Dans le Lakehouse

Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

May 22, 2017

Quick + Easy Chocolate Orange Bark Recipe

Quick + Easy Chocolate Orange Bark Recipe

This deliciously quick and easy, orange-infused chocolate bark has an ulterior motive.

Last week I was in Ottawa for work and I tacked on a few extra days to my trip so I could visit my friend Ashley.  Since moving from Ottawa I've visited her every year but the gaps between visits widens as we both get busier, so I was so thrilled to capitalize on this opportunity to see her.  We always squeeze in some shopping and crafting (Exhibit A and Exhibit B), but spend most of our time just chatting and catching up.  She recently started selling doTERRA brand essential oils and I use a lot of essential oils in my crafts on the blog (like my DIY air freshener, my handmade soap experiments, and my pretty soy candles), so this time we chatted a lot about essential oils.  Because she's starting her own business, I shared my knowledge about connecting with people on social media, taking styled product photos and - of course - we brainstormed a ton of fun projects.  Ashley taught me all about the difference in quality between doTERRA oils and the (much, much) cheaper kinds of essential oils I've been using in my DIYs.  I learned about the true cost of making quality essential oils - especially when a company like doTERRA empowers growers and cultivates healthy working relationships. 

But I still wasn't sold on the massive price difference, so to demonstrate the quality Ashley whipped up this delicious chocolate orange bark using a doTERRA brand essential oil.

You can pretty much convince me of anything if there's chocolate or turquoise involved!

I had never in my life made chocolate bark, but it was so delicious that I wanted to share it with you.  If you're looking for a pretty dessert to whip up in two seconds flat, you might want to try this easy chocolate bark recipe.  It's simple to make but looks so fancy!  Here's what you need:


Quick + Easy Chocolate Orange Bark Recipe

Making this chocolate bark is too easy to even call this a recipe: simply melt the baking chocolate on low heat in a small pot, add 6 drops of orange essential oil and combine well, then pour into a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Let cool a few minutes and top with orange zest and shredded coconut.

Quick + Easy Chocolate Orange Bark Recipe

Pop into the freezer for a couple of hours and - ta da!  World's easiest dessert!  But it tastes phenomenal - dangerously addictive, with a very satisfying orange flavor. 

Quick + Easy Chocolate Orange Bark Recipe
Quick + Easy Chocolate Orange Bark Recipe
Quick + Easy Chocolate Orange Bark Recipe

I've only ever cooked/baked with extracts, not oils, so this was a fun experiment!  Have you ever tried cooking with essential oils?

I have so many more DIY projects in the bath and beauty realm I'm excited to try, so I'm definitely tempted to start splurging on better quality essential oils.  Until my conversations with Ashley, I didn't realize how many fillers and harmful contaminants were lurking in essential oils marketed as "pure". 

But darn it, the prices are so intimidating!  It makes sense though, if 30lbs of lavenders are what's required to make 15ml of oil...  Plus doTERRA reportedly has excellent relationships with farmers, who are paid fair wages and have healthy working conditions.  I will always pay more for a product if I know that the money goes to workers.  And, really, you need so little that a bottle really goes a long way! 

Quick + Easy Chocolate Orange Bark Recipe

If you're going to experiment with some essential oil recipes or DIYs, or pop some oil into a pretty diffuser to naturally add a fabulous aroma to your home, check the ingredients and quality of the essential oils you buy because some brands actually contain really toxic stuff.  If you've been intrigued by doTERRA and the concept of a high quality oil, I'd love to put you in touch with my friend Ashley, a new Wellness Advocate for the brand (the only way to purchase these oils - the "doTERRA" labeled products available on Amazon are knock offs).  It doesn't matter where you live in the world, she can set you up and she's just so, so knowledgeable about the products and company.  She has actually worked in health advocacy for much of her career, so she's especially interested in the health benefits of essential oils and uses them to enhance her family's wellness (like using certain oils as a decongestant for mild colds and diffusing calming aromas to help her family relax and unwind).   

Plus she'll ply you with goodies, so there's that added incentive...
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May 16, 2017

8 Modern Dog Bowl Stands (Shop Stylish Raised Feeders)

7 Modern Dog Bowl Stands (Shop Stylish Raised Feeders)

Because Szuka's bowls are always out (she eats and drinks whenever she feels like it throughout the day, which is so convenient), I wanted her raised bowl stand to complement our decor, but there really wasn't much on the market at the time - so Hubby and I made her a sweet mid-century inspired raised feeder.  The three of us still love it!  So then we made a pink raised bowl stand on gold hairpin legs for my Mom's place too.  Now there are definitely a slew of really great modern dog bowls and bowl stands on the market, so I rounded up 8 favorites for anyone who wants a stylish raised feeder for their pup without having to bust out the jigsaw.  (Don't forget to chat with your vet to make sure a raised feeder is right for your four legged pal). 

This wood elevated pet food dish with white bowls look so beautiful, I'm not convinced they aren't meant for humans.  I love the warmth of the wood, which would really blend in beautifully with mid-tone wood floors for a dog bowl stand that disappears, visually.  It reminds me of the solid walnut tray on legs we made my Mom, so this has potential to serve as DIY inspiration, too...

7 Modern Dog Bowl Stands (Shop Stylish Raised Feeders)

For a change of pace, this acrylic dog bowl stand (which comes with TEAL bowls) made my heart skip a beat and I almost ordered it.  The price tag had another effect on my heart but, really, if this lasts a long time then the cost of use is next to nothing!  It would look so perfect in an ultra modern, minimalist home.

7 Modern Dog Bowl Stands (Shop Stylish Raised Feeders)

For a much more affordable dog bowl stand with a similar "lucite" look, this acrylic base with stainless bowls is a great alternative - although I do love the colored bowls of the previous stand.

7 Modern Dog Bowl Stands (Shop Stylish Raised Feeders)
This simple chrome dog bowl stand is a chameleon, working well in a mid-century modern inspired space or contemporary digs.  It's versatile and a great price.

7 Modern Dog Bowl Stands (Shop Stylish Raised Feeders)
This resin dog bowl stand is lower to the ground and comes in such summery colors.  Of course I love the turquoise, but the pink is adorable too.  The design is so clever for messy eaters!
7 Modern Dog Bowl Stands (Shop Stylish Raised Feeders)
Did someone say mint?  These mint-colored dog bowls look so perfect in a matte black bowl stand - I love the retro vibe (it comes in other colors, like purple, and different sizes too). 
7 Modern Dog Bowl Stands (Shop Stylish Raised Feeders)
I love the simple, modern look of this elevated dog bowl stand and I really appreciate that it comes in different heights to ensure a good match with a pup's size.  Plus, like all of my favorites, it would work really well with mid-century modern inspired decor. 
7 Modern Dog Bowl Stands (Shop Stylish Raised Feeders)
You know I'm not a huge fan of gold in my home, but even I cannot resist this gold dog bowl - it looks like a hunk of pyrite and I am a huge fan of rocks.  It's SO glamorous!
7 Modern Dog Bowl Stands (Shop Stylish Raised Feeders)There you go: some of my favorite modern and stylish raised dog bowl feeders, plus some DIY ideas!  If you happened to score (or make!) a really cool dog bowl stand I'd love for you to share a link in the comments.

P.S. With hot weather on the horizon, don't forget to check out my post for tips on how to keep your dog cool in the summer months
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May 12, 2017

Lake Life Lately: Smoothie Bowls for Summer

Healthy Smoothie Bowl Recipes Ideas

I could no longer resist the siren song of the gorgeous smoothie bowls I kept seeing on Instagram (and pinning on Pinterest) - I HAD to make my own!  Honestly, at first I thought they seemed like an epic waste of time but one lazy morning I felt like slowing things down even more so I assembled a pair of smoothie bowls for Hubby and I and it was such a perfect breakfast.  We chatted as we picked out toppings and lazily ate them, watching the lake.  It's a step up from the layered smoothies we've been enjoying.  Starting a day with a pretty (and delicious!) breakfast put me in such a good mood.  So now I'm hooked!  I made this smoothie bowl for SoFabFood so you can catch the recipe (and my trick for keeping the toppings from sinking) over there.

Healthy Smoothie Bowl Recipes Ideas
Healthy Smoothie Bowl Recipes Ideas
Healthy Smoothie Bowl Recipes Ideas

There's something about having a delicious breakfast waiting for me that makes dragging myself out of bed so much easier.  I need that extra motivation these days because I've been so swamped with work and life that some days I kind of need that kick in the pants to get moving!  I'll spill the beans soon, but right now my tired little brain is still processing everything... but a little bit of chocolate granola seems to help, haha. 

Healthy Smoothie Bowl Recipes Ideas

I just ordered a secret smoothie bowl ingredient to make the most lakehouse-worthy smoothie bowl imaginable and I can't wait to show off my creations!  Breakfast is definitely starting to be my favorite meal of the day.

Have you tried this food craze yet?  If you're feeling tempted, there are a ton of great books with delicious smoothie bowl recipe ideas:


Healthy Smoothie Bowl Recipes Ideas


Healthy Smoothie Bowl Recipes Ideas


Healthy Smoothie Bowl Recipes Ideas

Yum!  Might be a nice idea to make one for Mom this weekend...
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May 11, 2017

DIY Crystal + Gold Gemstone Soap

I am just having so much fun playing with melt and pour soap!  I'll admit though, that I've had some flops that never made it to the blog - but even the wonky soaps are lovely because the organic glycerine soap base I use is really luxurious and I always experiment with really delicious smelling essential oils.  So even the silly looking soaps are enjoyed.

Although there was a cool mid-century modern inspired design that I loved (in theory - it was a little flawed in the execution), I think my "lake superior" soap is my favorite, followed closely by the gem stone soap experiments from last year.  Truthfully, I'm on the fence about today's crystal and gold vein soap because it just didn't turn out exactly how I pictured it in my mind, largely because of the overly optimistic size of the "gold veins".  Even friends and family who love how it turned out debate what it actually looks like (fudge, deli meat, gold?), so I thought I might as well share and see what YOU think it looks like.  I still think it looks like some kind of stone... 

DIY Crystal + Gold Gemstone Soap

Whatever it is, it sure is sparkly!  And smells delicious.  

DIY Gemstone Soap

Here's how I made this crystal and gold vein soap (following my first gem stone soap tutorial - linked here), plus what I think could improve the design!

 Supplies:


I cut up about two pounds of glycerine soap base into chunks and added some white mica powder then zapped it in the microwave in my Pyrex measuring cup for a minute or so - until melted.  I gave it a quick stir, poured it into my smaller bar silicone molds and let it sit overnight.  Then I had these creamy, translucent bars so I chopped them up into irregular "gem" shapes and placed them in my large loaf silicone mold.

DIY Crystal + Gold Gemstone Soap

I chopped up more glycerine soap base and added this gold mica soap colorant in gold (I used all six blocks) before melting it in the microwave.  Then I added my essential oil (I used half a tiny bottle of a cinnamon citrus I picked up), poured the melted glycerine over my crystals, spritzed the surface with alcohol, and let it set overnight. 

DIY Crystal + Gold Gemstone Soap

Once I popped out my long bar of soap, I cut large irregular pieces and shaved the edges to look more organic. 

DIY Crystal + Gold Gemstone Soap

I think the secret to a more realistic gold veined quartz soap would be to increase the size and volume of the crystal chunks so the gold is really just a tiny filler, filling in the gaps.  You might have noticed I tried adding some darker bronze and gold pieces for dimension, but that didn't really have the desired effect.  Next time I'll leave way more crystal spikes poking out the top because I loved how that aspect turned out!

DIY Crystal + Gold Gemstone Soap
DIY Crystal + Gold Gemstone Soap
DIY Crystal + Gold Gemstone Soap

But remember, you can always just buy a soap rock - which is how I got hooked on these gems!  
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April 27, 2017

Spring To-Do List


All winter I anxiously count down the days until spring, but those first few weeks of spring are always a little rough.  First of all, living where I do, we never know if a snowstorm is looming (it has snowed at the end of May here!).  Just recently I was traveling for work and the drive was so beautiful - it actually got up to 19 degrees Celsius, so when I checked into my motel I left my parka in the truck.  I didn't open the curtains in the morning and when I reached the lobby, I almost had a heart attack thanks to the raging snowstorm that greeted me.  Everyone in the lobby was bundled up because it had dropped to 5 below but I held my head high, shoulders back, and calmly walked to the truck like I was just too darn tough for a parka.  I was soaked and freezing all day long!  Since then, I have been a little hesitant opening up my curtains in the morning.  My second complaint is that there's this ugly little period of spring when the beautiful glitteriness that is winter has been replaced by brown grass and muddy roads - no flowers or leaves yet - just MUD.  I also hate being reminded that my lawn in 95% dog, fox, and goose poop.  

But I still feel this jittery anticipation, knowing that warm days, green grass, and beautiful flowers are on their way!  I am SO pumped for warmer weather so I can bust out my pretty flats and spring clothes (I'm still toggling between my spring jacket and my deep freeze parka).


This year Handy Hubby and I really need to focus our DIY efforts on the lakehouse exterior.  We always say we'll do a bunch of projects outside but then our motivation wanes once it's warm enough to get out on Lake Superior.  We tackle a couple of items, but the chores have piled up for years and, thanks to some new additions, our Spring/Summer To-Do List is scary long this year:

  • strip and re-stain deck
  • plant bushes along shoreline
  • plant more cedars to create more privacy around the property
  • start a vegetable garden?
  • build new concrete step
  • stain car port concrete
  • pick up and shovel (ugh!) gravel for driveway
  • tear down and replace vinyl siding?
  • close up a superfluous exterior entrance
  • finally deal with "illegal" garage structure
  • move some plants and shrubs to make mowing the lawn easier
  • revive the two gardens flanking the deck stairs
  • do some container gardening and buy some hanging baskets
  • tear down the old gasoline shack (or at least paint it)?
  • build an outdoor sofa or Adirondack chairs?
  • remove one segment of the dock and repair what's left

Yikes, that's a long list and I'm sure that's not even everything.  Also on our list: rake the lawn (get that poop and driftwood outta there) and get that grass healthy again!  I'd love a lush, green lawn...


If your outdoor list is as scary as ours, you can lighten the load by getting a quote from TruGreen, who will evaluate your lawn and trees and provide a tailored plan for reviving or maintaining their good health.  You can read more about what they do by clicking here.  Or visit their learning centre to receive FREE information on everything from maintaining healthy trees and understanding what makes for good soil to fighting drought, to help your yard look its absolute best this year.  Last year I learned how I was cutting the lawn wrong and by correcting the problem, the grass started to bounce back (after I scorched it for years by letting it grow too long and then cutting it too short, exposing the poor little dry stuff underneath to the hot, hot sun).  This year I'm also going to implement their other lawn care tips and see if I can't get the lush, soft grass of my dreams.

Just add it to the long, scary list!

If you're looking at your own spring and summer to-do and know you're missing something, here's a handy little infographic that will give you some ideas for upgrading your backyard and patio.  Because, secretly, I just want everyone to feel as overwhelmed as I do...    


This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of TruGreen.ca. The opinions and text are all mine.
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April 11, 2017

A Cute, Blue Utility Trailer Makeover

My Blue Utility Trailer Makeover

This is the kind of DIY project where you see how much of a country mouse I've become... 

Spring has sprung - the first shipping vessel came to my city recently and the captain reported that there's barely any ice on Lake Superior, which is totally unbelievable.  The shipping season has opened earlier as a result and with surprisingly balmy temperatures, that familiar smell of spring (damp leaves and dog poop) is in the air already!

I'm excited.

It means we can get the boat out on the lake earlier, which means I can actually share more photos and (finally!) some aerial videos with our drone (last year we launched too late in the season because of repairs).  An early spring also means we can start tackling yard work pretty soon too - we just need those last few heaps of snow to melt, but I'm already seeing tons of grass!  To help move our yard work along, we bought a little utility trailer from Kijiji to use with our riding lawn mower to haul stuff around the property.  Wheelbarrows are for chumps.  These mini trailers are normally hundreds of bucks (this one is the most similar to our dump cart) but we got this for $80. 

My Blue Utility Trailer Makeover
My Blue Utility Trailer Makeover

It was a little rusty and beat up, though, but functioned perfectly.  Hubby asked me to paint it, but I was super busy with other projects and work, so he dangled this carrot: "you can paint in turquoise".

Sold.

My Blue Utility Trailer Makeover
My Blue Utility Trailer Makeover

I had a case of Rust-Oleum Harbor Blue in my spray paint stash and, after prepping the wagon (thorough wash, light sand), I blasted it with multiple thin, light coats - even the wheels!  Now I'm eyeing up our ugly old riding lawnmower too...

My Blue Utility Trailer Makeover

Between this trailer, our turquoise front door, and the turquoise guesthouse trim and door, I'm easing the neighbors into the day I decided to paint our entire garage bright turquoise with a huge, Instagram-worthy mural on the garage door.  #notkidding
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April 8, 2017

Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota

Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota

This post is sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Tourism but the content (excluding photography) and opinions expressed here are my own.

Before our recent trip to Punta Cana, I honestly couldn't remember the last time we took a trip somewhere for vacation.  I logged a lot of miles going back and forth from here to Toronto for family emergencies and/or boat shopping, but those were hurried, stressful trips.  We had the luxury of going to Duluth, MN (twice!) to exchange a damaged bathtub - does that count as a vacation?  Before that, I spent time in Hungary for research but that was more than four years ago.  Times flies!  Prior to that, though, Hubby and I traveled quite a bit for work and leisure.  We traveled to Greece, France, Portugal and a little bit in Canada and the United States (including cities in Texas, New York, New Jersey, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Vermont).  Those North American trips were so much fun - we logged so many miles on our little hatchback at the time!  Road trips are my favorite because I love exploring little towns and finding random things to see - my Pyrex collection grew thanks to so many roadside antique shops.

Since coming home from our most recent trip, I can't help but miss how much we used to travel, especially those little trips.  Living in Ottawa, we were so much closer to other cities.  Here on Lake Superior we can feel pretty isolated at times, which is why our vacation felt SO nice.  But now I'm dreaming of more.  I've always wanted to go to Hawaii and Palm Springs, but then readers started suggesting places I'd never thought to visit, places with warm climates and more affordable hotels and more unique attractions.  It really opened my eyes, so when the South Dakota Department of Tourism reached out about crating a post about the incredible sights to see in the community of Hot Springs, I was intrigued and thought it would be a fun opportunity to consider a new place to add to our list of potential vacations - and maybe yours, too!

The photos have definitely proved to be quite enticing:


Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota
Angostura Rec Area
Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota
Wild Horse Sanctuary
Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota
Freedom Trail
Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota
Wind Cave National Park Wildlife

Close to canyons, the community of Hot Springs, South Dakota looks like it has a lot to offer outdoors enthusiasts.  From the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary to Wind Cave National Park, there is so much wildlife to enjoy.  And yes, there really is a hot springs there!  Actually, in 1890 Evans Springs was built over sparkling springs of 87-degree mineral water, creating a sheltered space to relax and feel the healing rejuvenation of the water.  Ahhhh.  I could have definitely used that this winter!  I remember visiting a hot springs as a kid on vacation and my family needed to literally drag me out of there.  We left in such a hurry my Mom and I left our bathing suits behind by accident!  There are also lake resorts, an award-winning gold course, and even a 41,000-square-foot mammoth research center, which is pretty cool. 

Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota

Sounds like this quaint little town - with more than 35 sandstone buildings! - would be such a relaxing place to get away from it all.

Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota

Has anyone been to Hot Springs, South Dakota?  Is it on your list of places to see?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

This post is sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Tourism but the content (excluding photography) and opinions expressed here are my own.
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