This is one blog post I have been wanting to write for a very long time. Iceland is amazing. Period. If you haven't been, please put it on your bucket list! Not only are the people amazing (hello fellow Scandinavian kids!!), but the history is phenomenal, and the rugged terrain is absolutely stunning.
We were lucky enough to finish off our European honeymoon with five days in Iceland and it was the most perfect way to end our trip! I want to help you out with some quick do's and dont's for traveling in Iceland.
DO: Fly Icelandair.
No, this is not sponsored (although, I'm down if they are!), and I hate flying, but this was the best flying experience I have ever had. I've always considered Canadian airlines to be super friendly, but Icelandair had them beat hands down! The flight crew was wonderful and the coach seats were super comfortable! They've since added the Saga Class and I'm hoping to try that out when we head back to Iceland! BONUS POINTS: Gave us really nice earphones and great Icelandic water. Carry-on, checked luggage, and refreshments were all INCLUDED in the price we paid. Halle-freaking-lujah!
DO: Rent a vehicle rated for the highlands.
You've landed in Keflavik. Now what? You can take a car service, bus, or rent a vehicle to get yourself around in Iceland. My recommendation is to rent a car, but make sure you get a 4X4 rated for the highlands! Doing this allows you to save time, and money, by being your own tour guides! Not only did we find the bus trips expensive, but I do not people well, so being stuck on a bus with 60 other people is pretty much my own personal hell. We were able to travel, at our pace, and see all the beautiful sites that Iceland has to offer. Definitely recommend seeing Thingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Godafoss waterfall!
DO: Go to the Blue Lagoon
You just have to. It's like someone combined a warm hug, a hot bath, and an Antivan all in to one. That's how good the Blue Lagoon will make you feel. Depending on the time you pick, it's going to run you around 12,000 ISK (~$130CAN) per person but includes your entrance, a drink, your first mud mask, and access to the saunas and steam bath.
DO: Take the time to discover downtown Reykjavik and Old Harbour!
Not only are there tons of amazing shops to explore, but the arts scene is amazing! There are lots of museums. From Icelandic Punk and Maritime museums, to penis' and whale museums, there really is something for everyone! Also, if you happen to be in the area over the weekend, make a stop at Kolaportid Flea Market in Old Harbour! Not only can you score beautiful Icelandic sweaters there, but you will get them at about 1/3 of the price! If food is priority for you, I highly recommend the Laundromat Cafe! The food was great and the atmosphere was cozy! Also, try the hot dogs. Don't ask what's on them, or what's in them, just try them. They are delicious and the best place to get them is at a harbourside stand called Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur! Bring cash and be prepared to stand in the always-present line. I promise it will be worth it!
DON'T: Go crazy on tours.
Some are definitely worth it. Some, not so much. They are all going to run you about $100/person so choose wisely. They add up quickly! I highly recommend the whale watching. Even though we went in December, it was such a gorgeous ride! Things to skip: Northern Lights Tour Bus. Let me tell you a little story about the Northern Lights Tour Bus. We were on our third day in Iceland, I was sick as a dog, and we just spent the better part of the day whale watching on the north Atlantic. I was cold. I just wanted a very hot, very sulphur-y (their water smells like sulphur sometimes) shower and my bed. But my husband had never witnessed the northern lights. And we ended up with tickets for that evening and the bus left at 9PM. Now northern lights are no screaming hell for me. I grew up in northern Canada and they happened ALL. THE. TIME. They are pretty but honestly mean jack shit because I've seen them dancing in the sky since as long as I can remember. So, in a true testament of my love for my new husband, I agree to two things: 1) I'm going to people. With lots of people. In an enclosed bus. While I'm sick. and 2) I'm dragging myself away from my shower/bed at 9PM! For reals, I'm an 80 year old woman when it comes to bed time. I'm an early riser, do not mess with bed time! So yah. Love husband. So we load onto this bus, and I keep mentioning to my husband that it's cloudy. We're not going to see anything when it's cloudy. We start out and we head off to our first destination. Guess what? It's still cloudy. No northern lights. Second stop. Oh look, still cloudy. No northern lights. This continues on, and each time this lovely Icelandic tour guide optimistically tells us "sometimes they shine so bright you can see them through the clouds". At 1AM, I finally look at my husband and I tell him she's full of shit. You can't see diddly squat through the clouds and that they've been blowing smoke this whole freaking trip! Finally, we get back to our condo and laugh about how ridiculous the whole evening was. On a happier note, because we rented said 4X4 mentioned above, we detoured from Keflavik the next night after dinner and he was able to see a beautiful display of northern lights. Also, it was a clear night. (One last time for those in the back: Don't look for northern lights when it's cloudy!)
DON'T: Forget your coat.
Even in the summer months, Iceland is on the cooler side! When we went in December, it was a balmy 1 degree celsius! For Canadians, that's money. For Texans, they might want to die without a sweater. Dress accordingly and always check the weather for where you are going! My personal favourites were my Varma Icelandic sweater with an Under Armour base layer and a down puffer vest. These three things got me through 99% of our hiking and exploring! In regards to footwear, I would recommend a good hiking boot, and definitely something that is waterproof. To be 100% honest, I wore my Manitobah Mukluks and a pair of wool socks through all of it. They were warm and super comfortable.
DON'T: Be an early bird.
I'm an early bird. I was up, showered, and ready to roll by 8AM. Things do not open at 8AM. They open at like 11AM. Always check the opening times for the sites you're looking to see!
DON'T: Break the rules
This seems like an easy one but simple things like speeding can come with a hefty fine. Driving off-road where you're not supposed comes with an even heftier fine, and is crazy dangerous. Don't swim or hike where you're not supposed to. Don't go off the beaten path. It is the Land of Fire and Ice for a reason. The puddles literally boil. Don't be stupid.
DON'T: Walk into the piggy grocery store thinking you know what's what.
Unless you speak/read Icelandic. I guarantee that you do not know what's what in a Reykjavik grocery store. There's a lot of delicious food in Iceland. There's also a lot of really weird stuff. Like fermented shark. and whale meat. And mystery meat that was mixed into a hash that we bought at said piggy grocery store. See, we rented a condo. We liked the idea of having more of our own living space and we ended up getting a place that was a two minute walk from the harbour. It was phenomenal! But, we decided that since there was a stove and all the cooking supplies, that we could cook some of our meals at home. Just. Don't.
You're going to feel like a rockstar driving up to the Bonus grocery store (piggy store). You're going to think it's a healthier choice than eating out. Again, just don't. We went to Bonus, and we bought some coffee cream (it was buttermilk, or liquid yogurt, definitely not cream), we bought some breakfast hash (with onions and what we thought was bacon, definitely not bacon), and we bought some meat (thought it was beef, definitely not beef). I will rarely say this, but just eat out.
DON'T: Ask where the nearest McDonald's is.
They don't have them. They have Subway. We may or may not know this after the mystery meat incident.
And last but not least,
DON'T: Miss out!
Traveling to Iceland was one of the best trips I've been on. I’ve barely touched on all the amazing things to see and do in this country, but the land and culture are completely gorgeous, and totally worth the trip! You’re going to love it!
Well, I did not plan on sharing this recipe. I shared the photos of it and was overwhelmed by DM’s asking for the recipe. To be honest, this is just one of those “throw together” recipes I do when I’m busy and exhausted. It requires very little effort but it is comforting and delicious!
In this recipe, I use fresh brussel sprouts, but you can totally use frozen. Just make sure to drain them on some paper towel. That will keep the casserole from getting runny. Also, one other note to make. I used grass-fed beef in this recipe, which is very lean. If you are using regular ground beef, you’d probably want to drain off some of the fat. That being said, let’s get into the nitty gritty of it.
1 lb ground beef (grass-fed organic if you’ve got it!)
1 lb fresh brussel sprouts (peeled and halved)
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (sometimes I cheat and use store-bought bacon bits. I really like the Greefield ones from Costco...about 1/3 cup).
2 eggs, whisked
1/3 cup coconut milk or heavy whip
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I use a combination of parm and old cheddar usually).
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Place peeled, trimmed, brussel sprouts halves into a glass, microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave for 4-5 minutes. They should be tender crisp. Drain and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 400F.
3. Sauté onion in 1 tbsp olive oil until translucent. Add in ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add in garlic and bacon.
4. Remove from heat and season beef mixture with salt and pepper.
5. Grease a 9x13” casserole dish with olive oil or butter. Dump in beef mixture then add in the brussel sprout halves.
6. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, the heavy whipping cream/coconut milk, and 1/2 cup of the cheese.
7. Pour the egg mixture over the beef and brussel sprout mixture, and toss to coat.
8. Top with remaining cheese and bake until bubbly (about 30 minutes)!
Hey all! I feel like I have been writing this post forever but have yet to hit publish. This is the story of one of the biggest renos we have completed in our house. This is the main wall in our living room. It originally looked like this.
*cue sad "loser" horn* It was less than impressive and we knew when we bought the house that we would be doing something to this space. We originally planned to put in just a fireplace. A gas one. Which posed a bit of a problem since we dont have gas run to our property. Between the gas company wanting to tear up our front yard, and the gas-fitter wanting an arm and a leg, we decided to go for a built-in electrical fireplace. The hubs and I went back to the drawing board...literally.
One night, as he napped, I drew out what I wanted. Thankfully, the hubs and I are super handy (and I'm lucky to have super handy parents nearby!) that we were able to take this drawing,
and turn it into a reality! In my next post, I will get into the how-tos of building your very own custom built-ins (ikea hacks & Youtube videos!!) but for now, I will leave you with these beautiful finished photos. What kind of renos have you always wanted to do?! Feel free to share your design dreams in the comments!!
Hey all! No, I'm not about to discuss porcine massage techniques will you but I am going to let you in on an inside joke in our house.
The hubs has always said I should sell my spices/sauces/dressings and it has always been something we joked about. We even got to the point where we declared his favourite BBQ rub (this one) the Angry Oinker. It's sweet, with a bit of heat, and it is amazing on pork (ahem: everything!). Plus, it's made with simple ingredients that most of us have stuffed into our pantries! Give it a shot and let me know what you think!!
1/2 cup organic sugar (I used cane, but have used coconut sugar as well)
2 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp mustard powder
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp crushed chile flakes
1/8 tsp cinnamon (can omit but just gives an amazing hint of sweetness to the BBQ'd meat!)
1. Measure all spices into a bowl and whisk together to thoroughly combine.
2. Get rubbing....on a butt....a big butt....a pork butt! (Obviously, ya weirdos!).
Holy hell guys, I finally got my poop in a group and the very first home post is happening. I'm disappointed that it took me so long but pretty darn happy that it's finally coming to fruition!
So y'all know that good food is a priority in our house but, I'm a huge DIYer as well! This file cabinet was one of my first projects in our new home.
It all started out with a ratty, old file cabinet that my mom let me have (Mad props to my folks for schlepping this beast down from Northern MB! They're just the best!) I kept seeing cool file cabinet paint jobs on upcycling websites and figured, "I can do that!" The design I chose was basic and pretty handy. I chose to do a basic border with the majority of the file cabinet being chalkboard. That's right folks, you can scribble all over this thing and then wipe it right off and that's a total win in my books! So, how to do it yourself...
First, find yourself an old file cabinet. As mentioned above, I scored this bad boy from my parents. You can also find old file cabinets on Kijiji/Craiglist/Facebook or in thrift stores and they are relatively cheap (or free... I like free!)
Second, pick out your spray paint. You'll need two different colours. I chose the monochromatic look to match the rest of my office but this would be super pretty in coordinating pastels, or even with a metallic accent (BRAINWAVE! - How pretty would rose gold and blush or navy be? If you do it, please comment with a photo!) There are TONS of colours out there, choose what you like! Only rules are, the first paint (The border colour, in my case, white) needs to be a paint + primer. It will help give a good base for the second coat and will help seal any exposed metal. I used this stuff as my base coat.
There are lots of coloured chalkboard paints now, I just didn't have the patience to use a roller. Spray painting is so much easier! You're welcome to give it a shot and see how it turns out but I can't give any tips on that application! This spray paint is so easy to use and goes on really well! I highly recommend!
So, now that you have your file cabinet and your paint, let's gather all your supplies together and get this started!
You will need:
1 file cabinet (duh!)
4 cans of primer paint (first coat - border colour)
4 cans of chalkboard paint (or top colour)
2 plastic drop cloths
220 grit sand paper
1 1/2" painters tape
1. Start by removing the drawers from the file cabinet, removing any hardware(knobs/label holders) and giving the whole shebang a light sanding. Don't forget your mask! Once sanded, wipe down the cabinet and drawers with a damp, lint-free cloth.
2. Working in a well-ventilated area, place your drop cloths down, and arrange your drawers/cabinet so that you can easily access all sides. Shake your spray paint up, according to the directions on the can, and test out the spray (and your technique) on some scrap metal/wood. When spray painting it is best to hold the can 6-8 inches away from the cabinet/drawer, use an even side to side motion, and overlap your spray pattern by at least a 1/3. When coming to an edge, always spray past the edge instead of stopping. This will ensure an even coat and minimize runs. **BIG TIP** It is better to do multiply light coats of paint, than try to sand out drips later.
3. Spray all drawers and cabinet with the paint+primer border colour. For me, this took two coats of spray paint. I let this cure over night.
4. Using your painters tape (you can choose any width you like) tape off a pattern that works for you. I chose a simple border pattern, but you could get really fancy and trying a herringbone or even bust out some stencils. Since mine was also a chalkboard, I wanted maximum writing space, so the border worked fine.
5. Once taped, you can start spraying with your top coat. (Don't forget your mask and drop cloth!) Following the same technique, spray thin, even coats until you have a beautiful matte finish. Allow to dry, remove tape, and "season" (if using chalkboard).
Now go forth and make all the file cabinets in your life beautiful! So easy! You're going to love it!
Yes, I know I have been MIA. If you follow my IG account you know that my absence was based on our life blowing up. We spent most of November renovating our home (our built-in how-to will be up on the home side of this page briefly!). December we were devastated by the loss of our female Newfoundland. She was my baby girl and sort of shut down for a bit....to the point my husband was worried about me. Things are getting better each day but I still can't talk (or think) about her without crying. Annnd.... well lately we have been up to our eyeballs with our newest addition. We now have a new Newfoundland pup. She's a wonderful and exhausting addition! Well that's enough of the updates, we need to talk about these delicious little morsels.
These little kisses can be two things. If you take them out at 90 minutes, they are crisp on the outside with mashmalllow-y inside. If you leave them in for 120 minutes they become like sponge toffee...crisp and melt in your mouth!
I love to serve the softer version with fresh berries and a dollop of fresh cream. The crunchy version is delightful when the bottoms are dipped in dark (or bittersweet) chocolate. To be honest, my husband just pops them in his mouth like candies, so you don't have to get all fancy with them!
Well, let's get these started!!
3 egg whites
3/4 cup coconut sugar (I recommend running this through a food processor. The smaller granules will incorporate easier into your egg whites.)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 tsp white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 200F
2. Whip egg whites until soft peaks form.
3. While beater is running slowly incorporate the sugar. Add 1 tbsp at a time and beat well after each addition!
4. Once you've achieved stiff peaks, add in vanilla, salt, and vinegar. Continue beating until sugar granules are dissolved and egg whites appear glossy.
5. Place egg white mixture into a piping bag with tip of choice (or just cut the corner if you're not too concerned with "perfection").
6. Pipe kisses out on to a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in oven for 90-120 minutes.
7. Once done, store in an airtight container in the fridge! Enjoy!
these little babies are pretty self explanatory. They are delicious and free of all the nasty stuff that Reese contains! These little guys are dairy-free and my version is also nut-free!
They have only three ingredients and take barely any time to make so let's get started!!
2 cups Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks
2 tbsp coconut oil
3/4 cup nut butter of your choice. (I use Sunbutter but almond or cashew butter would be amazing in these!)
1. Combine chocolate chunks as coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second burst, stirring in between. Once all melted, set aside.
2. Line small baking sheet with 12 mini cupcake liners. I like silicone ones but the aluminum ones work as well!
3. Pour 1 tbsp of coconut mixture into each cupcake liner and swirl the chocolate so that it goes up the sides of the liner. This will form your cup. Once completed, place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
4. Remove cups from freezer and place 1 tbsp of nut butter in each cup. Dip your fingers in water and pat the nut butter down flat.
5. Top each cup with another tbsp of the chocolate mixture. You may need to spread it around to cover the nut butter.
6. Place in freezer for another 5-10 minutes. Remove from liners and enjoy!!
*These are best stored in the refrigerator!
AHHH! It's my favourite time of year! It's cool, but not cold. There's a earthy smell in the air and ALL of my sweaters are about to be dug out of the closet! Fall is here, yo!
My condolences to all my summer-loving friends, but Fall is just the tits. My dogs are happy and loving life. We sleep like champs and my air conditioner is getting a much needed rest after the gross summer we just had. Plus, there's hushed whispers about the holiday season. We would never act on anything before Remembrance Day (hubby is actively serving), but you bet your ass Christmas talks have already gone on! (Pluuuuuus, I totally just bought a big ass Christmas tree online because, since moving to this house and the mega-high ceilings, our little 7.5 footer just isn't cutting it)
So yah... Coles notes version of this: I love Fall (and Christmas) and it's time to usher in all things Fall. Like soup! I know I posted my vegetable soup recipe last week and it's a gooder, but who doesn't like Italian Wedding Soup. I mean, my Trenton mil spouses know ALL about East Side Mario's and the unlimited soup and salad racket they've got going on. Frick it's good. But the pasta kills me. So me, being me, said "nuts to that" and made it Paleo. And better Annnnnd just plain awesome!
Now, I'm sure my version is a bastardized one, at best. Because any Italian reading this would probably lose their mind at the fact that I eliminated the pasta. But the flavour is bang on, and my little shreds of sweet potato ended up cooking down and are little round flecks that look just like the tiny pasta. Totally planned it that way (not so much, but a happy surprise!).
So let's get this soup started!
1/2lb ground pork
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper.
1. Mix together in a medium sized bowl.
2. Measure out 2 tsp portions and roll into mini meatballs.
3. Set aside until soup is boiling.
1 onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 small sweet potato, shredded
1/4 cup avocado/olive oil
4 cups of chopped fresh kale (or spinach! If you are using frozen, I would cut this in half as it will have already been blanched before freezing)
8 cups chicken stock (bone stock is better!)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
sea salt, to taste
1. Add oil and onions to a large soup/stock pot and saute over medium for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add in garlic, carrots, and celery and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Add in spices, kale and chicken stock.
3. Increase heat to medium-high, add in shredded sweet potato and bring the whole pot to a boil.
4. Once boiling, start to gently stir your pot of soup. While stirring, drop in your mini meatballs.
5. Once all the meatballs, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
6. After the 30 minutes, season with salt (to your taste!!), and enjoy!!
Have you ever had coconut yogurt?? I'm going to go out there and say that store bought may be the most heinous thing I have ever seen. It's grey and gelatinous and just so disgusting!
But homemade. Omg people. It's friggin delicious. And easy peasy! I'm keeping things simple. I've seen a lot of recipe adding agar agar or arrowroot powder. Just don't. Let's ditch the added starches and go for full flavour!
I use the coconut cream from the top of the can. Save the water for smoothies. You can use the whole can but your yogurt is going to end up more like the consistency of kefir. Not what I was after. I want thick, creamy, deliciousness!!
For all intents and purposes, your oven/oven light are going to play the role of an incubator for all those amazing probiotics. We will slightly warm your coconut milk, whisk in your probiotic capsules, and add to sterilized jars! Pop it in the oven and forget about it over night!!
Super easy. Try it out!!
2 cans organic coconut milk, thick cream on top only (reserve the water for smoothies etc)
1 tsp maple strup
2 probiotic capsules, contents only (ditch the capsules!)
1. Turn your oven on to 200F. Leave it for five minutes and then turn it off. We are just preheating to take the chill off. After this, the oven light will be enough heat to maintain a happy growing environment for the probiotics!
2. Add coconut cream and maple syrup to a saucepan. We are going to gently heat over medium-low for a couple minutes. Whisk to combine and remove from heat.
3. Let the coconut cream mixture cool until it is below 100F (~40C- think a little warmer than body temperature).
4. Whisk in the contents of your two probiotic capsules.
5. Transfer this mixture into a pint size sterilized glass jar. (To sterilize the jar you can run it through the dishwasher, pour boiling water into and let it sit for a few minutes, or boil the jars in water.
6. Pop the kid on the jar and place into the oven. Turn on the oven light ONLY! We don't need anymore heat.
7. Leave for 10-12 hours, or up to 24. The longer your leave it, the more tangy it will be. I leave mine for ~ 12 hours.
8. Remove from oven and place into refrigerator. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours and then use as you would any yogurt! I topped mine with cherries and blueberries! So yummy!!
Note: Your yogurt may separate a bit, just stir it up!
Shut the front door, people!! I'm a goddamn Paleo Wizard! These brownies are ridiculously amazing. They are chewy and fudgy and I'm pretty sure they'd be classified as a sin. Not only will these satisfy everyone's sweet tooth, but they will fool even the biggest Paleo skeptics.
On top of all of that, they are ridiculously easy to make!! Give them a try! You'll love them!
2/3 cup coconut oil
1 bag Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 cup of maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit.
2. Add coconut oil, coconut sugar, and maple syrup to a large saucepan. Heat over medium until sugar is dissolved.
3. Turn heat off and add in the chocolate chunks. Stir to melt/combine.
4. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
5. Sift cocoa, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl.
6. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled for ten minutes, grab a spatula and start adding your eggs. Beat in each egg thoroughly before adding the next.
7. Once eggs are incorporated, add in your dry ingredients and stir until combined thoroughly.
8. Pour batter into a parchment-lined 9X13 pan and smooth top. Feel free to sprinkle the top with more chocolate chunks/pecan pieces/walnuts!!
9. Bake for 40-50 minutes until cooked through.
10. Let cool for 20 minutes, and then place in fridge to cool for an hour. Slice and enjoy!!