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Budget friendly DIY Letterboard

So I have seen these things floating around on my Instagram account and on Pinterest quite a bit. I wanted one so I started looking to see what it would cost. These things are like $200 bucks online and let’s be real, my cash flow for novelty items is on the low to non-existent side. So, I figured I should make one!

I got some inspiration from Pinterest and went to work on my budget friendly version.

First I bought all of the materials. See below for the list of things you will need to complete this letterboard.

Materials/Tools:

  • 1 picture frame (mine was 11×15)
  • Black felt
  • 1/4″ wooden dowels
  • Hot glue gun
  • Glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Mitre saw
  • Cardboard (I used this for my frame backing)
  • Letterboard letters

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First thing I did was cut my dowels to size with a mitre box. It’s really easy and pretty user friendly if you dont want to use power tools.

I bought 4′ dowels from Home Depot so I got 3 cuts from each rod. There was some waste, but I had my frame already so it couldn’t be helped. If you want to calculate the cuts or get precut dowels you could avoid any waste and maybe save some $$. I used 14 4′ dowels so it cost me roughly $14 tax included.

For the frame, I purchased one from Michael’s, from the clearance rack for $10 and just used some cardboard as my backing since it didn’t come with one. **Make sure when you buy your frame that it will be deep enough for your dowels.** I cut the cardboard to size and hot glued it in my frame. If your frame has a back, you can skip this step.

Next I measured and cut out my felt pieces. I made them about 1 1/2″ wide and a little longer than my dowel length, about 11 1/4″.

Once I had all my pieces cut, I started to hot glue them to my dowels. I found the best method for this was to hot glue the length of one side of the felt and then roll the dowel through the glue so that it picks up the felt and keeps things even. Then I hot glued the other side and rolled it in the opposite direction. Doing this kept the felt tightly wrapped.

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I repeated this for what felt like a hundred times and them set the felted dowels in the frame to see how they would fit. I didn’t hot glue everything until the end.

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Once I had all my dowels covered I started to hot glue them into the frame. You want to glue them as tightly together as you can. This step is crucial so that your letters for the board will stay on.

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I used a lot of glue sticks for this project. The entire bag of 40 to be exact. Luckily they were only like $3 at Michael’s.

Here is a picture of the finished board. I set it up as I awaited my letters to arrive in the mail from Amazon. 🙂

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I looked in store for letters but they weren’t available anywhere. So, I did what is becoming a fond pastime of mine…online shopping!

I found Tabbee letters on Amazon.ca for about $20. I thought that was kind of pricey but, thems the breaks kids. Maybe you can find them cheaper.

When they arrived, I was a bit of a kid at Christmas. I tore into them at 10PM at night. Yep, that’s when my package arrived. It had been a long day. The baby was fussy, the other two kids were running around and not going to bed, despite many warnings. Finally, the upstairs was quiet when the mailman came to the door and our dog started barking loudly, which of course drew inquisitive little ones back to the top of the stairs to see who it was. I got them back to bed and the dog settled down and this is what I came up with for the board. I thought it very fitting after the night I had had.

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Here is what I spent:

  • Frame $10
  • Felt $2
  • Glue sticks $3
  • Dowels $14
  • Letters $20

Grand Total = $49 Bucks!!

All in all, I love it and it didn’t break the bank. I was able to complete the project for a fraction of what I saw them going for online. It may not be professionally manufactured, but it is made with love and I’m sure my fingertips will grow back after all that hot glue madness! 🙂

Try your own and let me know how it turns out. Happy crafting 🙂

Brynna xx

 

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Mommy brain 101

So this is a story about mommy brain at its finest.

You moms out there know what I am talking about. It’s ridiculous, but it is a real thing. It makes me forget things I should know and do things that are just plain off.

Mommy brain has struck again. This time involving, meatloaf…

I had cooked some meatloaf for my family and we had it for dinner but there were leftovers which I put in the fridge. I ate it for lunch a couple of days and then it sat in the fridge for about a week untouched.

I was cleaning out the fridge and decided the meatloaf had to go. This is where the mommy brain comes in. Due to my fragile state and lack of logic it seems, I decided that a good place to get rid of the meatloaf was to flush it down the toilet in our bathroom off the kitchen.

Walking past the garbage can, I went in the bathroom, dropped it in the toilet and pulled the lever. Immediately after doing so my logic returned and I thought, hmm, why did you just do that. The thought could not even complete itself before BAM, toilet was plugged. I tried plunging without success. Every time I tried to flush it, the water would rise to the top and then slowly drain out…. so I left it.

When my husband came home I told him the tale of the lodged meatloaf. He gave me his sideways glance of disapproval and tried to plunge the toilet, without success. We proceeded to have a conversation about what compelled me to flush the meatloaf and all I could do was laugh about how ridiculous of an idea that was. Clearly, I was not in my right mind. 😉

“Why would you flush a cold, solid chunk of meatloaf down the toilet? Why wouldn’t you just put it in the garbage?”

Through uncontrollable giggles, I explained that this very thought had come to my mind as well, but unfortunately a moment too late.

In addition, I gave my husband the small detail that the meatloaf, which was about 2 inches in width and 3 in height, had not been broken up first. When I told him this and he looked at me in disbelief I could not control my laughter. His response was, “Why would you flush a cold, solid chunk of meatloaf down the toilet? Why wouldn’t you just put it in the garbage?”

Through uncontrollable giggles, I explained that this very thought had come to my mind as well, but unfortunately a moment too late.

Mommy brain at its best!

I received another lashing when my 4 year old daughter came home from school and wanted to pee on the potty. Upon trying to flush the toilet, the water rose to the rim as it had 10 times before. My husband told her what happened and she was very cross, telling me that people don’t want to sit on a potty with the water that high. Her logic, while cute, was accurate.

For the next two days my husband and I would try to plunge the meatloaf free, without success.

Over those two days all I could think of was Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers yelling, “MOM, THE MEATLOAF” and it made me laugh at the situation I got us in.

Today I gave it another go and a huge bubble came up from the deep, like a submarine making it’s way to the surface. The meatloaf was free! The water left the toilet and a tiny bit of my sanity washed away with it.

I’m excited to let my husband know I fixed the toilet. I think maybe in the future I will recall this story as the time I fixed the toilet, not the time I lost my brain down the drain, starring, our leftovers!

Brynna xx

 

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Welcoming baby #3…Here we go again!

Back on the blog and back on maternity leave! Since my last post, we have added another little one to our brood. ❤

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Daniel. Isn’t he just the sweetest thing?!

We are up to three now. Three! Three incredible, beautiful babies. I am seriously feeling the love around here.

This may be it. According to my husband “this is it”. I will remain on the fence, even though just a few weeks ago I was cursing pregnancy up and down and was certain I would never ever remotely allow the thought of growing another human to enter my brain.

Why is that? How do we as mothers forget so quickly? For me, I’m sure it’s because once I conquered childbirth, (despite the begging and screaming for medication that arrived too late), I felt the indescribable relief of this little boy leaving my body and once I held him in my arms, I realized why it was all worth it and perhaps why maybe, I say maybe, I could do it again.

Love for your newborn is a scary thing. It makes you drunk on life. It makes you ignore all reason. It makes you forget all the hard parts. I’m not talking the beginning hard parts; the shrinking uterus, sore nipples, sleepless nights hard parts. I’m not even talking about the up to your elbows in poopy diapers part, and oh my did I forget how many times a newborn poops…and that it somehow finds its way out the leg hole of the diaper at record speed. Every. Single. Time. What’s with that, seriously?!

No, the hard parts, for me anyway, are the toddler years. The hard part is taking two kids in two different directions in the morning. Or fighting traffic in the evening to get to their school and daycare before it closes and cursing the driver in front of you who doesn’t know which lane is the passing lane and which is the slow lane.

Hard is wrangling a 40-pound toddler onto the toilet and bribing them with stickers if they will “just please try and push out some poop!”

The hard part is having a very cranky child or two clinging to your legs whilst whining and repeatedly asking for milk at 5 p.m., when you are trying to make pasta for the third time that week because that is all your children will eat. Hard is continuously making healthy dinners and then negotiating one bite of food off their plate so that at least you can say they ate a bite. Hard is wrangling a 40-pound toddler onto the toilet and bribing them with stickers if they will “just please try and push out some poop!” The list goes on and on…and on and on. Don’t even get me started on bath time and bed time.

Yes, all of those things are hard. But yet, in the couple weeks it’s been since I started writing this post, (children occupy a lot of my free time these days) those hard parts have gotten a little easier. I think having the newest baby has added even more love and structure to our home and the adjustment period is over. The kids seem to be listening a little better these days, or maybe we have found a bit more patience since the new baby arrived. All I know is I hope it continues!

My husband said the other night, “we have 3 kids under 5, a dog (who is still a pup), we are potty training, we are trying to have a life of our own and still try and find time for one another. It’s madness.” Yes, madness it is. But then there are little moments where the kids are playing nicely together and laughing, and it makes all the hard parts not that hard. The joy that comes from those giggles means we are doing the best we can and it is mostly working. We have our bad days like anyone else. Me, I have my meltdowns and “yelly” days, but mostly I think the new baby has helped me calm down a lot and take things more in stride. Really that’s all you can do when you are in this baby/toddler stage. Otherwise, you just have a hoarse throat and mom guilt! 😉

I think knowing this could be the last baby has made me put life on pause a little bit and just take the time to enjoy the present. Because despite even the hardest of days, the present is pretty good!

Brynna xx

 

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Day to Day Thoughts of a Thirty-Something Mom

I have often thought about what I would say if I could go back and talk to my 20 year old self. It wasn’t so long ago that I was in my twenties. It wasn’t long ago, yet it almost feels like a past life. I was young. Not only in appearance. Not only in taut muscles and fresh-faced skin, but also in my behaviours, in my interests and in my complete and utter love and devotion of me! HA, I was kind of on easy street. At the time I thought I was so completely bogged down by life. I was a little naive. I was selfish. 

Looking back, it was GREAT! It is incredible how just the simplest of moments were taken for granted. How busy and important I thought I was. How when brought up in conversation, I had so much on the go, I mean, I could barely find the time to do my laundry.

That is laughable now.

Now, I really do find it hard to find time for laundry. Perhaps this is because there is exponentially more laundry to do. Now, a married thirty-something with two kids, I get it. Slow down. Appreciate. Well, ok, let’s be honest, I am working on those last two bits. But the fact that I am working on it, means I recognize the importance of living life and not just living life.

“I have learned to manage stress on another level. But from what I hear, I am still in the easy stage.”

I know that each stage in my life has prepared me for the next. It has given me the strength and knowledge I needed to move forward. Within the span of 5 years I got married, bought and sold our first home, had two kids, bought our second home and settled in for what I hope is a place we will stay for a bit. I have learned to manage stress on another level. But from what I hear, I am still in the easy stage.

I’m not at the little league stage, or dance recitals, or even school. I don’t have to run the roads every weekend for competitive sports or get out there and show how involved I am by volunteering on the PTA. Right now, life is good.

In all likelyhood, I will do all those things. I hope to be that involved mom that my kids look up to. The mom who can do it all. If being a parent has taught me anything, it is that you can fit a lot more into your day than you think. In fact, the busier I am, the more organized I become. The less time I have, the more I seem to carve out moments for spending meaningful time with my kids and even still, for making time for me!

“Me time” means something different now. It means staying in touch with friends and not holding silly grudges. It means taking time to go to yoga and trying to live a healthy lifestyle so that I can be around when my kids and grand-kids are grown. It means taking an interest in things I once didn’t spend much time on, like politics, making smart financial decisions and being aware of who I am and what I want from life.

Thirty year old me is a different selfish than my twenty-something self. Now, I am selfish because I ask for entirely too many hugs, from both my kids and my husband. I give an extra tickle, belly kiss, or act completely foolish just to hear my kids giggle. I am selfish in that I would rather save for our future, than splurge too much on material things in the now. I selfishly experiment with my cooking and use my little family as my guinea pigs 😉 And, I selfishly close the bathroom door for a moments peace, albeit brief, as a closed door seems to invite the never-ending questions and “mama’s” that inevitably seem to start once your kids notice you have left the room.

I think if I could go back to my 20 year old self, I would tell her to savour all the little extras. All the me time, all the disposable income (DAMN YOU DAYCARE)!!! I’d tell her to enjoy those mornings in bed, when you can’t decide whether you are going to sleep in or maybe do absolutely nothing with the day, just because you can. Oh, and go ahead, drink that last beer, tomorrow is Saturday and why else would they have all day breakfast joints?!

I would tell her to truely appreciate the freedom that is being young and wide eyed about life. But most of all, I would tell her that although my twenties were great, there is something so much more incredible ahead. Something that is worth the jogging pant, no makeup, I don’t shower because what’s the point, zombie like state. Motherhood. It’s fantastic…for reals.

Brynna ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rice Pudding/Rice Kheer

So in my last post, I mentioned I have been experimenting with my cooking. I have tried to make some things a little outside of my comfort zone. This includes some mild Indian cooking. I have been trying to get my kids to explore different flavours, and so far it has been going well.

I don’t think it matters what cuisine you are used to; there are certain foods that you like and there are certain ones you don’t, no matter how many times you try to. Over time my taste buds have evolved and I find myself liking things I wouldn’t have touched as a kid. I hope that this is the case for my daughter…and eggs. No matter how many times and ways I have prepared them, she is just not a fan. Like, who doesn’t like eggs?! So instead I get creative and mask the eggs in various dishes so that she doesn’t know she is eating them…like pumpkin french toast…mmm.

Anyway, today’s post is a twist on a dessert that I have enjoyed since I was a child. Rice pudding! It is one of my favorite desserts that my mom would make for us. My mom is the ultimate busy bee. No matter how tired she was, she always had a healthy, home cooked meal on the table for dinner. She would also often make dessert…and some really good ones at that.

I love the simplicity of this dessert and decided to do a spin on traditional rice pudding with the Indian dessert, rice kheer. Kheer has a similar method of preparation but with additional spices that I love. This is a really simple dessert to make, which makes it a win in our house! Enjoy!

Ingredients List:

  • 1 1/2 Cups cooked Basmati rice
  • 2 Cups milk
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1 Egg beaten
  • 1/4 Cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 Tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 Tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 Tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 Tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 Cup golden raisins
  • 1 Tbsp sliced almonds (optional)

Method:

  • Mix cooked rice, milk, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg in a saucepan over low to medium heat.

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  • Stir every few minutes for 15-20 minutes or until the pudding starts to thicken.

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  • Next add the sugar, beaten egg and raisins and stir constantly, ensuring it is well blended. You may add a 1/4 cup more milk to the mixture to help blend, if needed.
  • Continue to stir constantly for a few minutes to ensure the egg is set.
  • Remove from heat, stir in butter and vanilla extract.

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  • You can serve rice pudding warm or cold. My preference is warm with a little bit of milk poured over top, just like my mama used to do ❤

I hope you enjoy this light, flavourful dessert as much as I do. Feel free to experiment with little additions of your own to make it even more tasty. Perhaps you could try sweetening with maple syrup or honey instead of sugar and see how it turns out. 🙂 Have fun!!

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Brynna

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Homemade Butter Chicken

So, I know I have been a while in between posts and all I have to say for this is; I have two kids and a husband y’all. I’m busy! 😉 But I am baaaack and with a new tasty recipe to boot.

As you know I am back to work now. You can read my pre-back-to-work meltdown here. More of a sad realization really. Anyway, I have climbed that mountain and will tell you about it in another post down the road.

As for my job, I work in a very multicultural environment. I have coworkers that are French, Irish, Bengali, Aboriginal, Jamaican…it’s great! I love to hear their stories of where they come from, how they got to where they are and also, what they consider to be comfort food. Authentic cuisine. I have been thinking a lot about food lately and how as individuals, our comforts are so deeply rooted in what we eat and the culture we grew up in.

I want to explore different cuisines and share my successes and flops with you. Well, maybe not my flops…but I will tell you about how to avoid them.

See, I make my family eat not so appetizing meals so yours won’t have to. You’re welcome.

Today I am working on my spices. I have tried to make butter chicken a couple times and this time it actually worked out. My husband and kids went back for seconds. And as all moms know, your kids are your toughest and most honest critics. How honest you say, well, last time I made butter chicken, they both spit it out, refused to eat it and we ended up giving them a peanut butter sandwich instead. I chalked that one up to a real loss. Thankfully tonight’s meal was a win!!!

My husband doesn’t do well with spicy and really, neither do our kids. Canadian cooking isn’t what you would call spicy cuisine. So for the butter chicken tonight, I made it mild.

I used basmati rice for the first time and it was so incredibly fluffy and amazing. Ugh, so good!

I started with the rice and thinking it would be similar to my minute rice measurements, I made 2 cups rice to 4 cups water. Umm, yeah, it literally made a full pot of rice. Luckily, I came up with a great recipe for the leftovers, but you’ll see that in my next post.

I advise you follow the package instructions and soak the rice first and rinse it. It makes a difference.

So here is the butter chicken recipe. I hope it turns out for you and you like it as much as my family did.

Mild Butter Chicken

Ingredients:

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp cardamom

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon tandoori or garam masala

2 or 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 onion

2 large tomatoes diced

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup thick cream

Basmati Rice, to serve

Method:

  1. Make Basmati rice as per package instructions.
  2. Put oil into large heated skillet and add cubed chicken and sliced onion.
  3. Sautee chicken and onion for a few minutes on medium heat until no longer pink and remove from pan.
  4. Add the butter and all of your spices to the pan; garlic, ginger, cardamom, cumin, coriander, masala and mix together.
  5. Allow the spices to cook for 2-3 minutes. Keep the heat on low and mix frequently. It will thicken up quickly.
  6. Next, add the chicken stock, diced tomatoes and chicken/onions back to the pan with the spice paste. Allow that to cook on medium-low for 5 minutes and then add the cream.
  7. Continue to cook on medium-low heat for another 5-7 minutes stirring often.
  8. And that’s it. Serve with rice and enjoy!

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I really think the rice made the dish. It was so fluffy. It soaked up all the sauce and was light and airy. This would go great with some naan bread if you have that on hand.

So, give this recipe a go and let me know how it turned out.

Enjoy!!

Brynna

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How to make the perfect smash cake…and perfectly smash it!

My little boy turned ONE not long ago and to capture this sweet age, we opted for a cake smash photo session. I had to bring my own cake so, I wanted to make something pint sized.

I had intended to make something healthy. I wanted to be completely organized, but in true Brynna style, I was not! So instead of making one of these healthy recipes, I went the easy peas-y box cake route. I know, horrible mom, right?! 😉 At least I had good intentions.

I didn’t have a tiny cake pan, but instead of going out and searching for one with my limited time and budget, I improvised. I had seen this method a few places and so I decided I was going to try it…the baby formula tin cake.

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It may seem crazy but, it works. You can use your can opener to get rid of the lip of the can which will make it easier to remove the cake once it has been baked.

I mixed the cake according to the instructions on the box and surprisingly, the entire box only filled about 3/4 of the formula can.

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Next, I popped it in the oven and using the nine inch pan cook time as my guide, I baked this wee cake into a beautiful little smash cake.

This little guy couldn’t wait for his big photo shoot. Or maybe he was just drawn to the sweet smell of yummy cake wafting through the house. Either way, he was ready to eat cake.

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Once the cake was done, I let it cool for a good hour and then dumped it out and cut the rounded top off of it and this is what I was left with.

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I sliced it in three to add the good part, the icing. I wanted a nice blue icing. I mixed up about a half cup of icing sugar with a tsp of butter and a tablespoon of milk, give or take, as well as a few drops of blue food colouring. Then I spread it in between the little slabs of cake.

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Now, I’m no pastry chef. But this little cake was made with ❤ love ❤ so I ignored the fact that it was a little lopsided and uneven.

I covered the whole cake with a crumb coat (thin layer of icing) and put it in the fridge overnight to firm up. In the morning I mixed up more icing and coated the whole cake again. I also added a bit more blue food colouring to my remaining icing so I could have a contrast for my little detailing around the perimeter of the cake.

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I am a frugalista in some ways. I think I get that from my momma. For as long as I can remember, my mom has saved her milk bags and found a number of uses for them. It may seem silly, but I now do the same. One of their many uses….a piping bag for icing.

I bought a four pack of icing tips from the dollar store but don’t see a point in buying piping bags, so instead I use milk bags. Simply cut the corner and insert whatever icing tip you want and pipe away!

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I piped around the top and the base of the cake with the darker blue and my little wee smash-able cake was ready for tiny fingers to dig in!

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It was simple and imperfectly perfect 🙂

My little guy seemed to enjoy it. Here are some shots of him taking care of his cake business. He went to town on this little cake and made the whole experience all I hoped it would be. I also used the little bandana bib I made for him a while back. It looked so cute!

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He was a little uncertain at first but then he began digging in.

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This cake smash was a success and clean-up was a breeze 🙂 I love this little man!!

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Awe, that little face just makes life good, doesn’t it?!

Ciao for now,

Brynna xx