Se7en Celebrities: Caroline Collie – With Love from Here…

It is a tradition during the month of our Blogaversary to ask a couple of our favorite bloggers for a list of Se7en + 1 “anythings…” Things they love or things they loathe!!! Best books, best blogs, things you love about blogging, best outings, best ice-cream flavors, places to visit, best foods, fun traditions, habits, kid stuff you still enjoy, summer fun, winter fun, even se7en +1 favorite words – whatever they like…


Se7en + 1 Homemade Favourites:

A dear old friend of mine and her husband are visiting this week, from Germany, and the last time we spent more than a little time together was perhaps back in 2003 or 2004. As my friend sat on a bar stool in my kitchen and watched me preparing a from-scratch loaf of bread to accompany our dinner (more on that later) she tilted her head to the ceiling, laughed and commented on how wonderful it was to see so much change. If you knew me seven years ago, and we hadn’t spoken since then, your jaw might hit the floor just seeing the title of this post.


Because I was a poster child for TERRIBLE EATING. I hardly ever cooked anything that wasn’t made by following directions on a box. If a fresh salad ever made its way onto my table, you can be sure it had hard-boiled egg, bacon, avocado, more bacon and more salad dressing that I really want to admit. I often made meals where the only “vegetable” included was potatoes, and a meal out at my favourite fast food restaurant was at minimum a weekly occasion.

So why the Renaissance?

I suppose the answer to that question is two-fold. First, I left my home country (the USA) and moved to Scotland, where convenience eating became much less affordable, and convenience items were less readily available. I also started to miss foods from home, and had to learn how to cook them from scratch in order to enjoy them so far from home. Second, I started dating the fellow who eventually became my Hero Hubs. I can still remember the evening where I’d cooked a nice (decent but not necessarily hugely healthy meal) and he pointed out two important things to me. One, he is eight years older than me, and two, his family has a history of heart disease. “If you want me to be around for a long time,” he said, “we cannot continue to eat like this.”

It was a much-needed reality check.

From that point on, one step at a time, I began to implement more and more healthy eating into our diet. We are still a long way from where I’d like to be, but we are regularly getting good whole foods onto the table. I began to recognise that healthy eating, homemade living and keeping to a budget could all go hand-in-hand to some extent. Two countries (through South Africa and back to the USA) and two kids later (#3 is on the way!) I’m excited about finding new ways to get more homemade in our home and onto our table — for the sake of the Hubs, the kids, and me, too!

Here are my Se7en + 1 Homemade Favourites from the last Se7en {or so} Renaissance years!

  1. Artisan Bread : Last Christmas, I was pretty surprised at myself for asking for a book about making Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The premise of the book is quite simple – with the basic recipe and simple techniques it teaches you, you can whip up a batch of bread in about 10 or 15 minutes, and then you are able to just pull off a hunk of dough, shape it, let it rise and bake it when you’re ready. (And that part of the process really does just take about five minutes.) This homemade bread has been such a special staple in our home, and even my German friends who are visiting right now love it! {I wrote a really long post reviewing the book and sending you to Amazon to purchase it right here. This book has MORE than paid for itself — five times over, in six months or so!}
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    {I’m so proud I made this all by myself! What a sense of accomplishment!}

  3. Se7en + 1’s Roast Tomato Sauce : Last month, I finally decided to try the Roast Tomato Sauce Recipe Se7en shared on my blog during the holidays last year. It really was incredibly simple and incredibly tasted. Mixed in with some browned mince meat/ground beef, a few tablespoons of tomato paste and assorted spices (fennel seeds are so magic) this literally made the best spaghetti bolognaise I have ever tasted. I was so proud it came from my kitchen!!
  4. Laundry Detergent : I found a very simple recipe online (are you noticing a pattern here?) for making your own laundry detergent. Reducing the amount of chemicals we use and ‘going more natural’ has become a goal over the years for me — and when I find things like this I get excited! The ingredients are a bar of soap, washing soda and borax, and it just involved grating soap and stirring for a few minutes! If you’d like to see the whole recipe it’s right here. It definitely works out cheaper per load, and has done a great job for me so far!
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  6. Homemade Crafts: In a new place on a bit of a budget, I gave myself the personal goal of coming up with decorating ideas that literally cost me nothing. Getting brave enough to try out a wreath made of old book paper, or hot gluing some twine to the top of jars I’d cleaned out and removed the labels from has encouraged me to just try new things and see how it goes! Thanks to pinterest, you really don’t have to go far to find inspiration!
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    {Hot-gluing some twine onto these repurposed glass jars made adorable vases which added such a sweet detail to our gallery space when I added a little greenery! I am planning to make some more to have at home! Please forgive my terrible photo — the Hubs is a photographer but he did not take this!}

  8. DIY Granola : We eat a lot of granola, so I decided to give making my own a try. It is a bit more on the labor intensive side, so after working with different recipes to find what I really liked, I began doubling it. Right now it is more of a special treat than a weekly task list. But boy, is it good! You can check it out here!
  9. Easy One-Bowl Banana Bread : When I was heavily pregnant with my second child, my first little boy and I were constantly in the kitchen baking. It became a fun activity that we could do together which wasn’t too labour-intensive for me, and kept him happy and interested and busy. This simple banana bread recipe was regularly in the rotation — it only messes up one bowl, doesn’t require a mixer and always seems to come out so well! {I reduce the sugar by about 1/4 cup and it still comes out great!}
  10. Thai Shepherd’s Pie : This recipe has been a favourite in the Collie household for years now. We fed it to our guests Sunday night and they loved it! It is a simple twist on a traditional Shepherd’s Pie, has lots of veggies in it, freezes well and is easily doubled to save you some work later.
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    {It tends to go pretty quick…yum!}

    And the se7en + 1th…

  12. Breadmaker Magic : I was finally convinced to buy a bread maker after reading a post over here at Se7en, and I was so glad I did. (It started acting funny so we brought it back, and I now have store credit to buy a new one — I am just struggling to decide which one to choose!) Focusing on first attempting to go homemade with things that you eat a lot of makes a lot of sense. When we got back to the States my husband — who usually has a very strong stomach — noticed that the store-bought bread here gives him a tummy ache, but when I make it from scratch it never does. I would highly recommend considering the investment — there is nothing like being able to just toss in the ingredients at breakfast time and enjoy a hot fresh loaf of bread at lunch time. {And it is lovely to know it doesn’t have heaps of rubbish in it!}

I think in a nutshell, if you are anything like I was about Se7en years ago, and you’d like to start bringing more homemade goodness into your home, I’d like to encourage you that it’s easier than you think. It’s a one-step-at-a-time, one-day-at-a-time process, that usually just involves a little bit of bravery (remember it’s okay to fail — I tried going no-poo and that totally hasn’t worked yet, but at least I learned I really only need to wash my hair every five days or so!) Get excited about researching and learning something new, and keep hanging around here because I think Mrs. Se7en (who is oh-so fabulous and I’ve had the privilege of spending time with InRealLife!!) will continue to give you more homemade recipes and ideas that you can work up the bravery to try!!

Thanks so much for having me today, Se7en! It’s a privilege!


Thank-you so much Caroline from With Love From Here for your fabulous list and for joining our Celebrity Fun!!!

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