21.9.18

Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon + Slow Cooker or Instapot?

I'll be honest, I struggle with the colder months. I have such a hard time staying warm, no matter how many layers I put on, so to compensate I drink hot tea all.day.long and only cook warm meals (read: I'm not a big salad eater in the winter!). With this comes slow cooker meals at least a couple of times each week, because stews and soups are the best part of winter cooking.


I've been thinking about asking for an Instant Pot for my birthday. It was on my list last Christmas but didn't work out as they were sold out everywhere after Black Friday sales. I do love my slow cooker so much and can't find much fault in it, though the thought of making pulled pork in an hour instead of eight is definitely appealing! I don't mind the slowness of the slow cooker most days because it's often a meal I put together before church on a Sunday morning that's ready when we get home at three o'clock. The hours are certainly longer than an Instant Pot, but it's all hands off time anyway, so who cares?

Right now I feel like it's basically the same as my slow cooker but faster. Tell me how much faster and better it is, ok? I believe it also uses less energy/power which is interesting. And what's your favourite thing to make in the Instant Pot or the slow cooker? For now I'm happy with my slow cooker and last night I made an amazing Boeuf Bourguignon in it. I was inspired by one of my favourite food blogs, Modest Marce, but hers was a stove top version and I wanted to cook mine in a more hands off way so I used my slow cooker. I also tend to find that stove top stewed meat never ends up soft enough for me (read: chewy and sometimes hard instead), but slow cooking never fails me.

credit: Modest Marce

Ingredients:
  • 1 kj of cubed red meat (you can use steak or roast or anything your butcher says is good for stewing. I just use chuck meat or whatevers on sale), cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 5 strips of bacon, diced (small)
  • 5 carrots, chopped (medium)
  • 500 grams of sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 a yellow onion, minced (very small)
  • lots of garlic
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • fresh thyme, salt and pepper
Method:
  1. Start by drying your cubes of meat in paper towel, then sear them on very high heat in a little bit of olive oil, on every side if possible. This should be done quickly, maybe 5 minutes max. Then set in your slow cooker.
  2. Cook bacon on medium to high heat and season with generous pepper (more than you think!), and place in the slow cooker
  3. In the remaining bacon grease, cook your onions, carrots, and garlic for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and add to slow cooker.
  4. To your slow cooker add the wine, broth, tomato paste, and thyme.
  5. Cook on low for 5 hours.
  6. Cook your mushrooms on high heat, browning the outside and seasoning with generous pepper. Add then to the slow cooker for the last hour of cooking.
  7. At six hours, check thickness of your stew. If it's still too watery, add a few tablespoons of corn starch. Taste and season accordingly.
  8. Serve over pappardelle, my favourite noodle! 
This recipe makes a lot - probably 8-10 portions. Brad and I both ate large portions and there are probably 6 or so left, but we could have added a salad and baguette and eaten smaller portions. This is a great meal for a crowd or to put in the slow cooker before leaving for church on a Sunday morning (or any other outing).

Alright Instantpot lovers, convince me!

13.9.18

discount codes galore!

Hi friends! I wanted to draw your attention to my left sidebar where I have discount codes for many of the companies I've been lucky enough to work with this year. I know many of you read this blog on an aggregate reader side like Feedly or Blog Lovin' (I do the same with my blogs!), which means you've never even seen the side bar, hence this post :)

All of the discount codes I have at present I'll include here and I'll be sure to update this post as new ones come along. I hope this is helpful!

Home

Casper 


$75 off at Casper - valid on the purchase of a mattress + any other item.  Here's the link again: http://www.casper.com/friends/EMMORRICE

Maison Tess


10% off Maison Tess bed and home linens. Here's the link:  http://bit.ly/2l3IoV5

Food

Good Food

$40 off your first order of Good Food. Here's the link - https://www.makegoodfood.ca/referred-by/114806

Cook It


50% off your first TWO orders of Cook It. Here's the link: https://www.chefcookit.com/en/ref/EMILYT463

Attire 

Mimi Hammer


15% off Mimi & August and Mimi Hammer - Here's the link: http://i.refs.cc/nJB9YCOU?u=1536874240474

12.9.18

School Lunch Ideas!

With three kids at school full time this year the boxed lunch struggle is real. I have never liked packing lunches (who does!?), which is one of the reasons I love having my kids eat lunch at home twice a week. It's not even that it's so complicated, but it's my least favourite chore! Virtually all schools are nut free now which nixes our favourite cashew-based energy balls and classic pb and j or my kid's prized creation, pb and cream cheese. Does anyone else get into a lunch packing rut and feel like there are no options your kids will actually like? I feel this way at least once a week, haha!


I teamed up with Love Child Organics to challenge myself to create four new lunches, all featuring protein, fresh fruit and veggies, filling snacks, and healthy mains. Want to see what I come up with? See below for my tips to make lunch packing easier and more eco-friendly, too! 

Lunch mains (that aren't sandwiches) you may not have thought of:

  • Meat or cheese tortellini tossed in some olive oil or pesto to stay moist
  • 1-2 hard boiled eggs
  • Charcuterie - turkey breast or salami with your favourite cheese 
  • Pita or tortilla and a filling dip like hummus
  • Cold grain salad - pasta, rice, quinoa, barley with some fresh veg and dressing

Snacks we love:
  • Bite-sized veggies (cherry tomatoes, cut up cucumbers, bell peppers, baby carrots)
  • Sliced apples, peaches, pears, etc. (whole fruits are less interesting and hard for those with loose teeth, but if I slice anything, they'll gobble it up!)
  • Simple baked goods like banana muffins or oatmeal cookies (I bake a big batch and freeze them, putting the frozen treat right in their lunches - by lunch hour it's perfectly thawed)
  • Owlies - these are our all time favourite, and are made with spelt. Even I nibble on them lol!
  • Love Ducks - these are a light puffy snack that have a fun crunch without being unhealthy
  • Oaty Chomps - oat snack bars for when I don't have a simple baked good to offer!
Tips for Eco-friendly, Healthy, and Easier Bagged Lunches:

Our kids eat at home twice a week and I love the ease and pace of cooking a meal together midday. It also means we don't have to bring anything pre-packaged or in zip lock bags or stress about packing the lunches at all! To make your kid's lunches more eco-friendly, simple, and cost effective too, here are a few ideas we've started using since our kids have been in school. 
  • Use washable, reusable lunch containers and lunch bags instead of paper or plastic bags
  • Buy a bunch of silverware at the thrift store for their meals that require a spoon or fork. Of course they'll probably lose several, which is why you don't want to send your family silverware off to school with your kids, but it's a better option than plastic forks that will end up in a landfill!
  • If you send napkins in their lunches, send a cloth one instead to be washed and reused (we don't actually do this because we don't send napkins at all, but I know many parents do)
  • Water bottles to be refilled. We never send juice boxes because our kids only drink juice on special occasions, but will occasionally send a Lil Shake Smoothie if supper will be later than usual or they haven't eaten well as of late. As I've said before, these are awesome for travel!
  • Pack lunches the night before while you're prepping, cooking, or cleaning up from supper. This is the time when my kitchen is already messy, food is coming and going from the fridge, and the cutting board is likely on the counter. For us, it's the best time. Mornings, on the other hand are too rushed and stressful to think of adding that task!
  • Chop a week's worth of veggies and set aside in a big zip lock bag for easy access when you're packing lunches. Fruit doesn't keep when cut so you can't do this as easily, but we tend to pack whole fruits anyway (clementines, bananas, etc).
I hope this was helpful! I can't quite figure out why I hate packing lunches so much (I know I'm not the only one!), but these steps have helped make the task less annoying over the years. I'd love to hear what your kids love in their lunches!

This post was in collaboration with Love Child Organics,
a Canadian company I've supported for years. As always,
all opinions expressed here are 100% my own.
To book a collaboration, please contact me!

5.9.18

Defining My Minimalism

Over on Instagram Stories, where the best conversations happen these days, I decided to share as clear a definition as I could about how I practice minimalism. Minimalism is not a one size fits all practice and so I don't expect my minimalism to be the perfect for your family, but I'll share my definition nonetheless, in hopes that it might inspire or challenge us all towards more intentional living.

credit: Rachel Cheng

I am often asked about how I balance minimalism with children, minimalism as a decor lover, minimalism as a blogger who receives free gifts regularly from companies, and minimalism as someone who enjoys exploring trends. All of these things describe me and can actively work against the goal of minimalism. For our family, it's been a constant tug and pull of what we allow ourselves to buy and keep and what won't bring into our home. As I said before, there isn't one right way to do this, so I hope I'm not coming across as too authoritative on the subject because truly, I'm constantly growing in this area and have by no means arrived as an expert.

Here are five rules I aim to live by and which define my minimalism. These rules help us decide what we keep and what we toss, how we view our belongings, and the heart behind it all. I hope you find them helpful!

1. We follow a strict 1 in 1 out rule.

Every time I receive an item from a company or come home from the thrift store with a bag full of new treasures or go shopping, the same number of items has to go out. Usually it's easy to replace something if it's already broken or no longer fulfilling its potential in our home, but other times we need to get creative if there's something we really want to bring into our home. The kids practice this just as well as I do. They're not immune to having to toss possessions after gift waves like birthdays and Christmas.

2. We aim not to buy (or receive) on impulse.

To help with this, I've unsubscribed from all shopping and store related e-mail newsletters. If I know I don't need anything, why should it matter if The Gap is having 40% off this weekend? We think about our purchases and question our desires to buy if they're new and untested. For example, I recently thrifted a brass tea pot made in Holland. I already have a couple of tea pots (and use them all) but one has a chip in the spout and is 10 years old. As my Dutch friend came into the house, the chipped spout left. I also recently received new linen bedding from a collaborating brand. Linen bedding has been something I've been shopping around for and hoping to own for about three years, so when the opportunity arose to collaborate and receive the sheets, it wasn't a reaction to have more, it was a measured desire to thoughtfully fulfill. Waiting even a couple of months from the moment you want something to the moment you allow yourself to buy helps you buy much less (because likely you'll realize it's not worth buying or that you don't really want it too badly) and save tons of money!

3. We use and love our things, and if we don't, they don't stay.

This allows for a "minimalist" to have bookshelves full of books or a kitchen teeming with gear (I have both and still don the moniker of "minimalist"). So long as the things in your home are used and loved, there is no magic number to what I'll allow myself to keep. It's about the things we keep having intention, not just keeping as few items as possible.

4. We see our things as gifts to bless others with both as we own them in lending and as we give them away.

Minimalism to me is not letting your things be so precious that you can't give freely. We regularly lend out our car for weekends at a time. Whenever I buy new clothes, I give things away to friends before donating the rest. Books I won't re-read to go my book club or local libraries. Soon, we'll be getting a new dining room table in a collaboration with a furniture store, and so we've given our current one to a newlywed couple in our church. Lending and giving are some of the greatest gifts a community can boast and minimalism fosters them so well.

5. Lastly, we're thankful.

This sounds simple, but it really changes everything in this materialistic world. Gratitude fuels contentment. Just as we say thanks before tucking into a meal, we say thanks on the way home from the store or after receiving yet another Amazon package, or folding the laundry. Cultivating gratitude for what you do have dampens the desire for more, and minimalism plays a large role in that. Being thankful for what you have means you aren't always looking for what's next, or what you don't have. Having less makes it all easier to do :)