what's hiding in your Spice Cupboard?

Around four years ago I started studying Holistic Nutrition through the Canadian School for Natural Nutrition. Life happened, I quit my day job and started my photography business, started teaching yoga full time and had a baby. My studies were pushed aside and I never completed the course. I was kind of torn up about it at first, but eventually accepted that I couldn't do everything at once and I would come back to it when the time was right.

But even though I didn't complete the course, I still learned a ton about my own diet and nutrition and what I wanted in my grocery list and what I didn't. That was the start of completely turning around the way we ate and grocery shopped.
Today when you look inside our fridge you'll find organic fruit and veggies (locally grown whenever possible), organic and high quality cheese and other dairy products, almond milk without the harmful additives and preservatives, all locally sourced meats and eggs, and blahbity blah, you get the point.

After I'd learned all about the garbage that is added into our "food" and how harmful it is, I just couldn't turn a blind eye anymore and I had no choice but to change. But one area of my kitchen I failed to improve upon was my spice cupboard. It's the one that always smells like oregano and other mystery odours. I actually hadn't thrown any old spices out... ever... like not since moving out of my parents. Gross right? As I got older and I became a better cook, spices (and good quality spices) became a big part of my cooking essentials. Thus needing more space in my narrow little cabinet.

I have to say I wasn't surprised to find plenty of unhealthy ingredients in that rarely re-organized cupboard. Not only unhealthy, but way too old to be considered good quality anymore. When was the last time you gave your spice cupboard a good ol' fashion clean sweep?

Here are some helpful tips for improving the health and quality of your spice cupboard.

Take everything out and give your cupboard a good wipe down.

Go through everything you took out. I went through and read every label and every time I found a suspicious ingredient I wrote it down and googled it. Anything that contained harmful additives went into the garbage.

Here's a short list of commonly found food additives you might find in your spice cupboard.

- (Aluminum) Calcium Silicate
- Magnesium Silicate
- Prussiate of soda, yellow
- Silicon Dioxide
- Sodium Aluminosilicate
- Acesulfame Pottassium
 - Monosodium Glutamate or MSG (more names: glutamic acid, glutamate, monopotassium glutamate, calcium glutamate, monoammonium glutamate, magnesium glutamate, natrium glutamate, yeast extract, anything hydrolyzed, any hydrolyzed protein, calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate, yeast food, yeast nutrient, autolyzed yest, gelatin, textured protein, soy protein, soy protein (concentrate), soy protein isolate, whey protein (concentrate), vetsin, ajinomto)

For a more in depth look at MSG check out this article by John Douilliard
Here's a great article on food additives if you're interested in learning more

Not everything in your cupboard will have a date on it but you can make some rough estimates following this best before guideline from womansday.com:

- ground spices (turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg) 2 - 3 years
- dried herbs (oregano, parsley, basil) 1 - 3 years
- seasoning blends 1 - 2 years
- whole spices (cloves, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns) 4 years
- seeds 4 years (except poppyseed and sesame which should be discarded after 2 years)
- extracts 4 years (except vanilla which should last forever apparently)

I did read a couple different articles that recommended some tighter guidelines and shorter dates than this, but personally I'm happy with these numbers.

Write down everything you throw out and make a point of replacing it. I was stuck needing chilli powder on several occasions, so annoying.


It's absolutely disgusting the amount of poison that gets put into our food, deliberately. If you've never read about food additives then I would highly recommend doing some research on it. You would be shocked to see the shit that ends up in our "food." Do yourself a favor and get familiar with some of the most common and most harmful food additives so you can spot them on the ingredients label when grocery shopping.



Who's that toddler sleeping in my babys crib?

my tiny baby is one! how did that happen?

sawyer james, what a little munchkin. you just completely make my heart melt every time i look at you. i honestly could not even imagine what my life would look like if it didn't have you, my friend!

you started out so tiny, just 5lbs 15oz

It didn't take long before you were an official chubby baby

you were a fast learner, and was always eager to reach your next milestone

we got a hot tub your first summer and you thought the bubbles were hilarious

you were always a short napper, but always gave the house enough sleep at night

you are such a blessing my little heart, happy birthday love.

sawyer's weekly mug shot

i'm a few weeks late, but better late than never, right? am i right?

thought i'd try a 53 week post commitment for my little baby dude. a portrait of sawyer every week in two thousand and fifteen. because why?

not so much because i think it will be neat looking back, but more so because i'm every bit as obsessed with him and taking his picture as one can expect a photographer mom to be.

they might not always be fantastic quality or frame worthy, but that's life right. out of the ideal and into the real.





sunday productivity

little sawyer went to moberly lake with grandma and grandpa today, giving dan and i the whole afternoon to work on our upstairs bathroom. we're still in the demo phase of the project and are tediously chipping away all the old tile. dan already ripped the sink and old medicine cabinet out, next to come out will be the tub.

we recently watched the movie "the guest" and kinda fell in love with the soundtrack.
it certainly made the demolition feel more dramatic and important.


and that was the day we found out the dog had lice

recently there's been a lot of talk about the prospect of us moving out of town.
a couple years ago, before we bought this house, we very nearly bought a 7 acre piece of property about 10 minutes from town. we had a move in date all set and everything, but at the last minute, the guy backed out and said he wasn't ready to move. soooo we decided to buy in town.

well, recently cindy has been chatting with him again - their acreage is next to his - and he had asked if we were still interested in buying. apparently he's thinking he'll be ready to move by spring, and if that's the case, then we're going to try and sell this house and snatch up his place. he had said that he'd give us first dibs when he was ready, so we'll see what happens.

do you ever have those days when you make a plan and you get all ready to spend the whole day going at a project, and then life has another plan and is like, HEY, you could do all that shit, or instead you could find out your dog has lice.. that was kind of like todays day, but its funny because the day could not have worked out anymore perfectly.

i had planned on dropping sawyer off at cindy's (my MIL) and then heading home to do mine and dan's book keeping and tax stuff for the day. i'd mentioned before leaving that i needed to pop into the pet store and grab dex a shampoo and give her a bath cuz she'd been super itchy lately. and then cindy's like, oh if you find a good one pick one up for me too, mayhem's been really itchy lately as well.
i didn't really think about it too much, until about an hour later as i was staring into the beady little eyes of a speck sized creepy crawly, scurrying around at the base of dex's furry coat, like he owned the place.

thank god these little bastards only live on dogs and won't jump on a person or live in a house. so the dog groomer i'd been talking with at the pet store told me to head to the vets and buy a couple doses of their lice medication, wash her bed and anything she'd been sleeping on in hot water (and clean your house from top to bottom in a frantic fit of liceaphobia). so how convenient was it that cindy already had sawyer and i had the whole day free to take care of this little lice issue

i ended up calling cindy and informing her that her dog almost certainly has lice as well and i told her i'd pick her up a pack of the medication. then she reminded me that they had him in a kennel over christmas and i'd bet my hat that he picked up the bugs there. ugh. this is a gross post.

but as always, the eternal optimist, the bright side is that i had the entire day toddler free to clean my house and do some reorganizing while i was at it. since the chance of us wanting to sell the house this year is possibly high, we've been getting back to the last few renovations we want to do first. 

i don't have the greatest before shots of our house when we first bought it, just iPhone pictures. all the others were lost when my hard drive got dropped last january (dan..) rest in piece big sally.
i've got a few, but they don't show how horrible the wall colours were when we first bought it. they were white and a very saturated hunter green. ick. we've also since removed the banisters and just have that wall open.

so much better now . . .

happy furday!



the K I L N H O U S E by shannon butler

this past december, i had the pleasure of taking photos for the lovely shannon butler and her amazeballs pottery. if you haven't heard of the kilnhouse, 
then you've clearly been living under a rock. shannon is a potter, like no other. 
her unique blend of traditional pottery and sculpture art is consistently awesome and always exciting. she creates all types of pieces, anything from coffee mugs to ceramic flower bejazzled moose antlers. i myself have a several trays and planters sprinkled around my home. not to mention the kitchen cupboard chock full of s.b. mugs.

okay this is totally morbid... but if i get cremated when i die, i'd totally love my remains to be kept inside a shannon butler urn... kinda dark but, just sayin.
that must be the exciting thing about pottery and ceramics (are those the same things?) you can build A LOT of things. like, the possibilities are pretty vast.

this one time, i tried my hand at pottery wheelin' at the kilnhouse, tried making a bowl. i took my wedding ring off, turned to dan and said, "don't let me forget, i'm putting my wedding ring in my jeans." and he said yup. and then i proceeded to turn this lumpy piece of clay into this awesome little bowl all shiny and new. 
and then it got too skinny and kind of collapsed into itself - but back to the rings.
something like 2 weeks later, i'm in nipawin saskatchewan at my grandma's house and she says to me, she says:
hey ashley, why aren't you wearing your wedding ring? and i look down at my bare fingers and think: where the #$% is my ring?

i retraced my steps in my head and actually remembered what jeans i was wearing the day we did pottery. and then i immediately texted dan (who was in fsj) and in the least suspicious way i could, asked him to kindly check my lightest wash jeans in the closet. (his favourites, make my butt look great apparently.)
totally anti-climatic story, the rings were still in my jean pocket... phew!

so the moral of the story is, don't press your fingers together too hard when turning clay on the pottery wheel, and don't stick expensive tiny objects in old ass jean pockets.

x o x o