Monday, 30 April 2012

Ok, now I think it's done....

I blogged a few weeks ago about finally finishing decorating my daugther's room...well in the end it wasn't quite done. This weekend I added Ikea's Maskros ceiling light fixture. I absolutely love it; I think it perfectly suits the look I was going for in my daughter's room - cheerful, feminine, but not too precious.

Ok, now I think it's done. Finally.

Note: This light does cast some distinct shadows. You can control this effect by hanging it quite high so the shadows are largely on the ceiling, but either way I wouldn't recommend it for an office or task oriented space.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

At the window

My daughter spends a lot of time at our front window, watching the world go by. My mom brought her these sticky jellies to play with. They are great. They keep my daughter occupied which gives me more time to get things done, and they allow her to create new colourful designs every time she uses them.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Looking for a little South Beach in my life

My friend Erin is heading to South Beach tomorrow, (jealous!!!!) and it has me pining for some hot weather and chilly pastel coloured drinks.

Instead, I found this bright planter at Moss on the Danforth, which has sort of a dip dyed look, and I filled it with a cheery miniature palm tree from Ikea. Ikea is my secret source for inexpensive house plants....$12.99 for the palm which I've seen for $19.99 elsewhere. DEAL! That's $7 saved for the trip fund!

The planter coordinates with the pillows I sewed last week, blogged about here.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

A dinner table for toddlers

I have blogged previously about how practical I find it is to have a 'kids table' around the house....colouring, crafting, reading,.....our table gets used by my daughter and her friends all day.

Tonight it is going to be the dinner table for my daughter and her friend Penny. The key components I used to make it kid friendly are:
- One of my Grandma's old card table fits perfectly on a table of this size,
- Appetizer forks/knives at each place setting,
- Plastic 'crystal' glasses, from Red Letter in Yorkville
- A few tulip blooms in a votive holder (the vessel is nice and small so it requires only a few blooms, and if it spills there is minimal water to clean up!)

bon appetit, kiddies!

Seeing the world through rose coloured glass

We are having some friends for dinner tonight, so my daughter and I decided to do something a little different on the table.

We started with PC stemless champagne glasses (as an aside these are one of my favourite products- super cheap, super fun, and they fit in the dishwasher!!! Cheers to that!), filled each one with warm water and a drop of red food colouring, and a perfect tulip bloom from our local fruit market.

I am not sure I looooove it, but my daughter had a ball swirling the colour through the water!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Ji ji ji ji ji jiggggly

My daughter is having a friend for dinner, so we decided to make green Jello Jigglers for dessert...very healthy, indeed. I opted for the regular Jello instead of the sugar-free variety since I'm wary of aspertame (along with fat-free potato chips and Communists).

Good thing these girls are only 2 and won't notice that my shapes are flawed...I had trouble getting the Jello off the bottom of my Pyrex time I might give it the lighest spray of canola oil first (or use a bit less water so they're firmer).

Either way, these are good old fashioned sugary fun.

Here is the recipe I used (from  

- 2 1/2 c. boiling water
- 4 pkg. (4 serving size) or 2 pkg. (8 serving size) Jello gelatin, any flavor
- Stir boiling water into gelatin. Dissolve completely.
- Pour the mixture slowly into 13 x 9 inch pan.
- Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Jigglers will be firm after 1 hour but may be difficult to remove from pan. Dip bottom of pan in warm water for 15 seconds to loosen gelatin.
- Choose a fun shaped cookie cutter. Press the cutter into the Jello and then lift the cutter straight up. Use your fingers to remove jigglers from the pan.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Goodwill go-tos, part II

Lentils? check
Coffee? check
Prunes? check

I can see you all so clearly now!

In addition to the necklace that I bought at the Goodwill on Monday, I also purchased a few more glass canisters. As you can see, I have quite the collection in various styles and sizes. Goodwill is an excellent source for these and the rubber ring can always be replaced at the hardware store to keep things extra fresh.

My new purchases inspired me to purge my pantry cupboard. It feels sooooooo good!

PS: These are typically $0.99 at Goodwill....this makes Ikea seem pricey!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Found storage

We are short on storage in our kitchen. We have little room for all the stuff that isn't required for cooking but still needs to be close at hand, like....

...Zip lock bags
...rubber gloves
...garbage bags
...Swiffer sheets
...vaccum bags
...silver polish

So, upon my Mom's recommendation, my husband installed these cubbies on the inside of the doors of the closet adjacent to the kitchen. This works as long as you have enough clearance once the doors close and is a great way to create more storage space.

Of course I was immediately able to fill them with 'stuff'! Next I need to purge!

(PS, you may be wondering why there are so many dress shirts in our kitchen closet...well the last thing my husband does in the morning is put his work shirt on so it doesn't get marked with baby goo....and it is the first thing he takes off when he gets home!)

Goodwill go-tos

Long, vintage bead necklaces are one of the things that I always troll for at the Goodwill...they come in all sorts of fun colours, are easy to get on and off (good with kids!!!), and the price is always right.

This one was a bit 'pricey' at $4.04, but hey, I was feeling particularly indulgent last night!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

1, 2, 3, 4...

...tell me that you love me more...isn't that Feist song addictive?

After sewing the new pillows for my living room (blogged about here), I was left with a little bit of left over fabric...just enough to make 4 little bean bags that will fit perfectly in a toddler's hand.

Currently my husband and daughter play soccer in the living room; I'm hoping they'll take to tossing these babies instead...not that these can't do damage, but at least there is a lower risk of rebounds smashing my lamps. ...and they match the decor, to boot! (my husband accuses me of sucking the fun out of childhood with such comments, but I can't help it!)

PS: I used beautiful dried white navy beans inside...they look like little perfect little pearls and are just the right size to make a delicate feeling bean bag....not dense or heavy. I seriously writing about bean bags in such detail? Ohhh mat leave, what have you done to my brain?

Friday, 13 April 2012

Fresh From the Farm

Photo from Fresh From the Farm website
 Toronto East-enders take note - Fresh From the Farm is an organic food shop on Donlands between Cosburn and O'Connor. It sells a plethora of organic meats and dairy products, often from Menonite farms, as well as coffee, tea, jams, breads, and fresh produce in the summer.

I must admit that I don't regularly buy organic....I am often unsure how much of the high price tag on organic goods is their true cost versus expensive marketing. But unlike many organic shops, this one is all product and no trendy accoutrements. Their prices are wickedly reasonable and the staff is super knowledgable. 

My first foray into FFTF was upon the recommendation of my friends Kate and Julie for a Christmas turkey - I ordered it by phone and was able to pick it up on Christmas Eve, so it didn't occupy valuable fridge space. Everyone agreed it was among the best turkeys we've ever had. Our Easter ham was equally delectable, as were the burgers we made from FFTF's ground beef.

I am sold on FFTF like a pig in mud! I am going to try their eggs next. Mmmm.

PS: The Leslieville Cheese Shop has opened right across the street....perhaps a foodie corridor is developing!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Botox for my antiques

We inherited a lovely antique dining room set from my Grandparents when we moved into our house a few years ago. While I love the suite, it was feeling a bit 'stuffy' for a young family. I lusted for something a bit younger and hipper, but I didn't have the heart to get rid of this set or to put it under the proverbial knife! It just needed a little pick me up, as we all do from time to time!
In the end I decided to update it with new hardware from Lee Valley Hardware. If you have never visited a Lee Valley store, it is well worth the trip. They have everything from microplanes to fruit fly catchers to very intense wood working tools (think Pinnochio!!).
I looked around a number of different sources for new hardware. Lee Valley had the best selection at the most reasonable prices. Big box stores were suprisingly expensive for not great quality; Restoration Hardware had beautiful pieces at about 3X the price. Lee Valley was just perfect, and located on the TTC to boot!!

PS: I have moved my mercury glass lamps from the living room to the buffet as my baby becomes increasingly grabby and mobile!...I think I like them here!

New ring pulls

Original fixtures

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

inch by inch and row by row, I'm going make my garden grow...

Do you remember doing this when you were a kid?

It is an 'asset-light' activity:
- an egg carton
- some seeds (peas, parsley, basil)
- potting soil
- Japanese washi tape (from Omiyage, blogged about here) and bamboo skewers (optional, obviously!)

What a fun way to learn about how things grow...and it's always good to get your hands a little dirty!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Kale, two ways

I have long been intrigued by kale for its vivid green hue and notable health benefits, but frankly have been a bit timid about cooking with it. ....until the food Gods intervened and presented me with two kale recipes to try my hand at. It was a sign!

For Easter we cooked a ham and were left with a hefty ham bone which I decided I would make a soup from. A few of the recipes I found online suggested adding kale. Then yesterday, I received a kale salad recipe in the newsletter from the Toronto Centre Naturpathic Medicine clinic I visited during my pregnancy.

I made the soup today and am going to try out the salad recipe tomorrow.

Both recipes are below.

Leftover Easter Ham and Kale Soup (adapted from various online recipes)
- Simmer leftover ham bone in a stock pot for about 4 hours
- Remove bone from liquid; place liquid in refrigerator overnight
- Remove fat from top of stock the following morning ( it will be hardened, so can be removed quite easily)
- Reheat stock. Once boiling, add a few handfuls of soup mix (dried lentils, split peas, pearl barley, etc.)
- When soup mix is almost softened, add veggies (I added carrots, celery, green beans, and onion)
- Once vegetables are partially cooked, turn off heat
- Add diced leftover ham, a can of rinsed navy beans, and shredded kale
- Add spices (I added a few shakes of Italian seasoning as well as some fresh rosemary, thyme, and ground pepper)
- Serve with crusty bread! Yum!

Kale salad (from Toronto Centre Naturopathic Medicine clinic April Newsletter)
- Massage coarse sea salt into fresh washed and chopped kale leaves
- Add some extra virgin olive oil, chopped fresh garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper, to taste
- Add some toasted pine nuts, pumpkin or sesame seeds
- Add dried currants, cranberries, or raisins

UPDATE: I made the Kale salad. It was delicious, but raw kale is deffinitely on the bitter, earth side of the spectrum. The pine nuts add a beautiful creaminess, and the cranberries and lemon juice counteract the bitterness. I used non-coarse sea salt and it worked fine. Next I need to try Kale chips! Yum!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Start the car!

I was perusing the "Finds" section of Sarah Richardson's website yesterday, and noticed her post about this graphic linen Kravet fabric, listed at $122.80 a yard. It reminded me that I had bought a remnant of this same fabric at Designer Fabrics on Queen West in Toronto for $5! START THE CAR!! (This is a quote from an Ikea commercial (view here) that my family frequently references when we get a killer in "I got this shirt for 60% off. Start the car!").

Anyways, I had totally forgotten about this fabric, as I bought it mere days before my now 7 month old was born while I was in the depths of crazed nesting...and then my baby was born and I forgot everything that had happened before that point in time.

Seeing the fabric again inspired me to make two cushions for our living room couch on Sunday night, piped and backed with a matching turquoise velvet. I rearanged the living room furniture this weekend and the new cushions finish off the new configuration and add a nice punch of colour!

Did you do anything fun around the house this weekend? Any START THE CAR moments?

Happy Easter!

My Easter centrepiece....the mini eggs didn't last long!!

Friday, 6 April 2012

oh-so-versitile scones

My mom bought me the Joy of Cooking at a garage sale a number of years ago, and it has been a staple in my kitchen ever since. One of my go-tos is the recipe for scones. It is fool-proof. In fact, the spine of the book is broken on the scone recipe page from so much use. I typically add dried apricots, but this morning I added raisins and cinnamon for our picnic with friends at Riverdale farm. Fresh fruit also works (blueberries, for instance), as do savory ingredients like chives, ham, and cheese (just eliminate the sugar).

The secret to making these scones flakey is to use cold butter (refrigerated or frozen) and to ensure the butter stays chunky- you should see flecks of butter throughout the dough - don't mix any more than you have to to form a ball of dough. I usually do triangular scones, but rounds and squares work equally well.

These are delicious on their own, with butter, jam, and of course, the topping of all toppings, devonshire cream! I think even the miniature Kate Middleton would indulge in these babies!

Scone recipe from the Joy of Cooking, copyright 1964
(Yields approx 12 scones)

2 cups of sifted cake flour (or 1 3/4 cups of sifted all-purpose flour)
2 1/4 tsp double-acting baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup butter, cold and cubed into penny-sized pieces
2 eggs
1/3 cup cream (I use 1% milk and it works just fine)

- Sift dry ingredients together
- Add butter and cut into dry ingredients with two forks or a pastry blender, until pieces of butter are pea-sized and distributed throughout
- Mix eggs, reserve a tablespoon of egg mixture for later; mix remaining egg mixture with milk/cream
- Add liquid to dry ingredients and mix as litle as required to form a ball of dough. Also add any additoinal ingredients at this time if you choose to
- Flatten dough to about 1.5 inches thick and cut scones (in whatever shape floats your boat!)
- Place scones on greased cookie sheet
- Brush with reserved egg mixture and sprinkle with salt or sugar
- Bake for approximately 15 minutes at 450 degrees, or until a skewer comes out clean (scones should be just golden brown)

Enjoy warm or at room temperature!

When the forsythia is in bloom, roses you can prune!

When the forsythia is in bloom, roses you can prune. least this is my mother's rule of thumb. Vibrant forcythias (or 'banana trees', as I called them as a kid) are blooming all over the city right now, so I suppose if the saying is correct, it's time to kick off garden season!

This year I need to figure out some plants for the shady side of my garden...any ideas?

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Eastern urns

Brutal pictures indeed (I had a very fussy little boy in the background demanding some attention), but here is what we got up to this afternoon ....alas, my Christmas urn is FINALLY gone! After Easter I will just remove the Easter eggs and keep the pansies and pussy willows!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Cheap and cheerful

As I've blogged about here and here, I am in the midst of planning my 3 year old's birthday party.

We are going with sports theme and I'm using lots of primary colours, so these trays are perfect.

I found them at my local dollar store - they were $1.50 (small) and $2.50 (large) minus 20%.

A STEAL, right? I love the colours and patterns.

I am going to use them to serve the food and drinks (Ceasars and pulled pork sandwiches for the adults, lemonade and pizza for the kids!) to our guests at the party.

Next I have to work on loot bags!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Gallery wall update

I posted a few weeks ago (here) about a vision I had for a gallery wall in the back corner of our bedroom.

Well this weekend we finally got the first set of pictures/art up on the wall, and I am pleased by the way it turned out! All of the credit goes to my husband who is a master at hanging pictures. ...such an asset to have around the house!

To play it safe, I used all of the same type of frames (Ikea Ribba) and kept the distance between each frame at 1.5 inches.

Goodnight Moon, Goodnight room!

This weekend we finally got around to putting the final pictures up in my 2.5 year old daugther's room. I have blogged previously (here) about my love of graphic posters and how I go about framing them. The posters for my daugther's room came from the Vancouver 2010 Olympics - they are sentimental because we brought her to the Olympics when she was only 8 months old.

The room is not perfect:

...the wall colour is not quite what I wanted

...the pictures are too high thanks to the preexisting chair rail,

...I really don't love the mirrored doors I chose for the closets that we built

...and I'm sure a designer would have a seizure when they saw the amount of colour I've packed into this room

...but it was a labour of love and we did all the work ourselves. Most importantly, my daughter loves her room and sleeps soundly and peacefully. ....what more can you ask for!?

Here are a few before pictures!