Ways to Refresh for Spring

It’s the that time of year where we all get the itch to press restart. You know, the second attempt after the new year (no judgment here!). With organization and decluttering on our minds (thanks to the lovely Marie Kondo), I thought what better time to share my tips for ways to refresh and renew your home for spring!


Refresh

The first thing I do when getting my home spring ready is swap out all the winter themed scents. The apple pie and bonfire candles get stored away for next year, and out come the floral and fresh linen scents that make us feel like warm weather is near.  This year, I’m trying something new and opting out of using candles. Instead I’m using high quality diffusers. My absolute favourite - West Coast by Vancouver Candle Co.  

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Add some greenery! Did you know some indoor house plants can actually improve the air quality in your home? Plants like the split leaf Monstera (philodendron family) actually do more than just look pretty. They are always working to actually detoxify the air in your home.

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One of my favourite parts about getting my home spring ready is stripping all the linens, slip covers, and curtains, and taking them for dry cleaning. It’s like jumping into fresh hotel bed sheets the first night you check in. I mean, is there anything more satisfying?


Declutter

I’m a firm believer that everything needs to have a place in your home. It keeps not only your home tidy and organized but also helps to keep your mind clear too. I didn’t realize until moving that I had A LOT of stuff. I was definitely guilty of the “one day I’ll use it” saying. Since then, I make it a habit to go through our things every season and donate, toss, or recycle any items we are not using. The best method I have found for this is taking everything out of its spot and going through the items one by one. Deciding what you use most and what has really just been collecting dust. Whether it be the kitchen cabinets, your makeup drawer, or your closet.

When going through your makeup and toiletries, keep in mind expiry dates, brushes and tools that are worn out, as well as products you may not have liked but have been holding on to. For clothing, part with items that are ill-fitting and/or worn out, in addition to items you never seem to wear.


Organize

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Once you have decluttered, the fun really begins. But before you go out and buy a ton of dividers and containers, measure your spaces first!  Measure drawer openings and cupboard heights to make sure you maximize your storage potential.  My favourite places to shop for storage solutions are Ikea, the dollar store, Home Sense, and Amazon. For food storage solutions, Williams Food Equipment and Gourmet Warehouse

Do you have any refresh rituals? Share them along with what you’re doing to refresh and renew your home this spring by tagging @ohsomona

Valentines Day Party

As seen in The Drive Magazine

I always jump at any excuse to throw a party for my girlfriends and this Valentine’s Day is no exception. I gathered all the sweets, all pink & red décor I could find, and whipped up some super easy appetizers that are sure to be crowd pleasers. I am sharing these quick Mediterranean style recipes with you, plus some tips on putting together your own Galentine’s Day party!

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Décor for a themed party is key. Luckily, Valentines Day is all about the sweets and pink hues when it comes to decor which makes things super fun and simple to put together. For this party’s table top décor, I started off with a pink and gold table cloth I picked up at Home Sense. However, you could totally use any pink hue or neutral for the table cloth as it will mainly act as your base. Then you can play around with colour in other aspects like the charger plates and accent pieces. Before I decided on good old pink, I was actually playing around with a pale blue colour that was to die for!

For the serving pieces, I used some old small vases I had on hand to store the pink and red candy I had grabbed from Bulk Barn, as well as the odd ice cream bowl to hold additional candy. What I like to keep in mind while setting the spread for the table is “layers”. I love to create a 3 dimensional look using different heights of serving ware. To continue with this method, I also added a small cake stand for the cookies and left the remaining appetizers to be on flat plates, lowest on the table.

Next, I added some fun Valentine’s craft supplies I had lying around which included some red, pink and white pompoms (just from the dollar store), heart shaped balloons from Canadian small business Joonie + Joe, as well as the “BE MINE” mini banner that I found at Home Sense. I love using these items to fill in the empty spaces on the table between the serving ware to give it that overflowing look.

Lastly, I finished by adding my charger plates, dinner plates, napkins, cutlery, and glassware. This part is pretty standard, but I want to add that you shouldn’t stress if you don’t have any Valentine’s serving ware. I didn’t either! I used basic off white charger plates and some gold accented napkins that I thought matched the table nicely. Where you can tie in the Valentine’s theme is what you decide to use for the plated favours. I decided on note cards, but you could always use name cards or mini candy favours or anything else you can dream up. The options are truly endless.

Next is the FOOD! You can find some easy and quick recipes below :


Hummus Dip

What you will need:

·      2 cans chickpeas

·      ½ cup tahini

·      ½ cup lemon juice

·      2 tbsp olive oil

·      4 tbsp water

·      Salt to taste

·      2 cloves garlic (optional)

Directions:

1.     Begin by boiling the chickpeas in a pot of water for 45min.  Once they are finished boiling, strain the chickpeas and rinse.  As you are rinsing the chickpeas, massage them with your fingers to help break the skins away from the peas.  Removing these skins will help to make the finished hummus extra smooth.  Once you have rinsed the chickpeas, fill the pot with water just enough so the skins float to the top. This makes the removal much easier.

2.     Next, transfer the chickpeas to a food processor with the blade attachment in place.  Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and blend until smooth.  If you are adding garlic, you will need to crush the garlic before adding it to the processor.

3.     Time to plate! The great thing about hummus is how versatile it is. You can go the traditional route by topping it with olive oil and garnishing with a small amount of paprika or get creative with it!

Bocconcini Cheese & Basil

Makes 15 pieces

 What you will need:

·      5 regular sized Bocconcini cheese rounds

·      2 Fresh tomatoes (I like Roma for this recipe)

·      10-15 leaves Fresh basil leaves

·      1 tbsp Olive oil

·      Pinch of Salt and pepper

·      French Baguette

Directions:

1.     Begin by slicing the tomatoes and bocconcini about ¾ cm in thickness, then the baguette about 1cm in thickness.  Cut the bread on a slight angle to create more elongated pieces.

2.     Layout the bread on a plate, then, place the slices of bocconcini and tomatoes on top in that order. One piece of each per slice of bread. Next, sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over the tomatoes and place a basil leaf on top of each.

3.     Once you are ready to serve, drizzle olive oil across the leaves and your done!

Zaatar Pita Pies

Makes 6 pieces

 What you will need:

·      6 mini pitas or mini naan bread

·      ½ cup zaatar blend

·      1/3 cup olive oil

 Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

  2. Take a small bowl and combine the zaatar and olive oil to make a smooth paste like consistency. Then, take your pitas and spread enough zaatar to cover the centre, leaving a thin crust around the edges.

  3. Add the finished pitas to a baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes or until they just start to brown.

  4. Enjoy these pitas with chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, or use them alongside hummus dip!

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I hope you found this guide to throwing your own Valentine’s Day party helpful! I would love to hear any party tips or recipes you swear by. Let me know in the comments below :).

Happy Planning!

-Mona

Holiday Gingerbread Cookies

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As seen in The Drive Magazine

I absolutely love Gingerbread Cookies around this time of year. They bring up nostalgic memories as soon as you take your first bite. My own memory was growing up in my parents’ bakery, constantly stealing the smartie buttons and then quickly hiding away to enjoy them before anyone noticed! Looking back, I’m sure they were on to me. It was one of many great memories from my childhood that I can’t help but celebrate every holiday season, and It makes me so happy to be sharing my recipe with you.

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To start you will need:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour

  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 2 tsp ground ginger

  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)

  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses

  • 1 large egg

  • sprinkles and royal icing for decorating

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground nutmeg; set aside. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until well combined and smooth. Add in your molasses and egg.

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With the mixer on low speed, add your flour mixture; mix just until a dough forms. Place dough on floured plastic wrap and pat into a square. Be sure it is wrapped well. If the flour is preventing the plastic wrap from sticking, add a second layer. Once your dough is wrapped, place it in the fridge for 1.5 hours

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Then divide your dough into two pieces. This way one is continuing to chill while you work with the other. The firmer the dough, the easier it will be to work with.

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Roll out your first half of dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured work surface. Begin to cut your gingerbread shapes with your chosen cookie cutter. I used a 5-inch gingerbread man cookie cutter and was able to get a dozen cookies. You can use any cookie cutter you prefer, just keep in mind if it is smaller to decrease your cooking time, likewise if the cookie is larger.

Carefully lift your cut cookie shapes and place them 1 inch apart on lined baking sheets, then place in the freezer for 20 min. Repeat, with your second refrigerated piece of dough.

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Bake for 8 minutes or until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack. Once your cookies have completely cooled, you can begin to decorate! You can also store them in an airtight container for up to 5 days if you choose to decorate them another day-or have a super awesome cookie decorating party.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. If you have a gingerbread memory, I want to hear about it! Let me know in the comments below :).

Print

Holiday Gingerbread Cookies

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 8 minutes

Chilling Time 1 hour 50 minutes

Total Time 2 hours 18 minutes

Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups Flour

  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda

  • 1/4 tsp Salt

  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

  • 2 tsp Ground Ginger

  • 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg

  • 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter room temperature

  • 1/3 cup Packed Light Brown Sugar

  • 1/3 cup Unsulfured Molasses

  • 1 Large Egg

  • Sprinkles and Icing for Decorating if desired

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground nutmeg; set aside. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until well combined and smooth. Add in your molasses and egg. 

  2. With the mixer on low speed, add your flour mixture; mix just until a dough forms. Place dough on floured plastic wrap and pat into a square. Be sure it is wrapped well.  If the flour is preventing the plastic wrap from sticking, add a second layer. Once your dough is wrapped, place it in the fridge for 1.5 hours

  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Then divide your dough into two pieces.  This way one is continuing to chill while you work with the other. The firmer the dough, the easier it will be to work with.

  4. Roll out your first half of dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured work surface. Begin to cut your gingerbread shapes with your chosen cookie cutter.  I used a 5-inch gingerbread man cookie cutter and was able to get a dozen cookies.  You can use any cookie cutter you prefer, just keep in mind if it is smaller to decrease your cooking time, likewise if the cookie is larger. Carefully lift your cut cookie shapes and place them 1 inch apart on lined baking sheets, then place in the freezer for 20 min.  Repeat, with your second refrigerated piece of dough.

  5. Bake for 8 minutes or until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack. Once your cookies have completely cooled, you can begin to decorate! You can also store them in an airtight container for up to 5 days if you choose to decorate them another day-or have a super awesome cookie decorating party.