Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How to Make Your Own Designer Holiday Cards

Considering I start doing my Christmas cards at the beginning of November, this post is long overdue.

My guest post for today over at Modern Parents Messy Kids pushed me to finally put something together, so go check out that post, and come on back here for a read!

Last year, I used some fun graphics and sayings, and designed and printed my own Christmas cards on DIY wedding invitations. That's right, wedding invitations. They're blank, so who says you can't use them for other things, right?

This year I decided to do our first ever holiday photo card, mostly because we actually had a professional photo to work with.

There are so many amazing options now for photo cards, but two of my favourite sites are tinyprints and minted. The pricing and quality can't be beat for professional, custom cards, and if you have the time and the want for them, they are definitely worth consideration.

I decided to do something on my own this year, however, and was more than pleased with the results. I took our professional photo, added a little "faux snow" and a holiday greeting on my graphics program, converted to .jpg, and uploaded it online to be printed and picked up at Wally World just a couple hours later. I can't believe how fast it was (I honestly haven't had my digital photos turned to prints in years), and how well my graphics turned out super-imposed on the photo. I even made one print with two smaller photos, so my one 20 cent photo gave me two prints (10 cents each, woo hoo!). Now, I still like to write a personal message, so I include these prints in the sleeve of an actual card and not alone, but everybody does it differently!

I've been pounding away at writing the Christmas cards ever since, and with each photo I tape into the card, I'm more and more happy with how it turned out, and how inexpensive it was.

Best of all, if I run out of cards, I can just order more.

Here are some samples I designed to show you all the options you can have if you make your own.

My favourite part about printing your own photo cards is that you can mix and match. You could have 4 different photos (say a family photo, a baby photo, a dog photo, etc) and have 4 different photo card designs to send to people. There are no minimums on how many you can print, so if you only want 10 photo cards of your dog, then go for it! Options, people! How amazing is that?

To make your prints look even more custom, try using a corner punch (buy at Walmart or Michaels) to round off the edges, or frame your print with some card stock.

If you aren't so sure how to custom design your own cards, my guest post at MPMK has all the cheater tricks you could ever ask for (no graphic skills required!)

So what do you think? Do you like this idea for last minute Christmas photo cards?

(Who would believe me if I told you my two model families are actually BOTH Smith families. No seriously, they are. No joke.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Update, and Inside your Pantry | Lo's Spice Rack

I swear I'm still alive.

I took a wee, unintended break from blogville for various reasons - but mostly because I've been spending a lot of what little spare time I have focusing on healthy recipes and nutrition. I'm really passionate about being creative with healthy food, but alas this is not a nutrition blog so I don't want it to overwhelm the Social Home. With Christmas coming, I'm sure to get re-inspired in the home department and will have some fun and creative posts your way!

In the meantime, go and visit reader and fellow blogger Lo, who just re-did her pantry and spice rack using some of my labels. She did an incredible job and I am totally crushing on those aqua spice containers! I die!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Healthy Home | Eggnog Smoothie

I'm not sure what jingles my bells more; hearing Mariah's "All I want for Christmas" for the first time of the season, or chugging an iced cold glass of eggnog.

Preferably I'd be doing both simultaneously.

Unfortunately, my new found interest in healthful living (and subsequent plant-based eating) ultimately tossed a wrench in 50% of that plan. A couple of years ago (before even being a soy milk drinker) I tried a Soynog alternative hoping for a healthier version. Not so much. It didn't even compare, so why bother?

So I decided to make my own....

And then I took it one step further, and I thought, why not try and make it into a delicious smoothie, and one with natural, healthful ingredients?

And SmoothieNog was born.

I'm not big on tooting my own horn, but goodness gracious this smoothie is delcious. Thick, creamy, frosty and, for me, as eggnogy as it gets without using real eggnog or even eggs for that matter.

So here it is, a vegan, no-refined-sugar, healthy fat and fibre full smoothie that you can enjoy guilt-free all season long!

  • 1 cup soy milk (or milk beverage of your choice)
  • 1 large frozen banana (freeze at least the day before, peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 3-4 small pitted dates or 2 large*
  • Approx 3 - 5 almonds
  • 1 tbsp healthy seed mix (my go to is flax, chia, hemp hearts and buckwheat, but just chia or flax would work great for this)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp rum extract (depending on how rummy you like it!)
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg (save some to sprinkle on top)

(*not required, but definitely kicks this drink up a notch- if you don't have dates in your house I fully suggest adding them to your pantry- I use them EVERY day and they make a great alternative to many sweeteners.)

For bonus points, add a cup of spinach. It'll up the nutritional benefits and you won't even taste it!

Note: I made mine in my NutriBullet (love it!). A Vita Mix would be wonderful for this, but if you only have a Magic Bullet or blender you still should be fine. I would recommend milling the almonds and seeds separately first and then adding that mixture when you blend the rest of the ingredients for the best consistency.

Good luck and happy nogging!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New Pantry Labels! | "La Terre" Collection

If you thought my pantry was organized and well stocked, well, you'd be wrong. Sure, this one "pantry cupboard" looks pretty nifty, but the rest, not so much.

Since switching out "the husband diet" for a more healthful, nutritious way of eating, I have found my pantry items and cupboard composition have completely changed. Gone are the boxes or canisters of pasta and crackers and packaged goods. In their place, a bounty of organic bulk food items in plastic baggies with twist ties. Nuts of every variety, dried beans, dried herbs, grains and seeds.

Something had to be done. The baggies were killing me. Sure, I had them in one of my trusty bins, but I could not get over the fact that I use these ingredients everyday, while the items in my Vintage Blue pantry barely get touched anymore.

Having no glass containers left, I headed back to Dollorama to stock up. They never fail me there. I love them so much.

My bulk items were now happy to have a glass house, but as every organizer knows, labels are essential.

One would think a person of my nature would be matchy matchy. That I would NEED my new "bulk food" labels to match my blue pantry labels.

But no, I decided to throw a twist in there and do something entirely different! I may be a Type A, but I figured if I put these containers in a new pantry cupboard, let's call it my "healthy" pantry, then it's allowed to have it's own identity, right?

They are simple. Practical. Beautiful. I like that I can add in some desciptives below (not pictured, but on other labels I've added a quick reference to the nutiritional info, or a cooking time). I am rather found of them.

You can buy yourself some Martha kraft labels from Staples and whip something similar up pretty easily. If you don't have access to a printer, or just don't like to do these kinds of things, I plan on listing "La Terre" labels in my shop tomorrow! (NOTE- These labels are now discontinued - so sorry!)

Hope you like them!

xo J

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Easy DIY | Painted Dollar Store Wine Rack

Sometimes it's the smallest, easiest, and cheapest of projects that can bring the most joy.

Take this wine rack par exemple.

I found this beauty for $1.50 at an independent dollar store a couple of years ago (shocking that it's not Dollorama, hey?). As soon as I spotted it, I appreciated the simple design. It was painted black wood, with rope at both the top and the bottom (I removed the bottom rope before painting in the photo above). 

I am now kicking myself for not buying every single one they carried- you honestly couldn't make this thing for even close to what it cost to buy.

I used it as is in our previous home, and when we moved, I stashed it away as I didn't know what to do with it.

I finally decided to give it a little new life and whipped out my one dolla Martha Stewart paint samples. I mixed my own blend of Arucuan Teal and Sea Glass to find a medium tone that I loved.

Easy switch up, but the colour makes me happy! Add in a few bottles of Christian Lacroix Evian water I bought at Homesense a while back, and for a few bucks I've got a snazzy looking accessory for my buffet.

I love the way that sunlight filters through the bottles. So pretty.

Any easy switch ups you've done lately that have made a big impact?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Healthy Home | Growing Greens to Save Some Green

No, not THAT kind of green. I know it's easy to generalize because I do live in BC, but that is NOT me, friends!

The kind of greens I'm growing are of the broccoli variety. Broccoli sprouts to be exact.

Let's preface this with I am not a hippie, a hipster, nor a granola-loving, Birkenstock wearing tree hugger (nothing wrong with them, I'm just not one, although my hubby seems to think I'm on my way).

I also do not have a green thumb. At all.

But, when I heard that broccoli sprouts have 50 times the nutrition of broccoli, and that their seeds were ridiculously easy to sprout, I just couldn't say no.

According to my new obsession, Dr. Greger from, broccoli sprouts have the biggest nutritional bang for your buck. For about 25 cents, you can have a cup of uber nutritious, freshly grown broccoli sprouts. Check out the video here. (PS, I am not affiliated with Nutrition Facts or Dr. Greger in any way whatsoever, I just LOVE the way nutritional studies are presented on that website and have found it the most useful resource in my constant quest for better health).

The number one reason I decided to give it a go is because I eat a lot of greens. I spend a lot of money on organic greens to make salads and to blend in with my smoothies, so I am constantly heading to the store and spending money I'd rather spend on future window treatments. So what did I have to lose?

One tablespoon of seeds yields two cups of broccoli sprouts which is nutritionally equivalent to 50 cups of broccoli. Yup, that's what I call a superfood. Oh, and that 2 cups cost 50 cents, so if you're looking at it per pound of broccoli nutrition as Dr. Gregor states, that's like 1 penny per pound of broccoli.

What do they taste like? Quite a lot like raw broccoli, with a little spicy radish kick. Do I crave them like I crave chocolate? Nope, no sireee. But they are great as a base to my salad and added to wraps and sandwiches. I am now forever a sprout convert.

Want to learn how you can sprout to?

1. Buy some organic broccoli seeds. I got mine from a great Canadian company called Mumms. They ship to the US as well, with free shipping on orders over a certain value. Expect to pay about $20 per pound (about 75- 80 cups of brocoli sprouts). I ordered the 2 pound bag for $40 with free shipping and went halfers with a friend so we could both give it a go.

2. Get your screen. I bought actual screen used to make window screens at HomeDepot. It was $10 for a big roll, so I will have screens for the rest of my lifetime. I also split this with a friend because there was just so much of it.

3. Measure one tablespoon of seeds into a 2-cup (standard size) mason jar. Cut a small screen and secure to the top using an elastic band or the original canning ring. (Alternatively, you can put two tbsp in a four-cup large mason jar if you want a lot of sprouts).

4. Almost fill with cold water, swirl around, and drain. Fill half again with cold water, and let soak for TWO hours.

5. Drain again, rinse again. When draining after that rinse, drain on a 45 degree angle so your seeds rest along the side of the mason jar from top to bottom. Rest your jar, screen side down, on something with a 45 degree angle. I used a white dish I had, but I've seen online where people use dish drying racks. I like my version because it's a little less ugly to look at day in day out.

6. Rinse, drain, repeat every 12 hours. I'm on an 8:00 AM/ 8:00 PM schedule so I never forget. Add in additional jars every day if you like, so you can have four or five jars on the go and have fresh greens every. single. day.

7. Once that two-cup mason jar is looking pretty full, it's time to harvest. I take the screen off, pull out my sprouts and stick them in a large mixing bowl. Cover with water to de-hull. The little brown seed guys that are now empty will float to the top. There a few ways to do this, but I generally just fill the bowl with cold water then push my hand on the sprouts so the hulls float to the surface, and then dump the water out. Do this a few time and most will be gone.

8. Put the wet sprouts back in your jar with the screen and shake out the excess water. Put back on your draining system for a couple of hours, and then enjoy your fresh, LIVE and GROWING greens packed with antioxidants, phytonutrients and other cancer fighting properties. You can also move them to the fridge in a storage container where they will be fresh for a few days.

There are so many yummy salads out there you can make, and just replace the green mix with sprouts! I love the one in the photo at the top of the page. Check out that recipe right here.

For more information on why to sprout, and what the benefits are, check out this post.

I hope you give it a go! This is one of those "Why haven't I ever tried this before?" moments for me. It's easy, inexpensive, and nutritious!