Decluttering…finding new homes for the boys’ toys

Carla @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily has, once again, inspired me to undertake the most dreaded of tasks…decluttering. It seems to be a never-ending process.

This time I decided to tackle the boys’ basement toys…a.k.a the boys’ ‘toy box’ (the Ikea storage unit).

Ikea Toy Storage

Lego, K’Nex, toy cars, a collection of super balls, games, puzzles, etc. all came under scrutiny. (this is the storage unit all cleaned up)

As the boys and I worked our way through the toys, two people came to mind that might be interested in becoming a ‘second home’ for some of the toys…Carla’s daughters @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily and my neighbour, Joanna’s son @ That Thing I Made.

Carla home school’s her girls…the perfect home for some of the boys’ educational toys…Junior Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit DVD for Kids, BrainQuest, Klutz Kwiz Kindergarten launch, Skip Bo Junior, and Leap Frog Twist and Shout Addition, and an Apple Pie Fraction Game…are all fun interactive, educational games.

An assortment of games, educational toys and super ballsI added in a collection of super balls, the game of Perfection, and some Yes and No Invisible Ink Game Books. I am so happy to have all these great games go to such a wonderful home!

 Joanna was happy to make room for the Lego, K’Nex, the assortment of toy cars, trucks, plastic animals, and flashcards. Her son, Tristan, was happy with the cars…he had fun playing with my boys as Joanna and I worked our way through the assortment of toys.

A bag of toy trucks and toys

Best of all…she took the ‘toy box’ to store them all in!

I was very happy to receive some freshly picked garlic from Joanna’s garden that her husband had just unearthed. This prompted Joanna to remember the leaves she had dried from an edible flowering plant in her garden she wanted me to try…Pineapple Sage.

Garlic from the garden and dried Pineapple Sage leaves

Apparently, one can brew dried PIneapple Sage leaves to make a winter tea. Click here for more information. Has anyone ever tried it?

As Carla lives nowhere near my neighbourhood,  you may be wondering how I will manage to get everything to Carla’s girls. Luckily, Carla lives on the way to my mom’s home.

I am excited to be able to tie in a quick visit tomorrow on my way to a ‘girl’s weekend’ with my mom.

P.S. I have a special surprise ‘edible gift’ for Carla and the girls. Stay tuned for Friday’s reveal.

P.P.S. I also have a little something for Carla’s eldest daughter…as most of the educational games and toys will be a bit too young for her to enjoy.

Mystery gift

Can you guess what it is? I won it at the 2012 Epi Pen Take Action Event…my boys were fascinated by it! Click here for our experience at the event this year.

Do you have a basement filled with outgrown toys like I did?

An Update On My Secret Sister Swap

I was relieved to hear that the package I sent to my Secret Sister arrived safe and sound! I can now reveal her to you…Virna @ craftmates.

She has just posted about the package I sent her for the Secret Sister Swap that was hosted by Carla @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily. Click here to view.

Thankfully, Virna posted pictures of all the gifts…unfortunately, in the rush to get the package off, I accidentally deleted all the pictures I had taken of the gifts from my camera. 😦

I focused Virna’s gifts on her love of everything to do with sewing, the 70’s and chocolate…she loved the Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookies! Click here for the adapted recipe.

For the 70’s aspect, I found a funky 70’s mug and put together 6 mini packages of individual cacao mixes…2 tbsp of Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Sugar and 1 tbsp of Mum’s Original Organic Cacao Powder…along with a recipe for her to enjoy. All she has to do is mix 1 tbsp of milk or milk substitute with the cacao mix, add 1 cup of hot milk or milk substitute, stir and enjoy!

Michael enjoys his hot cacao made with soy milk!

I also discovered, in one of my decluttering phases, stationary from when I was a child. Would you believe I still had a letter and envelope set with the ‘Brownie Owl’ at the top of the page! I couldn’t resist using it to write a letter to Virna explaining all the items in her Secret Sister package. 

For Virna’s love of everything to do with sewing, I revamped a tomato pin cushion following the directions from Tara @ Sew Tara. Click here for her DIY tutorial. My neighbour, Joanna @ That Thing I Made, had the perfect 70’s material for the job…she even threw in some bamboo bag handles for me to give to Virna.

The bamboo handles had me off on the hunt for a pattern and material. I tried to stay as close to Virna’s favourite colours of mustard, olive-green and turquoise as possible…while keeping that 70’s vibe. I was so pleased when I found, what I considered, the perfect material on the clearance rack at Fabricland …the lovely ladies swinging bags with olive-green and turquoise polka dots! There was just enough material for the budget friendly pattern…yeah!

I love to bake! I believe the quality of one’s ingredients = the quality of the product.

With that in mind, I put together a little bottle of pure vanilla…I split one vanilla bean and added it to 1/2 cup of vodka. The mixture will need to rest for at least a month.

All in all, I truly enjoyed my quest to put together a fun, creative budget friendly package for around $20. 

A thank you, once again to Carla @My 1/2 Dozen Daily for hosting the event.

P.S. If you live in and around the Milton area, you might be interested in the first craft show that Virna and her other friends @ craftmates will be attending on the weekend of November 10 and 11th 2012. Click here for more information.

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

I was inspired to bake up a batch of Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookies by my Secret Sister. Carla @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily’s Secret Sister Swap, hosted the event.

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies are one of my Secret Sister’s favourite cookies to bake at Christmas time…therefore, I thought it would be fun to bake an adapted version.

A win/win situation…my boys are able to try out a new cookie and my Secret Sister will receive a sweet treat in the mail!

My search through the internet for an adaptable Chocolate Crinkle Cookie recipe led me to Kate @ Living The Frugal Life. I loved her idea of freezing the cookie batter balls…

Forming Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookie balls of dough for the freezer

before tossing them in icing sugar and baking them.

Frozen Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookie batter balls rolled in icing sugarPerfect for the times when one craves a freshly baked cookie!

The only necessary adaption was the 2 eggs…I replaced them with 2 tbsp of water and 1/4 cup of prune puree added to the wet ingredients and an extra 1/2 tsp of baking soda to the dry ingredients.

I always believe that a recipe is only as good as the ingredients one uses…therefore, I made sure to use real cacao powder…Mum’s Original Organic Criollo Arriba Cacao Powder and Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Sugar. Click here for Kate’s yummy recipe.


Matthew enjoying a freshly baked Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookie

P.S. Unfortunately, in my rush to get my Secret Sister’s package off in the mail…I ended up deleting all the pictures  I took of the items in her package. I am hoping she will be posting her gifts I sent on her blog, at which point I will attach a link.

P.P.S. I want to thank Tara @ Sew Tara for her DIY section on her blog. It was my inspiration for one of the gifts for my Secret Sister…a Tomato Pin Cushion Revamp!  

P.P.P.S. I also want to give a shout out to my neighbour, Joanna @  That Thing I Made. She had the perfect material for the revamp…with a few colorfully topped pins…I was really pleased with the outcome, considering I am not much of a sewer! Joanna also threw in some awesome bamboo handles which inspired me to search for a sewing pattern for a bag and some funky 70’s material.