Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mason Jar Series: Homemade Salsa + Giveaway!

Hey everyone! Welcome to...

 
 It was my friend Alistair that got me on this canning kick. One night after a good workout with my girlfriend Katey, we went back to her house to sit on the porch and enjoy a glass of red. Katey's hubby, Alistair cracks open a jar of his freshly canned pickles and I was in heaven. They were fresh, crispy and delicious. Soo...I decided to give this canning thing a try. I love the versatility of mason jars and thought I would start with it's initial purpose...to preserve delicious foods.

Are you a salsa lover? We eat ALOT of it. One of our go-to snacks are tortilla chips and salsa. However, I found that once I picked up the fancy fresh salsa in the deli, I just couldn't go back to the mass produced salsa down the middle of the grocery isles. I thought I would give my own a try. Yup, I'm hooked. Mr. Fix-It is in salsa heaven and we're never going back to the middle-of-the-isle-ho-hum salsa.

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Homemade Salsa Recipe
 
I took this recipe from the Bernardin site and modified it a bit. Here's what I did...

 8 cups chopped tomatoes, 
 2 cups chopped onions
 9 jalapeño peppers (I added a mix of these babies)
 3 cloves garlic, minced
 1 can tomato paste
 3/4 cup white vinegar
 3/4 cup chopped cilantro

  • Place 5 clean 500 ml mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water and heat to a simmer (180°F/82°C). Set screw bands aside; sealing discs in hot water. Keep jars and sealing discs hot until ready to use.
  • Blanch, peel and coarsely chop tomatoes. Measure 8 cups and finely chop jalapeños. You can seed the tomatoes if you want, as well as, the jalepenos but we like our salsa spicy :)
  • Combine tomatoes, onions, jalapeño pepper, garlic, tomato paste, vinegar and cilantro in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil; boil gently, stirring occasionally, until salsa reaches desired consistency, about 30 minutes.
  • Ladle salsa into a hot jar to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of top rim (headspace). Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if required, by adding more salsa. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Centre hot sealing disc on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner. You don't need an actual canner, I used a very large pot. Repeat for remaining salsa.
  • When canner is filled, ensure that all jars are covered by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time.
  • When processing time is complete, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands.
  • After cooling check jar seals. Sealed discs curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.
It's really yummy, fresh and healthy. A couple things to note. Canning takes awhile. Be prepared to be one with your kitchen for a solid afternoon. Also, you might want to check out canning safety, you don't want to make anyone sick.

Stay tuned for next week's Mason Jar Series recipe :)

Who wants to win a yummy salsa mix AND a set of 500 ml mason jars? I know YOU DO!! Enter here!
Mason Jar Series - WIN A SET of 500 ml Mason Jars & Salsa Mixes!

Keep it Beautiful. 





**My friends, everything in this post is my own. I have not been financially compensated for this post. Bernardin graciously supplied the mason jars...wasn't that so nice of them? Thank you. It was my idea to start canning and everything I've said are my own words. I wanted to encourage you to make your own salsa and experience the deliciousness :) ** 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween Mantle


Hi everyone!
My camera is back from getting a little TLC and has given up the goods. Honestly, I love working with electronics/gadgets but the moment they stop working, I’m up the creek without a paddle.
Since I was a little girl, Halloween has always been one of my favourite events of the year. From planning our costumes, decorating the house, making spooky cookies and trick-or-treating, I have always loved it. My kiddies are very excited for the big night…what kid doesn’t love to go door-to-door asking for candy and then stay up late, eating everything we ask them not to eat?!

This is a photo of our minis last weekend at a Halloween party. Ninja Turtles unite!
BTW, if you need to make a tutu and don’t want to have to sew it, I used this tutorial online that involved zero sewing and cost only $9 to make! Easy peasy! God bless talented crafters that produce easy tutorial versions of the real deal for wannabe crafters like myself!

The kids helped me decorate our mantle. Our big guy wanted something scary and our middle guy was hesitant. So…this is what we came up with.

 



We filled a glass vase with rice and stuck decorative branches (I use these all the time in urns) in the rice to hold them in place. We picked up a handful of bats at the dollar store and gave them a place to hang.
 
Last year I used lots of crows and birds. Up went a couple of those guys and some smiley pumpkin lanterns for the not-so-scary feel.



Halloween is one of those holidays where your mantle décor can be limitless. You can go scary, traditional (i.e. line up a bunch of pumpkins straight across), gory (hanging hands, legs and spider webs etc), or silly.
If you are looking for some last minute Halloween décor, I've created a Halloween Pinterest board for some inspiration.
Next stop…Christmas! Dare I say it?! Wait for it…November 1st, Christmas will have fully exploded in the stores. Prepare yourself.

The Mason Jar Series will officially begin tomorrow J
 
Keep it Beautiful.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Our Home Paint Colours

Hey everyone!

So, remember I promised you that the Mason Jar Series would begin today?


Well, I was all ready to write my first entry and for some reason, I can’t get my photos off my camera. It’s very strange. I spent a couple hours last night trying all different ways to download them with no luck. I’ve never had this problem before…I can see the photos on the camera screen but for some reason they aren’t downloading onto my computer! Ugh. Any suggestions my friends? I think I may need to take my camera into the camera doctor to get those photos out and share a yum recipe with you. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’ve had lots of questions from you asking what the paint colours are in our home? Today, let’s talk main floor. All the colours are Benjamin Moore and Farrow & Ball. Here ya go J


(left to right)
  1. Benjamin Moore - Stonington Grey (Living Room, Dining Room, Hallway)
  2. Benjamin Moore - Coventry Grey (the grey in our entry way stripes)
  3. Benjamin Moore - Cloud White (all the trim, doors and anything painted white in our house is this colour)
  4. Benjamin Moore - Sea Haze (this is the back accent of the built-ins in the breakfast room)
  5. Benjamin Moore - Kendall Charcoal (Playroom)
  6. Farrow & Ball - Pale Powder (Kitchen & Breakfast Room)
  7. Farrow & Ball - Skylight (stairway)
It’s hard to see the true colours of paint online, however here are a few photos to give you an idea of some of the paint on the walls.

Full story here

Full story of the playroom here

Picking paint is tough. Here are a few tips:

  • Look for inspiration! Pick out a colour from your favourite rug, fabric or your favourite painting.  Of course, definitely check out Pinterest. It’s an abyss of inspiration.
  • Don’t be afraid! If you want to go bold then do it. Try an accent wall or paint a table in the room a fabulous bright colour.
  • Please, please, please avoid beige. Beige is like mom jeans….safe, boring and really don’t flatter your walls. I recognize that beige has many shades but think outside the box, there are other colours that will give your walls impact but create neutrality. Don’t just default to beige because you aren't sure what to pick.

  • Pick up magazines. Head to the store and pick up a few magazines. Tear out pages and looks that you like. This is a great starting point.

  • Hire a decorator. Picking colours is hard and you want to do it right the first time. For what you may spend on painting and repainting, you can hire an expert to help guide you in the right direction.

I hope you have a wonderful day. We can chat paint colours on our second and third floors next and I promise to start the Mason Jar Series as soon as my camera gives up the goods! Get well camera.

Keep it Beautiful.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wednesday Yummies: Fruit & Veggie Wash

Hi guys,

So, have you seen that "fruit and veggie wash" in the grocery store? It's usually in the produce section, hanging around in a random basket. I've always wondered what was in it and wondered why would people buy something that likely had chemicals in it (although don't quote me on that because I've never read the ingredients, but still...can't there be an easier/free option) to wash my fruits and veggies in?

So last Saturday, I told you we were going to go apple picking on the weekend? Well, we did, on Sunday. Of course, the kids loved it and picked every apple they could get their hands on. Total cuteness. Anyone need apples? Please, come over and have some! Notice the grass? Our 3 year old decided that the ones on the ground had to come home too.


So as my kiddies have been eating them, I was washing them as we went, until I thought of that random "fruit and veg wash" in the grocery store. I scoured Google and found out how to make your own. ENTER IN....a FOOD DIY! I swear, it's easy peasy!

Here's what you do:
 
- Fill your sink 1/3 to half way with luke warm water.
- Add 1 cup of white vinegar
- Mix it up
- Let your fruit & veggies get happy (for about 10-15 minutes)
- Drain and give the fruit and veggies a good rinse. I promise your fruit won't smell like vinegar.
- Drain the sink and let your fruit dry (I let it hang out on a clean dish cloth on the counter for awhile)

That's it. Easy eh?

Please come over for an apple! Some of these will definitely be in our Thanksgiving apple pie. Yes!

Keep it Beautiful.





Saturday, October 4, 2014

Apples, DIY & Bob Villa!

Hi everyone!

It's been a busy, busy week in the office and this weekend we're hanging with the kids with zero plans. Okay, well except that we're thinking of going apple picking on Sunday. The last time I was apple picking, our big guy looked like this...
That was 6 years ago, so it's most definitely time to head back with our now 3 minis!

Hey, remember Bob Vila? I grew up watching Bob on Saturday afternoons with my Dad. My Dad was the first Mr. Fix-It in my life and my love for home projects came from Dad. Dad still continues to find regular projects at the cottage! Anyway, Keep It Beautiful Designs' bookshelves are being featured on Bob Vila's website. Cool eh Dad?

So one of my besties, Julie just finished a fresh.fabulous.sophisticated project. She found this cabinet at her local antique store...

Headed into the garage for a little hole filling and sanding...

Voila!! A new home for Julie's tv and storage! Didn't she do such a great job? I'm so proud of her. How great is that gallery wall? Can you see that trunk peaking out from the bottom shelf? Love it!This is a perfect example of using pieces that you already have and reviving treasures.

If you're a reader and ever thought of buying a tablet for books, I had the chance to review the new Kindle Fire HD over on the Ottawa Mommy Club. Head on over if you want some more 411 on this cool tablet and you can enter for a chance to win one!

Happy weekend.

Keep it Beautiful.



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Prince Edward County is Good for the Soul! A Girls' Getaway!

Hi friends!

Hope you had a great weekend! Last weekend's weather was so gorgeous in Ottawa that it's hard to believe it's October 1st today! I feel like it's practically Thanksgiving tomorrow and Christmas...dare I say, is around the corner! Gulp.

Although the temperature felt like summer, I spent last weekend touring around Prince Edward County's gorgeous fall leaves. Two of my girlfriends and I set out for a care-free, no plans, no kids weekend. All we knew is that we wanted to experience the food, the wine and the hospitality that Prince Edward County prides itself on.

If you're looking for a great place to getaway for the weekend, you should head into the rolling roads and wineries. We shopped in the cutest shops in Bloomfields....
 
 I loved these antique clocks and how cool are those giant numbers painted on those doors?

We visited about ten wineries. Doesn't that sound so great? They're all very different and each one with it's own charm. You can sample all their wines and learn about the winemaking process. We tried them all, I mean our fair share ;) and had delicious food throughout the weekend.

 If you're into antiques, this is another great reason to visit this area.
 

It really was a magical weekend for us. If you love food, wine, cute shops, winding roads of beauty and no schedule then you need to head to Prince Edward County...fresh.fabulous.sophisticated.

It's amazing what this little fruit can do for three friends :)


Keep it Beautiful.





**Prince Edward County has no connection to this post. All the words are mine, I just wanted to share the love with you for such a gorgeous and fun place**



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Mantle for Fall

Hi everyone!

How has it been two weeks since my last post? The last two weeks has been seriously nuts! My office job has me working harder and longer hours than ever before. I'm really loving my job right now but with all the busyness at the office and working at night, it's been hard to talk to all of you. I also attended an incredible conference a couple of weekends ago, called BlogPodium. I had such a great time! If you can believe it, it was the 3rd time in 6 years that I was away without any of my kids! Yikes. I've gone away many times since they've been born but I've always had at least one babe on my hip. This conference weekend...I.was.free! Yup, it felt so great! I learned tons, met great people, connected with fellow bloggers, saw some of my family, went to see the musical Wicked with my mum & Aunt Mary and RELAXED. I so needed it.

Please bear with me while my day job has me working ALOT! I have lots of ideas I want to share with you, it just might take a little while to get them all to you. With the arrival of Fall on Sunday, I did say good-bye to summer and hello to crisp mornings, cozy sweaters and a new mantle for Fall.

Have you decorated for Fall yet? I went hunting around my house and came up with this simple mantle.

I used these faux pumpkins on my Halloween mantle last year but paired with this square Fall wreath (it was my Nana's), they don't look so Halloweenie!

This is one of my new brown insulators that I got at an amazing Antique Shop. I will definitely tell you all about it soon. It was like nothing I had seen before. Have you seen the show Hoarders? Well, this place could have it's own show! But, there were lots of great gems waiting to be scooped up.

VOILA!



 
So that's my simple, clean and fresh Fall mantle. As much as I love summer, there is something about creating cozy Fall spaces with pops of colour as the weather cools. Keep it easy. Fresh.Fabulous.Sophisticated.

Keep it Beautiful.

 
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