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The Persnickety Mama blogging about trying to run a business, a house, raise a kid and still have a life. DIY | Crafting | Gluten Free Food | Family | Life

Upcoming Projects

Gifts for the girls. This year, I am working to knit as many gifts as I can for my friends and family :)

I have found a very simple project that I can easily work on while I am watching TV, etc... 

Churchmore Yarns - Frothy Wrap

Churchmore Yarns - Frothy Wrap

Going to dig through my yarn stash and see how much of it I can use up before the holidays this year. Picked this pretty stash up today! 

Off to finish another project, so I can get started on these!


Pink yarn - Madelinetosh Lace | Red yarn - Madelinetosh Lace | Blue / Green yarn - Malabrigo Lace

Pink yarn - Madelinetosh Lace | Red yarn - Madelinetosh Lace | Blue / Green yarn - Malabrigo Lace

My continued obsession with French Macarons

I posted a little while ago about the French Macaron 101 mini-course on A Beautiful Mess. I had some great success with the difficult little cookies, but wanted to try and refine my recipe a little more as I was getting cracked shells occasionally and I wanted them PERFECT.

Through my googling, I found that a lot of people have a lot of trouble with the sugary sweets. Too much moisture, not enough heat, too much heat, not enough patience...

With the great experience with the previous macaron course, I tried another from The Macaron Master. WOW - talk about detailed! Every tiny little thing I needed to consider is there. Also a LOT of great recipe tweaks to make every possible flavour of beautiful french macarons.

Brown Macarons - espresso flavoured shells with dulce de leche filling Green Macarons - plain shells with lime curd filling Pink Macarons - cinnamon shells with mango filling

Brown Macarons - espresso flavoured shells with dulce de leche filling
Green Macarons - plain shells with lime curd filling
Pink Macarons - cinnamon shells with mango filling

The BF has suggested that since I LOVE spending time baking, that I should take some of my treats to the locals farmers market in the coming weeks. Being a perfectionist, I have been bribing my girlfriends with macarons to critique my combinations and help me find the best ones to test out at the market. Trust your girls to be brutally honest!

So, stay tuned - I might hang up my marketing hat and get on the macaron train :) Kidding, but it would be fabulous right?

My portable art kit

Part of starting this blog was to focus on some of my hobbies and trying to unplug from work and do things that help me relax. 

One of the things I love is sketching and using watercolours and acrylic paints. Acrylic painting is hard to just pick up for an hour here and there, so I tend to go with ink sketching, then I colour it with watercolours.

I am no artist really, but I like the relaxing feeling that I get from just sitting and creating something.

I wanted to be able to be creative anytime and make it portable - so I put together a travel art kit for myself.

watercolour-to-go-kit

In my kit I have included:

  • a simple sketchbook - this paper is great for pen, ink and watercolours
  • Winsor & Newton - the Compact Set Watercolours - it comes with a water pan that attaches to the side if you are using regular brushes and need a well
  • Koi Self Moistening Watercolour Brushes - they have a reservoir in the handle that allows you to have mess free water on the go
  • Micron Pens - they are archival ink and waterproof, so you can sketch then colour with watercolours with no mess
  • Water bottle - to refill brushes or to use a normal watercolour brush
Time to myself spent well...

Time to myself spent well...

Want to build your own portable art kit? Here are some links to get started today!

Note: These are amazon affiliate links, which means I get a small commission for any sales that occur through these links. 

Smashing Blog Planner

I am happily celebrating starting my fourth month here at Persnickety Mama. I have been checking out some great online resources from places like Top Mom Blogger, and I took the Blog Life Course over at A Beautiful Mess. I have also been reading lots of great blogs and picking up tips here and there. Once of things that always comes up is blog planning. After being frustrated with trying to use online planning options, I headed to the local Staples store to grab a simple agenda to start planning posts, and keeping a to-do list just for the blog... problem is.... well it's June. Not a agenda to be found in site that starts before August.

Well, I am a crafty gal - so I decided to make one myself! I am using this for a blog planner, but this could work great as a personal or work calendar!

I have accumulated a number of SMASHBooks, so I figured I would start there with the Eco SMASHBook...

SMASHBook blog planner

Then I used Illustrator to create a calendar page that would fit nicely onto the individual pages, but still leave the fun papers as a border. I decided to use 2 pages per week with space for a To Do list.

I went through the book and chose colour combinations for the calendars based on the design of each page (yes, I like thing to match).

SmashBook Blog Planner

My calendar pages measured 6 inches wide and 9.5 inches tall. I have a TON of washi tape, so I thought it would be a fun was to adhere the pages without gluing them in. I wanted to be able to add photos and the bits pieces of inspiration I find for the blog as the weeks pass. Exactly what a SMASHBook is for!

SMASHBook Blog Planner

With the glue stick/pen attached to each SMASHBook, you can easily add things as you go! Hoping this helps me to stay organized.

Want to make your own? Here is my June - December 2014 printable calendar download. Print at 100% then trim down to 6 inches wide x 9.5 inches tall! If you are using the Eco SMASHBook, I did remove a few pages to make the layouts work the way I wanted, or just pages that I didn't like.

I had JUST enough pages to last me until the end of the year. These are the ones I removed if you want to have the calendar pages match the colours of each of the Eco SMASHBook pages.

SMASHBook Blog Planner

Hope this helps someone get organized!

French Macaron 101

I have been LOVING the fabulous courses available over at A Beautiful Mess. I started with the Blog Life course, then I bought the 52 Weeks of Art Journalling. Most recently, I picked up the French Macaron mini course. I have ALWAYS loved the beautiful colours and flavours of macarons, but they always seemed SOOOOOO difficult to make. I have a history of screwing up baking then spending the next hour angry about my failed attempts...

After going through the tutorials from the French Macarons 101, I felt comfortable about giving it a shot!

Got the pink mixing ninja out of the cupboard... laptop ready!

Got the pink mixing ninja out of the cupboard... laptop ready!

I used ground almonds from the bulk bins at my local store and pulsed them for one minute in my food processor to get them more like flour. I tried to use my flour sifter on the almonds, but it didn't work - so used a five sieve.  Everything else when fairly smoothly. Following the directions was VERY simple and it only took 3 batches to get to this...

french macaron 101

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When knitting projects go wrong...

My sister and I are close. The talk every day kind of close...

I OWE her a knitted gift (due to a previously unfinished knitted golf that she reminds me about ALL THE TIME) - so I found a beautiful chevron blanket to knit her.

knitting project

So I ordered the yarn and got started. As usual, I try and be thrifty, so I ordered a little more then I thought I would need to complete the project. MAN was I wrong.

Pretty... but too small to warm ANYONE!

Pretty... but too small to warm ANYONE!

So what is a girl to do... well make it into something new. First thing is first. FELT it. I placed it in the washing machine with a hot/cold wash and felted the knitted piece into this...

chevron blanket

I considered a few different ideas for things to do with the fabric - a wrap, mittens, a cowl??? I decided on something that would jazz up my plain living room... see what you think!

chevron blanket

Lovely... but I still owe my sister a gift.  What to make... what to make...


Like this post? Then you might like some of these too!

Mediterranean Eggs Benedict

Sundays mean sleeping in and brunch... we love just relaxing, then enjoying a nice breakfast together. This morning we enjoyed another twist on my favourite gluten free version of Eggs Benedict. Instead of using a gluten free bagel or toast, I have found that potato pancakes make a MUCH better substitute. Here is my latest twist - Mediterranean Eggs Benny.

gluten free eggs benedict

Gluten Free Mediterranean Eggs Benny

Makes 4 individual eggs benedicts, so serves 2 or 4 with other sides

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes - yellow jacket ones work for me
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt
  • 3 tbsp gluten free flour - I use Bob Red Mills All Purpose Baking Flour
  • 2 green onions
  • 10-12 grape tomatoes
  • 8 tbsp crumbled feta
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp dried oregano
  • greek seasoning
  • oil for frying

Equipment:

  • paper towel or cheese cloth
  • grater
  • baking sheet pan with parchment
  • frying pan that you can put 1/2" of oil in it
  • spatula
  • spoon

Directions:

  1. Turn on your over to 350F (175C). Place a baking pan on the counter with a layer of parchment on it. Set aside for now.
  2. Next, place several layers of paper towel or cheese cloth on your counter, or on top of a cutting board.
  3. Grate your potatoes (I don't bother peeling them) onto the paper or cheesecloth.
  4. Over the sink, squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the potatoes - place in a mixing bowl.
  5. Beat 2 eggs in a dish and add to the grated potatoes.
  6. Chop up your green onions. Place the white parts into the bowl with the potato and keep the greens for garnish at the end.
  7. Add garlic salt, gluten free flour and 2 tbsp of greek seasoning to the potato mixture. Stir until combined.
  8. Place oil in your pan so that it is about 1/2 inch. Heat oil to a temperature that a small bit of the mixture begins to cook when you drop it in.
  9. Place 1/4 of your potato mixture into the oil, flattening it with your spoon or spatula into a round shape. Don't worry about flattening it totally, as you can do that when it is flipped. Fry until golden brown then repeat for the other side, making sure that you flatten it into a pancake this time. Once both sides are brown, place on your baking sheet and transfer into your oven. Repeat this to create 4 potato pancakes. At this point they are fairly well cooked, but I place in the oven to crisp up a bit, but mostly to stay hot while I do the rest.
  10. Cook 4 eggs to your liking for eggs benedict. I did over easy fried eggs, but of course the traditional poached are great too! I just ALWAYS screw up poached eggs.
  11. Once your eggs are ready, take your potato pancakes out of the oven on place them on plates. 
  12. Place an egg on top of each and sprinkle on 2 tbsp of feta on each. 
  13. Top with your garnishes - toss tomatoes with the balsamic and place on the eggs. Top with greens from your green onion and oregano. Sprinkle a small amount of greek seasoning on top.
  14. ENJOY!
gluten free eggs benedict

When Project Life + Smashbook Collide...

I love journalling and taking photos - so of course I am a fan of Project Life. Last year, I discovered SMASHBooks which I love to have a place to put things I collect (read: drive my boyfriend crazy by taking menus/coasters from restaurants when on holidays etc). The thing that frustrates me about the SMASHBooks for journalling is that the pattern on the page often dictates the look and feel of your page - so I decided to take a simple sketchbook and use the supplies from both Project Life and SMASHBook in my journal.

Supplies: Simply Sketchbook 8.5 x 11 | Project Life Cards | Instax Photos taken with my Instax Mini 8 camera | Embellishments | Stamps

Supplies: Simply Sketchbook 8.5 x 11 | Project Life Cards | Instax Photos taken with my Instax Mini 8 camera | Embellishments | Stamps

IMG_1854.jpg

First I choose my photos for the journal entry and then choose some Project Life cards that I want to use for the layout. I then lay them out roughly to see where I have space for the journalling on my card. 

Project Life Smashbook

Sometimes I write my journal cards, but more often than not, I use Illustrator and print right on my project life cards. I like the uniform writing :) Wish that I could find a little typewriter - that would be more fun. Will have to watch some garage sales this summer!

Project Life Smashbook

Then finish up with my embellishments :) Quick 15 minutes to complete a simple journal page!

Don't miss my sweepstakes where I am giving away a BUNCH of SMASHBook supplies! Click here to enter today!

New Art Project | Craftsy Acrylic Painting

I recently discovered Craftsy. I have wanted to try some fine art classes and I figured this might be a great way to try some at my own pace. I signed up for a free account and downloaded some of the free lessons, and a couple of paid courses as well. The Craftsy App is a fantastic way to check out your lessons anywhere.

I breezed through my first lesson and spent the evening looking for my first subject to paint. I love flowers, but am a TERRIBLE gardener, so why not paint them :)  

Here are some of the photos I was inspired by :)

 

 

Heading to Michaels tomorrow to grab a couple more supplies and get started!

A Day in the Life | Birthday Edition

Well, it has come again... another birthday :)

Thought it would be a fun day to document A Day in the Life of... ME.

6:00 AM - Woke up to deal with a SUPER tight client deadline - and a completely sore throat - nice start :)

7:00 AM - This little lamb wakes up and proceeds to drag a blanket and 6 stuffies onto the couch :)

Sweet boy...

9:00 AM - Dropped the kiddo off at school and there was some serious Kindergarten commotion... baby ducks hatched today.

Good luck to his teacher today, who now has to try and keep their attention with a bunch of baby ducks in the classroom.  Bonne chance, Mme...

9:00 AM - 12:00 PM - Working today from my home office :) Which means yummy coffee all day from my Nespresso machine - Hazelnut Soy Lattes are on the menu today!

12:00 PM - Lunch break. Sipping coffee, reading Twitter and looking forward to dinner with the boys tonight! Treated myself to a 52-week art journalling course from A Beautiful Mess for a little birthday gift to myself, reading up on my supply list - check it out online here!

12:30 PM - 4:30 PM - Work, work and more work!

5:00 PM - Getting ready for time out with my guys - time to pick up the kiddo from Daycare and head to dinner!

Birthday Selfie!

Birthday Selfie!

6:00 - Dinner at Cuckoos with the boys - had some yummy wine and cioppino, a seafood antipasto and gluten free pizza (shared.... of course...). Had a great time!

The Boys...

The Boys...

Blurry pic taken by the kiddo!

8:00 PM - Kiddo off to bed - now to the couch with a tiny more wine, then to bed :)


Thanks for reading! Do you have a Day-in-the-Life? Share the link with me!

Also - don't miss my Birthday Sweepstakes - click below to head to the post!

Birthday Giveaway - SMASHbooks

I LOVE me some crafts - and today is my birthday, so figured it was a good time to share some blog love!

SMASHbooks are a favourite crafty project of mine - they slightly different than traditional scrapbooking in that you are meant to grab little bits and pieces though your travels and "Smash" them into your book - the books come packaged with a double sided pen/glue stick to capture your goodies on the go. They are great as a journal, photo book, or really anything you can think of.

Here is a cute promo video to give you an idea :)

Each book has themed pages - in the giveaway I have one each of the Tasty - a food themed book, Pretty - a girly nostalgic theme, and Eco - an earthy theme. The lucky winner will receive all three plus some fun extras!

SMASHBOOKS

 

 

Beauty Buy - Things to Review

Image Map

Every year, I share my birthday with Mother's Day Weekend. Which I love... This year, I treated myself to a little Birthday and Mother's Day Sephora shopping spree :)

Looking forward to reviewing all these FAB products :) Some are items I have NEVER used before - including false eyelashes :) Now I just need a reason to glam up!

10 Mothers Day Brunch Ideas!

Are you looking for the perfect way to thank Mom this Mother's Day? What about a beautiful brunch in her honour!

Here are 10 great go-to recipes for the perfect Mother's Day Brunch!
I found lots of little bites, a fantastic Mimosa bar and some gluten free goodness :)

Check out the photos below with links to the recipes on Pinterest!

ENJOY!

Who me? A very inspiring blogger? Really?

I was just thrilled to get a message from the lovely Maddy from The Fashionable Affair linking me as a Very Inspiring Blogger. Since I am very new to the blogging world, I was excited to share the love and show link love to other bloggers that inspire me :)

Very-Inspiring-Award.jpg

Here are the rules of the game:

  • Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you
  • List the rules
  • Share 7 things or facts about yourself
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their blogs to let them know you have nominated them and provide a link in your post
  • Display the award logo anywhere on your blog if you would like and follow the person who nominated you. 


7 things about me...

me

1.  I have a 6 year old son named Carson - he is the most fun and most wonderful part of my life. Funny, since I was always the "most likely to not have a kid" kinda girl. He is literally my favourite person to spend time with.

carson

2.  I live with my boyfriend of 4 years, he used to work for me at my marketing firm - so I guess I was "one of those kinda bosses" - kidding :) We both were going through messy divorces, and just clicked. He is fab and treats my boy like gold. He also teaches him things about things like Hip Hop and James Bond. Sigh...

3.  I grew up in Ontario, Canada and now live on beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia. It is beautiful and hardly snows. I rub it in to my family in Ontario ALL THE TIME.

4.   I love ALL kinds of music - depending on my mood I love everything from rap to classical music. I love how music can cheer you up, make you feel worse or remind you of a good/bad memory. We always have music on in the house. My son knows the words to WAY too many pop songs :)

5.  I LOVE to cook - I am a perfectionist so cooking leads to frustration a lot. I do try and make something new every week for the boys. I have a gluten allergy, so I try and remake gluten filled foods friendly for my tummy, but still yummy for the boys.

6.  I am making an effort this year to be more girly. I haven't ever spent a lot of time with my hair, makeup, fashion - but in the last year, I have made HUGE changes and spend more time trying to take care of myself. I even grew my hair out with extensions and get my hair and nails done once a week. I love how I feel when I have my act together...

7.  I LOVE to stay home. I like my things and the boys around me. I am always more happy to stay home then go out. I am trying to work on this as it makes me a little anti-social.

Upcoming Projects - Baking, Jewels & Project Life

Well I have been BUSY planning for the blog this week and have a LOT of great projects ready to start! Here are a few that I am working on!

In the Kitchen...Macaroons!

With Spring well on it's way, I want to try out macaroons. With the whole gluten free thing, there are a lot of yummy desserts that I have to pass on - so I wanted to try a few different treats for the boys and I try enjoy! Plus I am obsessed with all things French and fantastique!

French Macaroons from the Food Network - make this beauty or any of the other six flavour combos here

French Macaroons from the Food Network - make this beauty or any of the other six flavour combos here

Crafty Necklace DIY

I picked up one of the Design Academy sets from Michaels with the basic tools, finding etc to try out some DIY jewellery. I haven't worked on anything like this - so we will see how I make out. Planning to start with something basic and work my way to more complicated projects!

Picked up some pretty beads to make a couple of big chunky necklaces for work.

Picked up some pretty beads to make a couple of big chunky necklaces for work.

I have been searching around Pinterest, Etsy and EBay for ideas - here were some of the pieces I saw that inspired me to try it out!

necklaces.jpg

Journalling our everyday with Project Life

project life

I purchased a whole bunch of Project Life stuff (read: 3 core kits... I have a problem) when we were away on holidays over Christmas and have not started my 2014 Project Life. I spent the evening picking out all my photos from January until the end of March and they are all getting printed and picked up tomorrow. 

Once I get the photos placed somewhat in order, I will pick out cards and do some journalling about the events / things we did. Once those two steps are done, I can doll up the pages with embellishments. Perfection...

Lots to come! What DIY, craft or journalling projects are you working on?

The BEST Gluten Free Eggs Benedict Solution!

Ok, so I think it is the best... you may disagree, but give it a shot.

One of the tragedies of not being able to eat wheat is missing bread. Manufacturers and bakers are getting better, but let's face it - gluten free bread still leaves you yearning for fresh out of the oven - REAL BREAD.

Recently I came up with a good alternative to the boring, stale, must-be-toasted-to-be-edible gluten free english muffins/bagels. The secret weapon for you? Well it's potato pancakes! Here is my gluten free but you won't even miss bread Tex Mex Eggs Benedict!

gluten free text mex eggs benny

Gluten Free Tex Mex Eggs Benedict

Makes 4 individual eggs benedicts, so serves 2 or 4 with other sides

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes - yellow jacket ones work for me
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt
  • 3 tbsp gluten free flour - I use Bob Red Mills All Purpose Baking Flour
  • 2 green onions
  • 4 slices of tomato
  • 8 slices of avocado
  • 4 tbsp grated cheddar cheese
  • 4 tbsp salsa
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 4 tbsp Tex-Mex Seasoning (Club House, your own) or make the blend
  • oil for frying

Equipment:

  • paper towel or cheese cloth
  • grater
  • baking sheet pan with parchment
  • frying pan that you can put 1/2" of oil in it
  • spatula
  • spoon

Directions:

  1. Turn on your over to 350F (175C). Place a baking pan on the counter with a layer of parchment on it. Set aside for now.
  2. Next, place several layers of paper towel or cheese cloth on your counter, or on top of a cutting board.
  3. Grate your potatoes (I don't bother peeling them) onto the paper or cheesecloth.
  4. Over the sink, squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the potatoes - place in a mixing bowl.
  5. Beat 2 eggs in a dish and add to the grated potatoes.
  6. Chop up your green onions. Place the white parts into the bowl with the potato and keep the greens for garnish at the end.
  7. Add garlic salt, gluten free flour and 2 tbsp of tex-mex seasoning to the potato mixture. Stir until combined.
  8. Place oil in your pan so that it is about 1/2 inch. Heat oil to a temperature that a small bit of the mixture begins to cook when you drop it in.
  9. Place 1/4 of your potato mixture into the oil, flattening it with your spoon or spatula into a round shape. Don't worry about flattening it totally, as you can do that when it is flipped. Fry until golden brown then repeat for the other side, making sure that you flatten it into a pancake this time. Once both sides are brown, place on your baking sheet and transfer into your oven. Repeat this to create 4 potato pancakes. At this point they are fairly well cooked, but I place in the oven to crisp up a bit, but mostly to stay hot while I do the rest.
  10. Cook 4 eggs to your liking for eggs benedict. I did over easy fried eggs, but of course the traditional poached are great too! I just ALWAYS screw up poached eggs.
  11. Once your eggs are ready, take your potato pancakes out of the oven on place them on plates. Top with a slice of tomato and 2 slices of avocado.
  12. Place an egg on top of each and grated cheese. I usually throw the plate in the oven for a minute to let the cheese melt a bit.
  13. Top with your garnishes - greens from your green onion, cilantro, salsa and sour cream. Use the last 2 tbsp of tex-mex seasoning to season the top of the 4 eggs benedicts. 
  14. ENJOY!