coat.

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The kitchen table is a bit blurry, and I did one more coat of stain after this picture. Just to get the right look. The coffee table pictured is the finished product. I painted the legs of each table a bright colour as well, just to add a little pop. The kitchen table took probably over 10 hours – stencilling all that pattern was a serious job – but it was really relaxing at the same time. And now I have these really lovely, personalized pieces in my home!