Easter Greekcake with Mixed Berry Sauce

Happy Easter weekend to you all!  I get to spend today with family and Sunday with family too, how fortunate I am.

It’s been snowing here a lot in the last few days and that’s got me down but I spent this morning in the kitchen which always lifts my spirits.  I love being in the kitchen, it’s one of my happy places.  Baking is really therapeutic for me but I don’t get to do it that often because no one in our house really likes baking that much so if I bake things, they tend to sit around or WORSE, I eat them all myself!

The past two weeks have been great on my program too, my clothes are starting to fit more loosely and that’s always a welcome feeling.  I finally kicked that flu bug we had going around here and was ready to get outside this week (my personal goal was to get outside for a walk with the Daughters everyday) but unfortunately it’s been cold and snowy and I receded to the house to semi-hibernate again.

My biggest problem with working out is actually starting but now that I’m into it, my workouts are getting much easier.  I used to like my day 1 workout best because it was easiest for me to get through, then I started liking day 1 and day 2 and last week I finally reached the point of “I CAN DO THIS!” with day 1, 2, and 3.  BOOM!

Something else I’ve started back doing again is pottery.  My heart speaks in pottery, I love it so much, and the studio is another one of my happiest places.  I get to go for 3 full hours every week – just me, my hands and pure creative energy.  There’s drop in for another 3 hours a week too so I might go to one of those classes just in case I need to finish a few things up.  I absolutely love it.  It’s been 6 years since I’ve potted anything and I am ecstatic to be back at it.  I could see myself doing this forever… (insert euphoric AAAAAAHHHHHHHH here).  This is a bit of what I’ve been working on.  I threw them all this week minus the lotus plate, I threw that last week and hand-trimmed it this week.

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Pottery is so amazing because you can take everyday items and use them to create amazing works of art; wallpaper, plastic cards, pencils, cheese graters and slicers, scrapbook stamps, sponges, jewelry, screwdrivers…the list is endless.  I found the most amazing rolling pins on Etsy made by Valek Rolling Pins in Warsaw, Poland.  They’re amazing!  I could use them for pottery or baking so they’re multipurpose, I love items like these!  Can you imagine the beautiful platters and bowls you could make with them!?  I’m so excited just thinking about it…

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Soooooo if anyone is looking for a birthday gift for me I do turn 30 this year and an amazing rolling pin (or two!) would be great!

I could have used it today actually, I made an Arizona Lemon Pie with a single serve pie crust (revised from my Grandma’s large pie crust recipe) to take to dinner along with the Greekcake and my pie crust would have been very suave with a pattern punched into it.  That recipe is coming soon, but first, Greekcake.

I’m sure you’re all wondering what Greekcake is by now.  It’s a term I made up!  I think.  Maybe someone else already did but I started calling my cake that this morning so I’ll go with I coined it first.

Instead of making a cheesecake, I made a Greekcake.  As much as I REALLY love it, there’s a few dodgy ingredients in cream cheese (like carrageenan which has been surrounded in controversy lately, you make up your own mind on it) so I tested out a new recipe that excluded the cream cheese and included more Greek yogurt.  Hopefully it tastes as good as the batter did!

It got a bit brown on top and around the sides so I’ll reduce the cooking time below by a few minutes; just be mindful when it’s in the oven.  I made a mixed berry sauce to go along with it too and the crust is made from almond flour and coconut oil so its got lots of good fats in it as well.  I’m excited to taste it tonight.

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Greekcake with Mixed Berry Sauce by the Farmers Wife

Crust
1-1/2 cups almond flour (also known as ground almonds)
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Mix together all ingredients above and press into the bottom of a 9″ springform pan.

Filling
4 eggs
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 TB coconut flour
3 cups full fat greek yogurt, plain

Mix together all ingredients above in a KitchenAid or with hand electric mixer.  Pour overtop of the crust and bake in 350F oven (325F convection) for 35-40 minutes.  Monitor closely near the end.  Remove from oven and refrigerate for 3-4 hours before serving (or overnight).

Mixed Berry Sauce
3 cups mixed berries (I used blueberries, raspberries, frozen cherries and blackberries)
2 TB stevia extract
1 cup water
3 TB cornstarch + 1 TB water

Put all ingredients above (EXCEPT cornstarch and water) in a saucepan and slowly bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly to ensure it doesn’t burn.  Once boiling, mix the cornstarch and water together and add.  Continue stirring for another 4-5 minutes on high and remove from heat.  Let cool.

And last but not least, ENJOY IT!  Happy Easter to you all, enjoy the weekend with your families and loved ones.  All the best, Kim.

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Homemade Tomato Basil Soup and Week 2

This was a rough week for me, we had some sickness run through our house and it seemed to hang on for the the better part of 6 days so working out and eating were not on the top of my to-do list but I’m really proud of myself because I persevered.  I got all my workouts in, was +/- 5 on my macros for 5/7 days (the other two days I was slightly under on my carbs only) AND I got the bonus workout in as well.  BOOM!  I almost threw up three times but I got it done; I’m no quitter.

I heard it’s supposed to be 16C tomorrow as well which is a BIG BONUS because I’m really tired of this wintery coldness.  I’m excited to start doing some workouts outside!

My goal this week was to start weaning myself off my food journal so I know better what the macro nutrient value of all foods are in order to live without entering every meal I eat.  I’m one step closer to that goal as well, in a few weeks I’ll have this mastered!  My goal for the coming week is to practice up some yoga on my off-workout nights so I can eventually do scorpion pose AND a handstand.  Exciting!

I’m seeing more definition in my arms and legs for sure and a pair of jeans that I almost had to pour myself into a few weeks ago went on really well this morning.  BEST.  FEELING.  EVER.  If only prepping our taxes were this easy…

Because I wasn’t feeling that great this week, I decided to make me some soup.  I bought this basil plant from Costco last week and it smells heavenly.  What better way to get some carbs in than a fresh veggie soup?

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Tomato basil it was!  I used canned tomatoes because I didn’t have any fresh but I can’t wait until summer when all the tomatoes will be ready.

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I started out sauteing the onions and garlic in some coconut oil.

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Then I added the basil.

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It smelled so awesome.  I could have just ate that!  Then I added one can of crushed tomatoes and the water with the beef stock.  Then I let it simmer on the stove for about an hour to let the flavours develop.

I ate it as is once and the next time I ate it I added sour cream and I SWEAR it tasted EXACTLY like the Safeway pre-made version but without all the added junk, win win!

Tomato and Fresh Basil Soup
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed or chopped fine
2 T coconut oil
1 can (14 oz) of crushed tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) of water plus 1 tsp of beef bouillon

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Easter’s coming…I think a festive dessert (possibly LEMON PIE) is in order!  Happy Spring to you all, lets get out in the sunshine!  XO, Kim.

Nan and Pops’ Surprise MEGA-RENO

Anyone that knows me knows that my favourite movie of all time is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  Not only do I recite lines from it at the Christmas dinner table, I recite them in everyday speech all year long.

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This year I watched it three times back-to-back while I baked cookies and dog treats in the kitchen.  If you’ve ever seen the movie then you’d likely recognize Clark and Ellen Griswold’s bedroom – unmistakeable 80’s wallpaper, pink accents, lace curtains, and brass fixtures.

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This is Nan and Pops’ bedroom.  Although it doesn’t belong to the Griswold’s, it’s so similar you’d never know it wasn’t in the movie, the only thing missing are the pink striped bedsheets.

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It had wallpaper, pink accents, brass fixtures and even worse than lace curtains, it had VERTICALS TOO…BLECH.  Finally this year Nan said she was getting someone in to put some paint on instead and THANK THE DECO GODS because I couldn’t take much more of it.

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My parents are the best, the best.  THE.  BEST.  I wanted to show my gratitude for their never-ending generosity by saving them some dollars and doing this re-paint for them so I secretly started planning it all a month before they headed south and started hours after they drove out.

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While I was at it, I figured I might as well gut their closet and add some shoe shelves and a little more space.  How did I do that, you ask?  By knocking out the wall of the linen closet, of course (it’s the corner that juts out of the back of the closet in this picture making the closet an odd shape).

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After the closet went SEE YA! (it’s a good thing I start doing things before I fully think them through or I’d quit everything I think of starting) I had a mild anxiety attack but it subsided by the end of the day 2.  Bedsheets don’t trump shoes in the hierarchy of the closet anyway so I’m glad it’s gone.

The paint, wallpaper, fixtures, switches and plugs I could handle but the redo of the closet I definitely could not.  I hired the Farmer’s cousin’s fiance to help me out and he and his brother did a FANTASTIC  job.  If you need a closet reno, a new kitchen table or a super kickass canoe bookshelf you let me know and I will give you his information.  He doesn’t have a website or a company started up yet (but he will soon!) so you best hire him before he has a six month wait list.

The eldest Daughter was a super big help ripping off the old wallpaper too.  Her and her cousin, Little J, got right in there with me and got their hands dirty.  Kids are always so excited to destroy something, aren’t they?

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This was the easy part though, the backing took me almost 5 days to get off. I used 4L of vinegar, the hottest water I could stand in a kettle, a wallpaper steamer and I emptied out my roundup bottle and filled it with water because spraying water on was so much easier than sponging it on.  If you’re ever removing wallpaper, a spray bottle like this will be your BFF.

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Once the wallpaper was off, I got to start painting and the faster I got to painting, the faster I got to putting the furniture back and rearranging the room which meant FUN WAS COMING!  The main colour of the room is Basketry by Behr  and the closet is Brown Velvet by Valspar.  I also had to try and match up the gold colour in the hallway to repaint where the linen closet was and I got it almost spot on with Pyramid Gold by Behr.

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I’m so lucky Nan and Pops were so far away and there was no danger of them coming home for anything.  Could you imagine coming home to your bedroom SURPRISE looking like this?!  Insert scared, bug-eyed face here!

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Eventually it all came together as it should. Once the paint was on, the plugs and fixtures were changed out and a new ceiling fan went up.

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A fresh coat of paint and a a new shade and this lamp was transformed also.

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The closet shelving was finished and all the drywall put up to seal off the walls that were knocked down.  In the process we had to change the flooring in the closet as well so I chose a vintage looking laminate that resembled barn wood to go with the barn-style doors I built.

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Doors you built, you say?  YES!  I built these doors.  The door on their closet has been long gone forever and I always thought it was sort of silly being there anyway because you had to close it to get at what was behind it inside.  I started thinking a pocket door would be a great idea but that’s a lot of work to put in after the fact and the wall space on either side of the closet door wasn’t wide enough to house one pocket door, it would need to have two.  My idea was to build two sliding style barn doors that would meet in the center and close off the closet.

I bought 6 cedar decking boards, some PL400, garage door hardware, a sliding barn door track from my local farm store, a can of metallic black spray paint and I got to work.  The mitre saw and palm sander the Farmer gave me for Christmas came in super handy for my project too!

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I glued the boards together (three to a side) and secured them with ratchet straps overnight to make sure the glue would set.  While it was drying, I spray painted the track in a hammered metallic black. The next day, I sanded down the boards and any excess glue that seeped out and then I hand stained them with a rag.  I used Minwax Jacobean stain and 2 coats of wipe on polyurethane after letting the stain dry for 24 hours.  My very kind brother-in-law hung them for me and once they were up, I taped it off and painted the extra brackets also.

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 They turned out great, I was so pleased with the way it looked and just had to home Nan and Pops would be too.  Pops is really into antiques and vintage things like I am but the Nan likes more classic decor so I was a little worried about her.  As it turns out, they were both blown away and loved them as much as I did.

Next step was to refill the closet.  Everything went back in quite beautifully however, there will be some trips to Goodwill after I help Nan do a good closet purge.

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Now there was nothing left to do but start redecorating!  I ordered new grommet panels for the windows and a new duvet cover set for the bed from Amazon, vinyl wall art (and iron-on pillow art!) from WordPlay Designs and picked up two magnet boards from Ikea then went scavenging around the house and stole an area rug, a chair and ottoman, plants, vases, bookends and photographs and their whole room came together beautifully.

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It turned out amazing.  AH-MAZE-ING.  Every time I went over to check on the house while they were away I would go up there and sit for a few minutes because it was so relaxing to me; I loved being there surrounded by so many things they loved.  The only thing left for me to do was keep my cakehole zipped up until they got home!  I sat on it very well but the hardest part was actually keeping the Daughters’ from telling them about it on the phone.  Kids love leaking secrets as much as they love destroying wallpaper…

FINALLY on Wednesday night at 8:00pm they came home.  They showed up to our house first and not even 16 seconds after I finished telling the Daughters’ not to say anything and that we would go over to their house to show them the surprise, they blurted out “WE HAVE A SURPRISE FOR YOU!!!”  So off we went to their house.

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And they fell in love with their new room too.  THE END.  Almost.

Now, I am the QUEEN of surprises and I challenge anyone to surprise me like I can surprise you (but don’t rip my house apart because I love it mmmmkkkkay?!) but that’s not the end of the story.  Last night, Nan and Pops offered to take the Daughters for a sleepover so the Farmer and I went out for supper with the SIL and BIL.  When we came home, I saw this in the entryway:

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I immediately think to myself “hmmm, that’s a weird place for a piece of plastic, where did that come from?  Why would the Farmer have left it right there?  Silly Farmer, that’s dangerous.”  So I walk over and pick it up and I turn around to see this on my wall:

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Shit.  You got me.  It’s the most beautiful mirror MADE by Nan and Pops’ Arizona neighbour.  He collects old cowboy boots in his travels and takes them apart to make these treasures.  Him and his wife are wonderful and I love them dearly (like I love all their neighbours).  They told Nan and Pops they wanted us to have one because we showed such an interest when we were down there.  They’re the sweetest couple on the planet to give us this and I am so grateful to know them; my life is truly blessed.

I hope you enjoyed and are inspired by the DIY transformation.  The End (for real).  Kim.