thanksgiving at the kiosk!

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it’s that time of year again! oh man i love it. autumn leaves, a crisp chill in the air, pumpkins galore and my favourite holiday: thanksgiving.

since moving to the UK nearly ten years ago, lots of american holidays have slipped out of my yearly rhythm of celebration. but not thanksgiving. in fact, i think thanksgiving has actually become a bigger deal for me since moving to the UK. a few years back i wrote a brits guide to thanksgiving with traditions, recipes and links to craft ideas for the kids just in case any of my english friends wanted an idea of what in the world i was so excited about every autumn. and this year i am so excited to be bringing that blog post to life!

thursday 28th november is thanksgiving day and there will be a big thanksgiving party hosted by myself, my sweet friend faith and the kiosk at russell park happening from 4:30-6pm.

there will be turkey feast paninis, individual traditional side dishes (including sweet potato fluff!), pumpkin pie muffins and a thanksgiving craft table. we will also be holding a thanksgiving fancy dress competition–cowboys, american indians or pilgrims!

if you have ever wondered what thanksgiving is all about or wanted to experience a real thanksgiving meal please come along. it is going to be so much fun!

see you there!

sarah

(the above image is Hank the Turkey via Mermag Blog. Head on over there for the printout and more amazing printables and craft ideas!)

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my favourite real food meal planning resources

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i have written a few times before about how i go about feeding my family healthy food on a budget. it is not an area of strength i can assure you! i would love to get our spending down even more and have realised that in order to do this, i must… succumb… to the dreaded… MEAL PLAN. argh!! i HATE planning and being stuck to plans. to be honest, even last christmas when i made an activity advent calendar, i got mad. in the days leading up to christmas, when my kids were all excited about doing our advent activity, i was actually resenting ‘early december sarah’ who decided that a plan of something we had to do each day was a good idea. on the meyers briggs personality test, i scored 100% in the spontaneity category. this is not my strength folks. but i really want to buy some new autumn clothes and fly my brother over to the uk for christmas, so the food costs must go down.

i have done my research, found many different people who have planned in many different ways and i am now going to share my finds with all of you here, cause i like a good short cut. your welcome.

for the newbie, this back to basics, full detail, menu planning guide from Tsh at Simple Mom is a welcome overview for someone who feels overwhelmed at even the idea of starting to plan a menu.

for the uber organised (or for those months you just don’t have time or want to get out of a meal planning rut), these grain-free meal plans from Cara at Health Home Happy are genius!! i bought one of the autumn season ones and oh my goodness. i love type A people who share all their organisation with the rest of us. if you want 3 meals a day 7 days a week, with grocery lists and reminders included, it is money very well spent.

for excellent variety and kid friendly meals, Katie over at Riddle Love has over a years worth of her weekly, seasonal menu plans with reminders and recipe links. her recipes are consistently easy, delicious and gobbled up by my littles.

and finally, for the mom who loves spontaneity but needs a plan to fill in, i found this meal planning master plan from DaNelle at Weed ‘em and Reap extremely helpful. i can fill in the master plan with whatever spontaneous recipes seem nice to me that week. no rolling plans that never change, but no nights where i don’t know what is happening and spend too much money. honestly, it has been a breath of fresh air for my spontaneous heart. new meat each week new ideas that i can write in as the idea hits me or cross off if the kids don’t like it.

do you guys meal plan? i would love you to share your resources in the comments. let me know how you get on!

sarah

 

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chocolate dipped macaroons: a gaps friendly recipe

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our real food journey is taking another turn and we are now baby stepping towards the full gaps diet. reasons are many but suffice to say we are all feeling better and doing better on it which is the main thing!

some days, as we all know, call for a treat (or 4!) and these gorgeous, chocolate dipped macaroons hit the spot. guilt free, totally healthy and totally delicious!

gaps diet macaroons
7 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
lemon zest
3/4 cup honey
3 cups of coconut

beat the egg whites and salt until fluffy. gently fold in other ingredients. place dollops onto cookie sheet (or in muffin tin) and bake at 250F (130C) for about 50 minutes or until golden brown on top.

whilst the macaroons are cooling, make the chocolate.

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equal parts coconut oil, honey and cocoa powder melted and whisked together.

dip the macaroons into the chocolate and place on some baking paper in the fridge for chocolate to harden. if you want a thicker layer of chocolate, repeat this process again as many times as you like, making sure the previous layer has properly hardened first.

eh voila, perfectly healthy and in my opinion, way better than the sugary version!

sarah

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diy: cross stitch canvas wall art

20130608-130709.jpgthis past weekend we celebrated our sweet daughter’s third birthday. ever since we found out that max was going to be a boy (and would therefore be sharing a room with sam) i started planning and designing rae’s big girl room and felt that her birthday would be a perfect time to bring it all together. it meant i had a good few months during pregnancy to plan and create mood boards, a few months after pregnancy to just get used to our new crazy life, whilst also meaning i could enlist the present buying of the grandparents to help fund some of it. it was the first time i have ever redesigned a room all in one go and i loved the process. i usually like to live in a space and design as i go, making the whole process quite drawn out, but very organic. and yet, planning and preparation of an entire space in one go really does make a huge and immediate impact. it also ended up being cheaper as i adapted and/or reused quite a lot of our own stuff to create some of the looks i had in the mood board instead of making a lot of purchases. i may be converted to a new way of doing things!

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one of the projects i was most excited to tackle in this process was a giant cross stitched canvas. i first saw the idea on pinterest almost a year ago. the pin linked back to a sweet swedish blog (that i have actually since started following as it is so happy and creative!) but for the life of me i could not find the original post that the photo came from so i had no idea how to replicate it. not one to be discouraged once i have an idea in my head, i decided to try and figure it out myself. it was a huge risk (especially considering that i have only cross stitched one other time before) but i could not be more pleased with how it turned out.

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i started out with a 3 x 4 foot canvas, a huge ball of hot pink yarn, wool and yarn needles, a lovely shade of grey paint (admittedly it was a tester pot of emulsion for walls that i had lying around the house, but, mixed with a bit of water it worked a treat) and a very large sheet of grid paper to make the pattern.

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making the pattern was actually a lot easier than i thought. i basically blew up the image on my computer, counted the ‘stitches’ and copied the image onto my grid paper. this would work with any cross stitch pattern you find on the internet and i think there are even apps and websites that you can upload images into that will create cross stitch patterns for you. but you will still need to transfer them to the huge grid paper in order to get the stitches big enough for the canvas.

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the trickiest bit for me was then working out how in the world to get the grid onto the canvas so i could actually stitch it, as it needed to go onto the canvas post-painting but in a way that meant we couldn’t see it once it was all finished. i considered several different options and then it dawned on me to lay the grid on top of the painted canvas and punch holes through the canvas at every point that i needed to make a stitch. to do this i used the needle that i would be stitching with so i knew the holes would be the right size.

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when i was done, i pulled the grid paper away and i had a perfect grid on my canvas for all my stitches. i kept hold of my grid paper and still counted the stitches as i went to make sure i got it all right. i am so glad i did this as i had missed a few holes whilst transferring the pattern.

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from then on it was just a simple counted cross stitch super-sized. it took about five evenings from start to finish and although i find cross stitching to be a bit of a tedious process in and of itself, this project was so much fun as it felt like a massive puzzle to work out and the effect was truly incredible.

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it makes a great, personalised statement piece for her new room and best of all rae loved it. i hope it will be something that she has for a very long time. sarah

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rocking your rental: what have you got to work with?

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once you have worked out whether it is worth it, finding out what you actually have to work with is step two in rocking your rental property design.

it may sound painfully obvious but talking to your landlord is the best place to start. whether you are currently looking or have lived in your rental for over a year. a short conversation to find out what they are happy for you to change or not is essential to personalising your space. i understand that this conversation can be super awkward because you are asking to change something that they, at some point, chose for their house out of their own style and taste, but if you don’t ask you will never know how much or little you have to work with. like our last landlord, you may get carte blanche to do whatever you want on the house as long as you pay for it. or, like our current landlord, you may be able to change some fixtures and fittings as long as you return it to the state you found it in when you move out and repaint within a neutral palate. and although this is the norm for renting, you may have a landlord who literally does not want anything touched. in which case you can take that into consideration when choosing which property to rent, or if you are already renting a home that isn’t to your taste, you can look for another house that will give you a bit more creative freedom. basically, if you know your boundaries, you can start getting creative and having fun within them. if you don’t know, you are stuck before you’ve started.

the same goes for finding/setting your budget. boring and depressing as it may be, finding out what you have to work with financially is vital to your creativity within your space. and remember, limitations are often the catalyst for creativity. who knows, your inability to buy wall hangings for your house may be just what you needed to discover your inner painter! i have certainly found this to be true in my case. i also have friends who have gotten creative with their finances to provide more slack for decorating. one friend collected and fixed up strollers she found on freecycle and sold them on eBay to generate some income while another frequently went through and collected things she do not like in her house, eBaying them to generate money to buy the things she really did like.

but by far and away, the biggest thing you have to work with is your stuff! even if you live in a space that has no flexibility for change AND you do not have the will, capacity or resources to move, you can still love your environment and be creative within it by making sure that you love, or see value in, everything that you own by carefully and consistantly curating your own stuff. the above quote has been my benchmark for curating our things for over a year now. i would love to say that in that year, my whole house has been purged of all un-beautiful, un-practical things, but if, like me, you are on a budget or have live-in little crazy people, it is a journey that requires baby steps. even so, a feeling of simplicity, beauty and purpose is emerging that i so enjoy.

i frequently bin, recycle or eBay items that i have not used in the past six months and i am slowly working my way through each room, swapping (or reworking) larger items that i am not in love with for those that i do love. one example is that we recently replaced the bed we bought on our honeymoon nine years ago with one that is more in line with our current taste and i cannot tell you how much i love my bedroom right now. it was a nearly free swap as i sold our old bed on eBay and found a great deal on our new bed. so simple and easy but intentionally curating our own belongings has brought a huge satisfaction result, without making any alterations to the actual property we live in.

there are thousands of ways you can adapt a photo inspiration or design idea to fit within whatever your rental limitations are, the possibilities are truly endless but in order to start dreaming, creating and working with your space, you’ve gotta know what you are working with. so go have that (potentially) awkward conversation, crunch those numbers and adjust your perspective towards the things you already own and you just might find yourself loving living in your rental.

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happy birthday rae

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three years ago today, this beautiful girl became a part of our family. she was the fulfilment of two major dreams (to have a daughter and to have a natural birth) and she has continued to bless my life everyday since.

she has the most fun, quirky, playful personality of anyone i have ever met. she is winsome and charming and absolutely gorgeous inside and out.
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we celebrated with a simple but lovely party at our local park. the great british weather obliged us and we enjoyed wearing our sundresses, climbing on the jungle gyms and eating lots of strawberries and cake.
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rae had a very specific idea of what her cake should be like. ‘yellow cake, strawberries all over and chocolate on top.’ i had a fun challenge trying to fit that all in with our latest step in the real food journey but i was so pleased with how it turned out. it was a gaps diet friendly vanilla cake made with almond flour (recipe found here, i cannot recommend it highly enough!) with whipped cream and honey frosting-made yellow with 2 tsp of turmeric.

it was delicious and healthy and most importantly my beautiful girl loved it.

thank you everyone for celebrating our stunning daughter with us!

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diy embroidered TOMS

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i love TOMS shoes. they are a great brand and pretty much everything i love about modern philanthropy. stylish, profit making and yet still making a massive difference to those in need. what a way to redeem our consumerism eh?!

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anyway, because of this i swore to never buy a knock-off brand or even to get them second hand. but i also promised my hubby i would try to stick to my budgets so when rae needed a new pair, onto eBay i went. i figure reuse and thrift are just as valuable.

in order to make these navy ‘boys’ TOMS a bit more girly i did some simple embroidery on the sides in pink thread. a heart and her name is what she requested!

it only took about 15 minutes freehand and i am super pleased with how they turned out!

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