Cinnamon Hazelnut Mug Cake

The first time I made this recipe, I knew I was onto something. It was the most moist (is that correct? most moist?) mug cake I ever had! One of the problems I had with mug cakes is how dry they were to the bottom, so I always had to add whipped cream or something similar to create moisture in it. So I made it again this week and when I got the same result, I just knew I had to share it!

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The Easy Microwave Keto Bread I Can't Get Enough Of

Hello Lovely,

I know I said that I was done with the keto diet, but I did hold on to the low carb side of it for a smart carb diet. One of my favourite go to’s on this trend is keto bread. Now there are many variations of this, and I even shared one before, but this is different. This one I found on Pinterest. It’s so easy to whip up as it cooks in the microwave in 90 seconds. The best part? Toasting it afterwards for a delicious firm bun! I usually do this as an English muffin, but guess what, you can make this in any shape depending on the container you put it in. If you want to use a sandwich container to get the shape and simply manipulated the ingredients to make it stretch. I make this for breakfast once a week because it’s so easy. It takes about 10 minutes to make even though you only need 1.5 in the microwave so it’s still a quick and easy dish to whip up!

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Microwave Keto Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 TBS almond flour

  • 1.5 TBS melted butter

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 egg white

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a mug (if making an English muffin) or sandwich container for a “toast bread” feeling.

  2. Microwave for 90 seconds.

  3. Cut in half (if you did it in a mug). Feel free to stop here, but for a firmer “bread”, lightly toast on each side in a skillet before serving.

  4. Top with whatever you want and enjoy!

What’s your go to breakfast during the week that you can whip up without a recipe? Tell us about it in the comments below.

 

Pin it now & make it later!

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DIY Glitter Monogrammed Gift Tag

Hello Lovely,

With only 12 days until Christmas, I’m sure some of you have already started wrapping your gifts. I’m hoping you haven’t because today I’m sharing a quick and easy craft that is going to instantly elevate ANY gift you’re giving this holiday season. I’m kicking off the 12 days of Christmas with a custom gift tag that is so simple, yet so chic.They were super easy to make and affordable too!

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Here’s what you’ll need to make the letters:

  • Glitter

  • Foam Brushes or regular paintbrushes

  • Cardboard or a file folder

  • 2 Inch Printable Letters A-H I-P Q-Z

  • Sharpie

  • Scissors

  • Glue

And here is how I made the letters:

  1. Start by printing out the letters. Each sheet has two of each letter. Cut out the letters you need.

  2. Using a sharpie, trace the letters onto your cardboard or file folder. The cardboard is sturdier but a file folder will work just as well.

  3. You don’t have to, but I shaded in each letter just in case I didn’t get complete coverage with the glitter.

  4. Spread your letters out on a clean work surface, that you can easily lift to the garbage once you’re done. Using one of your brushes, apply the glue to your letters one at a time. Sprinkle the glitter carefully over each letter and allow to dry for 10 minutes. Then shake off excess.

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And that’s it! That’s all it takes! Here they are on my presents! I still added a gift tag but you don’t have to. So there you have it!  Super easy DIY glitter lettered gift tags! How are you wrapping up the holidays?

DIY Cat Repellant

Hello Lovely,

I am the proud owner of two 11 year old cats. Cats make the perfect pets for lazy people like me. Feed ‘em, give ‘em water and they take care of the rest. They don’t interrupt my TV shows, I don’t have to bathe them and they play with each other. As long as their litter tray is clean, they’re happy. But there are a few things about cats that aren’t so great. THEY SCRATCH EVERYTHING! On top of that, I can’t leave flowers lying around, or my male cat will eat them. I never understood why cats like to eat plants. After photographing a meal, I usually have to dispose of the plants otherwise I know I’ll find it half chewed or worse regurgitated, somewhere around the house. So when I found this DIY recipe for a cat repellant spray using items I already have at home, I couldn’t wait to try it.

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Because cats are way more sensitive to smells than we are, they are less likely to mess with or chew on the leaves if they smell gross. so I made some repellant spray and hoped it would also work on furniture.

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materials

  • glass mist bottle

  • printable labels

  • printable square label paper

  • essential oils

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directions

  1. In your bottle, mix together 3/4 parts water with 15 drops of each essential oil. cats dislike eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint — just choose the ones you don’t mind the scent of yourself.

  2. Shake the bottle up and spray solution on the leaves of your plant and into the soil.

  3. You can spray your plants pretty liberally, and you can add more or less oil depending on what works for you and your cats.

So does this really work? I used essence of peppermint and this didn’t work at all. I sprayed some old placemats and it actually attracted my cat. He laid comfortably on it until I shooed him. And I never have a problem with them bothering my artificial plants. I was really hoping this would keep them off the furniture but all it really did was make the house smell minty.

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I’ll try this again with lavender or eucalyptus essential oil when I buy some later this month. If you try this, let me know how it works for you. Share your experience in the comment section below.

Quick and Easy Back to School Lunches

Hello Lovely,

So the kids are back to school and you're back to standing in the kitchen every morning scratching your head. What in the world are the kids going to eat for lunch? For many parents the answer is simple: the kids can buy lunch at the cafeteria. But for others who don't go that route, coming up with a lunch item every day for their kids can be a real task. No one wants to hear, "That again?!" from their kids. And even as adults, you want to be excited about what you're going to have for lunch. So here are five quick and easy lunch recipes I've tried over the years, that I've rounded up for you to make that morning prep a little easier.

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Make Healthy Lunches Exciting with These Chickpea Sandwiches

These easy chickpea salad sandwiches will definitely shake things up a bit and keep you full all day long! This creamy chickpea salad can be made in advance and stored in the fridge, so its ready to go whenever you need to pack a quick lunch. The salad is also really easy to customise so feel free to use whatever veggies you have in the fridge and add fresh herbs, spices, cheese and whatever else you need to see you through the work week.
 

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CALIFORNIA INSPIRED CHICKEN FLATBREAD

This recipe mimics a California chicken flatbread with juicy chicken, bacon, mushrooms, tomato, cilantro, and sweet yet savoury balsamic vinagrette! 

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Vegan Spinach & Mushroom Grilled Cheese Sandwich

There's no beating the classic grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. But trust me, this is not your mama's grilled cheese! It's fresh, fun and cheesy! It's a great combination of flavours. Imagine a spinach dip between two buttery slices of bread. Absolute bliss!
 

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Turkey Burrito Lunch Bowls (Meal Prep)

Trust me when I say you will not have time to prepare food every single morning if you expect to make it to school and work on time without sacrificing some major sleep. But fear not! This lunch recipe can be meal prepped and is super easy to put together. All you'll need is ground turkey, brown rice (or cauliflower rice) and a vegetable. You can even add cheese if you want.

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Grab-and-Go Salad

Rushing through the usual morning routine, we often have to choose between healthy and fast when it comes to our meals: especially lunch.  An easy way to combine both ideals is to prep a salad the night before and place it where you can have quick access the next day. Using the basic lettuce and tomatoes, you can add fun ingredients such as cranberries, carrots , celery and cheese with the added protein of chicken , turkey or ham.  One of the best parts of this salad: Shaking it up!  By adding a vinaigrette based dressing the night before or right before eating the salad, you can quickly combine the salad and dressing in 3 – 4 quick shakes.
 

Quick and Easy Back-to-School Snacks For The Kids

Hello Lovely,

Kids are back to school and you’re back to your routine. Even though I'm a full-grown, college-educated adult with no kids of my own, the start of September is still back-to-school season for me, because I'm a school counsellor. All three recipes below are healthy, nutritious and most importantly, tasty enough for even the pickiest eaters. These are convenient make-ahead recipes even for the busiest parents!
 

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Beck's Crackers

Seasoning saltines using an altered method from Joanna Gaines friend Beck, makes crisp, buttery crackers that are great with creamy dips like my hummus. They're also really yummy on top of soups or salads. I like them for parties and kids school snacks because they're easy to make and can be prepared in advance. In fact, these taste better if you eat them a day or four later. And they can be so filling, they're sure to be a huge hit!

  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 0.7 ounce envelopes dry Italian or Mediterranean dressing mix
  • 1 tablespoon crush red pepper flakes (leave out if you or the kiddos don't like pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill (not necessary if you use the Mediterranean mix)
  • 1 1lb box saltine crackers
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large (14-16 cup) deep container, with a tight-fitting lid, combine the oil, lemon juice, dressing mix, pepper flakes and dill. Whisk to combine.
  2. Add the crackers and turn them over a few times to ensure they are fully coated. Let stand for 5 minutes, turning the crackers over twice.
  3. Place the crackers on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, allow to cool then store for tomorrow's snack!
  4. To make the hummus, mix one can of chickpeas with remaining oil mixture (about 1/4 cup) and 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese in a food processor.
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Apple Cheese Wraps (serves 4 )

Do you remember eating Lunchables as a kid? I never liked them. I liked the idea behind it but it always tasted fake (not to mention my parents complained about the price). If you have kids who love Lunchables, why not save money by making it yourself? It's so easy and so much healthier because you'll know exactly what's in it. This snack covers all of the critical food groups with fibre, protein and good carbs. The best part? It's fully customisable. Add nuts or grapes or whatever else you like for added health benefits.
 

Prep Time: 2 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 apple
  • 1 slice lemon
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese, cut in half
  • 2 slices pre-sliced deli turkey or ham, cut in half

Preparation

1. Slice the apple into 1/2 inch thick slices. Rub the apple with the lemon wedge to prevent from going brown.

2. Slice the cheddar cheese into 1/2 inch wide slices and the ham in 1/2 or in 1/4 (the ham needs to be large enough to wrap around the apple). 

3. Place an apple slice and a cheese slice on top of the deli meat and fold over deli meat to wrap.

4. Serves with crackers and a dip of your choice for a satisfying on the go snack.

 

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Gluten Free Sandwich on a Stick

It's the kids' turn to pack their own lunches. Introduce them to this submarine skewer and they'll have a blast expressing their creativity and sliding on their favorite sandwich ingredients. Best of all, it's practically mess-free since the dressings will have to be on the side—no knives, squirting, or spreading required.
Prep Times:

20 minutes

Yield:

4 servings

Ingredients:

8 (6-inch) skewers
4 oz. deli sliced lemon chicken or smoked turkey breast
1 cup chopped arugula or spinach
4 oz. your favourite cheese, cut into small squares
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 cup small dill pickles
3/4 cup ranch dressing or deli mustard (optional)

Preparation:

1. Soak skewers in water for 30 minutes.

2 Thread skewers with chicken (or turkey) arugula, cheese, tomatoes and pickles. Serve with ranch dressing or mustard for dipping.

 

Simple Blueberry Galette

Hello Lovely,

Who doesn't love a good blueberry pie? I love pies, but I don't always have the time to make the crust from scratch; especially before I got my food processor, it was just a nightmare. The scent of blueberry pie bubbling away in the oven is comforting and familiar, even in high summer, when pie baking isn't desirable because of the heat. Before I left for my summer travels, my mother insisted that I make a dessert for her. I had wanted to make a blueberry pie for awhile, so I figured it would be the easiest thing to do. I already had frozen pie crusts in the freezer and blueberries happened to be on sale. This recipe is easily done in , so you can have a warm blueberry pie on table in no time!

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Simple Blueberry Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pillsbury frozen pie crust, thawed
  • 3 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375° F.

2. Line pie dish with one pie crust. The pie dish I used was smaller than needed so I actually had a little leftover. I folded it over to form the top crust in Step 5.

3. In a saucepan, add blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, water, and lemon juice. Stir just to combine.

4. Cook the blueberries over medium low heat for about 10-15 minutes or until it begins to thicken. Remove it from heat and let it cool down.

5. Pour berry mixture into the crust. If you have enough to cut: Cut remaining pastry into 1/2 - 3/4 inch wide strips, and make lattice top. Crimp and flute edges. Or fold the edge of the crust over to make a galette, like I did.

6. Bake pie on lower shelf of oven for about 50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Cool before serving! I got greedy and didn't wait and that's why my pie fell apart, but it was still delicious!

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If you try this recipe, don't forget to share it with the hashtag, #LifeByOlivia! Happy baking!
 

HOMEMADE NATURAL MAKEUP BRUSH CLEANER

Hello Lovely,

Do you clean your makeup brushes? 

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d never thought about cleaning my makeup brushes. I mean, I knew I was supposed to clean them, I just never made the time to do it properly (often opting to just rinse it with soap and water). Big mistake.  As it turns out, cleaning makeup brushes is a pretty important task that can prevent bacteria from spreading on the skin.

Bacteria = breakouts.

Breakouts = makeup brush contamination.

Makeup brush contamination = more breakouts.

It’s a nasty cycle.

I had bought a bottle witch hazel during my last shopping trip in Miami because I heard about all of the amazing benefits of it with beauty products. I also knew that castille soap is like the coconut oil of bases (holy and highly revered). There are a number of store-bought brush cleaner options, and there are also a number of DIY tutorials on Pinterest. Most of the ingredients used in both the store-bought and “homemade” versions are far from natural, so I took what I learned and started experimenting. After all, how hard could it be, right? With a few basic ingredients, which I already had on hand for DIY beauty products, I was able to easily whip up a natural solution.

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To say that I’m now a brush cleaning advocate is an understatement.  Trust me, just try it once–dip your makeup brush in a few simple ingredients–your beauty routine will forever be changed. From what I’ve read, most makeup professionals recommend cleaning brushes daily, particularly the ones used for foundation and blush. But considering I don't wear makeup every day (special occasions only) I'll stick to cleaning them after every use.

My homemade brush cleaner recipe works for any cleaning schedule since it makes enough solution for soaking sessions (my preferred method of cleaning) or daily spraying. Whichever method you choose, go with something that’s doable for you.

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Homemade Natural Makeup Brush Cleaner

 Servings 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup witch hazel
  • 2 tsp baby mild castile soap
  • 1 tsp skin-nourishing oil like olive oil, almond oil, or jojoba oil., optional
  • 1 cup distilled water

Instructions

  1. In a bottle or mason jar, combine all the ingredients in the order listed (the recipe). Shake the bottle.

  2. Swirl makeup brushes in the mixture to clean.

  3. Carefully blot brushes to remove excess dirt and oils.

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