cranberry & chocolate chip muffins

“use FROZEN, yes frozen whole cranberries”

cranberry muffinsWhat makes my kids go nuts for these are the whole cranberries.  They love the sour combined with the sweet of the cinnamon sugar.  Most of the time I don’t even put chocolate chips in them at all, which I thought I should mention since they are just as delicious without, and healthier too!

cranberry chocolate chip muffin batterI put the cranberries into the batter right from the freezer, which does three things: 1-It keeps the muffins from turning pink and becoming ‘wet’ which can happen when mixing soft fresh fruit into batter. 2-It hardens up the batter a little making it easier to scoop into the molds. 3-The frozen berries are shocked by the hot oven temp which makes (some) of the cranberries explode into the batter while cooking -yummy!

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (you can substitute for white flour)
3/4 cups white granulated sugar
1 tblsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups of frozen whole cranberries
1 cup milk chocolate baking chips (optional)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup milk
1 large egg
1 pinch of cinnamon & cinnamon sugar to sprinkle overtop if desired.

RECIPE: cranberry chocolate chip muffinDirections:

Pre-heat oven to 350c degrees and line your muffin tin with paper cups.  In a large bowl crack in egg, milk, sugar and gently blend together with a spatula, then add butter.  Next add flours, baking powder, baking soda, pinch of cinnamon and carefully mix together (note: the trick to a good muffin is to NOT over mix).  Finally add the cranberries and chocolate chips if using, and mix just until all ingredients are well blended.

cranberry muffin recipeFill your muffin cup with batter.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the tops if desired and bake for 20 minutes (or until done).  Makes one dozen muffins.

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mad for plaid

DIY: how to shorten a pleated vintage plaid tartan skirt

School uniforms, holiday tablecloths, the wool blanket that has been in the family for a couple of generations:  No one can argue the timeless appeal that plaid/tartan has.  Wholesome enough for June Cleaver but sultry enough for Marilyn Monroe, traditional and ‘homey’ as wallpaper in Madmen, and surprisingly sophisticated on an IPhone4 hard case.

plaid tartan collage

Which is why when I accidentally stumbled on this vintage Highland Queen skirt (at Nova in Hudson), it was love at first site.  The quality, craftsmanship of this skirt is unbelievable and even though the skirt was too long (dowdy) and no where near my size (sz 2), it was in perfect, like new condition, reversible, and at $20 I had to have it.

Highland Queen wool tartan plaid skirt

I can sew but I’m no seamstress extraordinaire! (more like self taught hacker) but since I knew I would never wear anything tucked into it, I felt confident that I could get away with an elastic waist rather than a proper zipper.  Problem is, an A-line skirt with pleats is tricky: you can’t simply fold the fabric over and jam an elastic in there like you might with any other plain skirt.  If the fabric bunches (think; ‘hair scrunchy’) the skirt won’t look right.

scrunchiLucky for me the pleats to the skirt didn’t start at the waist.  The waist and stomach part of the skirt was flat which would allow for cutting and shortening it without destroying the skirts construction.

plaidskirtscollage

reversible red plaid / tartan skirt

To keep the pleats in-tact with no scrunching I first tried on the skirt and hiked it up to where I felt it fit me perfectly around the waist and marked the spot with a pin (you could also use chalk).  Lucky for me this was right above where the pleats began (remember to never cut into the pleats, otherwise the skirt is dead!) and the skirt length fell right below the knee (I would have preferred an inch or two higher but again, this would mean cutting into where the pleats start).

DSC03239

I cut the fabric with the same slight curve as the original waist, rather than straight across, in order to maintain the skirts construction and have the skirt and pleats ‘fall’ nicely.  Next I took my elastic (purchase a wide elastic, since the wool is heavy you will need a fat elastic to keep it up around your body!) and sewed it in place.

DIY tartan plaid skirt

Nothing special or fancy: just sew the fabric straight on to the elastic without folding over the fabric, no pulling or stretching, only straight sewing.  Done!  Sure, it looked ugly and ‘unfinished’.  But again, I knew I would always wear something over the waist band.  Still, my mother in law (the avid sewer) said I could have used the leftover cut fabric to cover the elastic and finish it off nicely. Duh, of course -why didn’t I think of that?  Unfortunately I had already thrown it out, and before I could come up with a different idea (or take pics of my half finished sewing job) she whisked the skirt away and gave it back to me a few days later all nicely finished off with black fabric to cover up the elastic (thanks mil!).

finished plaid tartand skirt

Finished plaid/tartan skirt

red plaid skirt close up

Julie Cadieux: plaid tartan red skirt

Rocking the skirt: my daughter (who took these photos of me -thank you Clo!), says I look like a mix between a young Mrs. Claus and one of those mom’s in Christmas movies!! LOL! I’m OK with that, because the plan was to wear this outfit on Christmas day!! Happy Holidays! -Julie

Check out my latest plaid purchase: a new house key!plaid/tartan key- For more on the textured surface this key is laying on, click HERE!

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wing back chair with nailhead trim

Winter: Loving the plaid in the living room

A modern and budget friendly master bath

A modern and budget friendly master bath

Like most people, when designing the master bath, my wants did not match my budget! Still, there were some key elements I knew I had to have. A walk-in glassless shower (think: easy-to-clean), double vanities, decent storage and a large window. Bathroom fans might work well, but nothing beats an open window to properly ventilate and get rid of humidity. Natural light is also perfect for applying makeup!

Master bathrooms are definitely more stressful to decorate then their counterpart, the master bedroom. Picking out the wrong duvet cover or lamp is not the end of the world but choosing the wrong tiles, fixtures and cabinetry can be a pricey and permanent mistake.

Here are three basic factors to consider when planning your bathroom design:

• Paint it. When painting small rooms like bathrooms or walk-in closets, I generally like to paint the ceiling the same colour. It makes the room feel less chopped up, tricks the eye into thinking the ceiling is a little higher and makes the overall space feel more open.

• Don’t decorate. Keep the palette gender-neutral since this space is likely to be shared and of course always consider resale. Baby blue cabinets may go with your beach theme but one day it could drive buyers away. Adding a blue soap dispenser and other accessories however can be a great way to inject your favourite colour into the room.

I’ve always thought bathrooms in general should be clean-looking and not “decorated”. Instead, why not use everyday essentials displayed in an interesting way? This is how boutique hotels and spas make their spaces feel clean and high end. Items like rolled towels, jars of bath salts, lush tropical plants or even a pretty decanter for mouthwash are simple, low cost examples anyone can replicate at home.

• Put it away. Toothbrushes, wrinkle creams, floss, razors and flat irons – no one needs to see all of that, not even you! Take a couple of hours on a rainy weekend and clean out under your sink. Next, buy a few inexpensive, easy to wash plastic bins and baskets. Make yourself a system with a bin for hair stuff, another for mani/pedi products and so on. When there is a place for everything, it takes 20 seconds to plop your deodorant, mascara and hair mousse away, not to mention easier to find and take out every morning!

Check out my blog at www.JulieLovesHome.wordpress.com
Facebook: JulieLovesHome

Wednesday November 28, 2012 – Julie Cadieux

*For more photos of the master bathroom click here!

Master Bath

Your home tells a story of who you are

Photo via Pantone.com

By Julie Cadieux – The Hudson St-Lazare Gazette.   Fall is the time of year where, once we are done closing the pool, storing the outdoor furniture and raking all those leaves, we turn our attention back to ­indoor projects like finally cleaning out those cluttered closets and replacing the leaky faucet. For many, it also means spending on new home decor items like a new lamp, installing shelves or painting the living room a brand new colour. This interest to perfect our homes has been fed by the hundreds of home improvement television shows, magazines, books, websites and of course the new home ­improvement stores that are multiplying in order to feed our habit. I personally love it, and I know I’m not the only one who has wasted hours drooling and ­’pinning’ over at Pinterest.com.

The $65.2 billion gifts and home decorative accents market has increased 72% since 2002 and is, according to a study done by Harvard, expected to grow 3.5% per year.

A recent survey done by Houzz.com found that 86% of homeowners who were planning to build, remodel or ­decorate in the next two years, stated “improving the look and feel of the space” as the reason. “We expected that in this economy Americans’ highest priority would be increasing home value, but instead we found people are focused on pleasing themselves.” says Liza ­Hausman, vice president of marketing for Houzz.

Figures released this month from Statistics Canada showed that Canadians household debt ratio is currently 163% (which means Canadian owe $1.63 for every $1 of disposable income). While Americans have actually managed to ­reduced their debt from the 165% since before the 2008 crash to just around 140%. It might look good on paper but compared to the average household debt from over 50 years ago of about 113%, it’s still huge.

Bogged down with so much debt why do we keep spending on unnecessary items like throw pillows and area rugs? I think way before credit cards and Home Depot were invented, we have always had a desire to nest. To put a stamp on our homes and create a personal place by using colour, mementos and objects that not only make our spaces an attractive refuge for ourselves and those who live with us, but also to show others a glimpse into who we are.

A new lounge chair by the fireplace with a coordinating blanket might not fall into the important-necessity category, but I do know feeling good about where we live is. A home is a backdrop for our lives and tells a story of who we are, where we have travelled, our hobbies, passions and interests. Which is why we want to feel pride when we walk through the door, comfortable when we gather our loved ones around the dinning room table and happy to invite a friend over for ­coffee.

I get it; if I’m not painting, improving or decorating my own house, it’s only because I’ve been hired to help someone with theirs! However I do feel that there is definitely a huge disconnect if we are willing to put our finances at risk because of it. Wanting to make a house a home for our family versus wanting to have the best and most beautiful things to fill it up with at risk to our family’s financial ­future is not the same thing. What story does your home say about you?

Email me: JulieLovesJome@gmail.com
Find me on WordPress, Twitter, ­­­Facebook and yes, even Pinterest: JulieLovesHome

6piccollageJulieLovesHomeHeader

• • •

Feedback on last week’s column All kinds of intelligence:

“I so agree with you. That’s why we are so thankful that our son got into Vanguard. Twelve students per class. Classes are made up of close in age children that have the same types of learning disabilities and about the same level of reading ability. Then let’s say a kid is better than the average in math, he joins a stronger math group for his math classes and so on for different subjects. Plus the teachers are almost all orthopédagogues specialized in helping children with learning disabilities. I too believe our school system is no longer adequate for many children and that you can not blame the teachers, most of the time they do the best they can with what they have. Thanks for the interesting column.” — Cynthia

“You have recognized some really important concepts on multiple intelligence! Keeping up with tech will be just half the battle. Thanks for tackling this issue.” — Guidance Counsellor

“My wife and I agree and feel the exact same way. Thanks” — Peter from St-Lazare

The Hudson St-Lazare Gazette-October 31st 2012-Julie Cadieux

Living room shelves -restyled!

Before: living room shelves 2010 (check out more before pics here).

Recently I started to feel that my living room shelves needed a new look  -with more colour.  So for the past week I have been busy making some new art pieces (more on that here and here) for that top shelf.  Once I was done I played around with how to display it all, adding a sculptural container and a small green painting I made several years ago to the vignette!  Next I stacked all of our books, by colour, on the middle shelf and added a tiny house plant and a little framed reproduction by artist Robert Genn (which I just scored for $5 at Nova).  The bottom shelf I chose to leave a little more airy but I’m still not sure if I am completely happy with it yet.  It may still get more tweaking -but I figure with the holidays around the corner that bottom shelf might end up being the perfect spot to add some Christmas decor!

After: living room shelves / Fall 2012

Styling or decorating shelves can be so difficult, but here are a couple of tips which always help me get started:

Tip #1: Shop your house!

Before buying anything new, rummage through cupboards and shop other rooms of your home.  Swap our art, accessories, frames and books.

TIP #2: Layer, layer, layer!

Having everything spaced evenly and facing out might be the way to start, but as you continue tweaking, try adding smaller or larger accessories (such as decorative objects, picture frames, vases, candles, plants) in front of others to add visual interest, texture and depth!

Leaning art, rather than hanging it lends a more relaxed feeling to a room.

Don’t let those shelves intimidate you any longer!  Take your time and experiment, play and keep re-arranging – Good Luck!

All Kinds Of Intelligence

Do you ever wonder if our children’s education even measures up anymore? I mean sure the internet was already invented when my teenage son was born but companies and people were just starting to try and figure out how (and why) to use it back then (I should know, I used to teach Introduction To The Internet and Computer 101 classes!).

The internet has changed everything. We can communicate, locate, debate, watch, cook, snoop and shop so much quicker. Am I the only one who wonders what this means to the future workplace?  Oh sure, we can tell ourselves that some school boards, like Lester B. Pearson have introduced a new curriculum that includes MAC laptops, but let’s be clear: they are reserved for the select few that make it into their special Matrix program. You could also argue that this sort of education can wait for University, but I’m not just talking about computers and the internet. I mean you don’t need to be wealthy nowadays for your child to have access to an internet active device. I’m not very confident about how our education system is keeping up with how fast the world, business and and the economy is changing. Laptops and the web aside, maybe the way our kids our being taught needs to be completely overhauled.

3 years ago my friend enlisted her son in Brookside Montessori (for children potty trained to Kindergarten age). I remember her mentioning that aside from maintaining a 1 to 10 classroom ratio, the rooms were not busy or colourful (apparently simple, plain rooms are less distracting and more conducive for learning) and that they attempted to teach to different learning styles. I can recall her blowing my mind when she said “isn’t it obvious that all children should be taught for how their brains work?”. My response was probably something like “Uh, yeah sure”. But thinking about how our public school curriculum works for maybe half of the students does concern me. In 2007 statistics Canada claimed 1 in 10 had a learning disability but what does that really mean? How many kids struggle in certain areas and never fall into the learning disability category at all?

I myself just found out that my severe math problems in high school, today would probably (hopefully!) be diagnosed as ‘Dyscalculia’. I was schooled in an era where I believed I was stupid. Has anything really changed?

A friend of mine shared that when she told her sister that her son had a been diagnosed with a minor case of Dyslexia she responded with: “oh-no! And I thought he was so smart??!”. FYI: a learning disability has absolutely zero correlation with Intelligence Quotient. In fact, a person can have an I.Q. off the charts but maybe their brain can’t seem to connect the difference between a ‘b’ and a ‘d’. How often have you thought “my child is a visual learner”, “my child can only grasp sciences”, “my child seems so smart but can’t follow simple class instructions”?

In the news, there’s been talk about how we (students/parents) should be able to grade our teachers and how difficult it is for school boards to reprimand a “bad” teacher who already has tenure. But is it really a teacher’s fault when she/he is handed a class of 20 to 30 completely different students and is expected to teach each one of them to their ability? I don’t know what the answer is, but maybe not lumping kids by age and by learning style instead, is a start. But the rest of us would need to adapt also and wrap our brains around the idea that just because your 7 year old is in the same class as 5 and 9 year old doesn’t make him/her less or more than, in any way.

A few days ago I was reading a Fast Company article by Robert Safian (November 2012) who originally coined the term ‘Generation Flux’. He discussed how new companies and industries succeed and fail faster than ever before. His article described what companies like Nike, Cisco, Foursquare and Intuit had in common and showcased how traditional business priorities are no longer working: “standby’s like marketplace and competitive advantage are being redefined and being rendered almost meaningless …business life today can shift radically every three moths or so”.

Safian goes on to give examples of how a decade ago a marketing company might outfit it’s department with an obvious marketing background, but today, that same department might also be staffed in science, technology, music, defence and so on. Requiring that the department be able to adapt immediately to the demands of the industry, consumer and business.

This quote by John Landgraf, president and GM of FX Networks says it all: (quoted in Fast Company November 2012) “…you need all kinds of intelligence in all parts of business… you have to value all styles, because you will never know which type will solve a problem…”.

What do you think? I love feedback!

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Email: JulieLovesHome@gmail.com

The Hudson St-Lazare Gazette – October 24/2012 – Julie Cadieux

marshmallow chocolate cake mix cookies

Yesterday afternoon the kids really wanted to bake, but I wasn’t really in the mood for time consuming all out baking, which as any mom knows includes assisting, teaching, supervising and lots of clean up!  So here is what we came up with:  These cookies were quick, easy and fun to make (kids 8 years old and over can pretty much make them with very little assistance).  Were they good? – oh yeah!  The first batch didn’t even make it to the cooling rack!

HOW TO:
1 pkg/box of chocolate cake mix
1 egg
1/4 cup of milk (+ maybe a couple of tblsp depending on mix)
1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
24 to 28 small/medium cinnamon marshmallows
Sprinkle of cinnamon sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a bowl mix together the cake mix, egg, butter, milk and chocolate chips.  The consistency needs to be much thicker than when you make cake.  With clean hands scoop approximately 1 tablespoon of batter, pry apart and sandwich the *marshmallow in between, then make it disappear by forming the dough into a ball.  Pat it down gently on the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Bake for 9 minutes. Makes 24 to 28 cookies.

*We used the small/medium sized marshmallow : if using mini marshmallows, use 2 per cookie not 1.  If using large marshmallows simply tear them in half.  Although we used cinnamon marshmallows, which are not exactly sold everywhere,  I’m sure other flavors like vanilla or cocoa would be just as tasty.