Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Ola to granola!

A number of months ago I found a recipe for delicious and healthy granola bars in House and Home magazine; the recipe came from the Chateau Deli and the Chateau Lake Louise. When I went to make it the other day I was out of rolled oats so I swapped in steel cut oats (which are higher in protien and fibre than regular oats) and quinoa. To be honest, the texture is not quite as nice as with the rolled oats, but it is indeed a healthier alternative.

Here is the is the perfect excuse to visit your local bulk store...and ditch those Nature Valley bars from your cupboard (This Globe and Mail article compares them to chocolate bars, after all!)

3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup canola oil
2 tbsp fancy molasses
3 cups rolled oats (do not use instant oats, but you can sub in some quinoa and/or a different type of oat)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1/4 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup milk powder

- Preheat oven to 375F. Mix oil, honey and molasses together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour liquid over dry ingredients and mix thoroughly
- Press mixture out in a shallow rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
- Allow to cool and cut into squares. I find these best when kept in the freezer.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Another day, another salad

Today I was having a friend for lunch, but the thought of cooking in this heat was too much to handle. So I made an at home salad bar, which is my new go-to for summer guests.

My favourite toppings include:
- Greens (romaine, spinich, arugula....anything goes)
- Steamed veggies (green beans, asparagus)
- Grilled veggies (mushrooms, peppers)
- Cheese (feta and chevre are my faves)
- Nuts (how can you say no to roasted almonds?)
- Roasted beets
- Some kind of grain (Quinoa and wheat berries are my current obsessions)
- Some kind of protien (chicken, fish, and steak are all delish)
- Fruit (Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, pear, apple.....yum!) it with your favourite homemade vinigarette!

What are your favourite salad bar toppings? I am always looking for new ideas to keep it interesting!

Notes: My table cloth is embarassingly wrinkled...but it is a vintage cloth from my Grandma that I love. I was at my friend Erin's tonight and she had an equally vintagey looking one from Anthropologie. Fun....and yes, those damn carnations are still alive! They won't die!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Summer salads

With local Ontario fare on the offer at produce stands right now, who could resist a hearty summer salad?

Here's one I made this weekend that was delicious and satisfying:

- Steamed Ontario asparagus and green beans (do not over-steam..they should still have crunch!
- Cooked wheat berries (more on wheat berries below)
- Roasted beets cut into bite sized pieces (pickled or canned beets would work equally well!!)
- Roasted pecans
- Crumbled or cubed feta
- Vinigarette made with fresh lemon juice and olive oil

This salad is great because nothing will wilt - leftovers will last at least 2 days...but I bet there won't be much leftover! You could also top this with salmon or chicken for added protien.

Background on wheat berries:
Wheat berries are whole, unprocessed wheat kernels that contain all three parts of the grain, including the germ, bran and endosperm (does this make you blush too?).  Only the hull, the inedible outer layer of the grain, has been removed. As a result, wheat berries retain all of the grain's vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. I find them to be a nice alternative to quinoa...they are equally nutty, but bigger and a bit chewy in texture.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Apologies if you saw some family photos posted on my blog which have now disappeared....I have a private blog for family and close friends and I posted a few shots on the wrong please!

The humble carnation

My Grandmother always requested pink carnations....and truthfully I never liked all.

In fact, I quite strongly disliked them.

But I have come around to appreciate the humble carnation. Spared from excess greenery and baby's breath, the blooms take on an almost peony-like appearance, but with impressive longevity. My sister bought me this bouquet for Mother's Day, and it is still going strong! And they are cheap - a full bouquet can be had for $7! That is what I call bang-for-buck!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

New kitchen toy

My newest kitchen toy is an oil sprays your favourite cooking oil like Pam, but is free of all the butane and other chemicals used to create the spray. As well, you end up using much less oil than if you were to pour it out of the bottle.
This was my Mother's Day gift...but don't blame my husband for the unexciting gift; it was exactly what I asked for!
This one is made by Cuisinpro and is available at IQ Living on the Danforth.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

City living

Like many city-dwellers, we have a small back postage-stamp small. So I am always looking for activities that don't take a lot a space. This water table is smaller than your average plastic pool. It is intended for kids to stand and play in the water with their hands, but my daughter uses it as a personal jaccuzzi. It keeps her occupied for hours in the summer. Bliss!

Friday, 18 May 2012

buyin' and sellin'

My husband is away for a few days, so last night the kids and I headed to the Chalet Swiss for some family friendly grub. The Goodwill is conveniently located next door, so we couldn't resist popping in.

I scored this Pottery Barn Kids rug for $15 (retails for $166 new)!!! It's in perfect condition. I don't need it, and don't even plan to use just seemed like too good a deal to pass up, so I'm going to list it on Craigs List and see if I can make a few pennies for the "paint the house" fund! Don't judge....I'm on mat leave!

UPDATE: Sold for $80 2 days after posting it on Craig's List! Woo hoo!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Kid row

Yet another baby/kid store has opened on the Danforth. Jet Baby carries the coolest stuff (Beatles and Bob Marley t-shirts included!) and has a 'deal of the day'. Yesterday I scored this great Hatley sun hat for my daughter for $16.99!

Here is a summary of my favourite Danforth stores for babies and kids from West to East:
Ladida (has great stuff for adults too!)
Fab Baby Gear (They also have an Ottawa location)
Jet Baby (they also have an Oakville location)
Treasure Island Toys (Their Crayola construction paper is priced lower than Wal-Mart's!!!)
Silly Goose Kids

We still need something like Moms to be and More, but we're off to a good start!

Good from far, but far from good

For my daughter's birthday party we have rented a multipurpose room at the park clubhouse near our house. It's a great facility, but lacks personality. Last night I whipped up this simple construction paper bunting to add a bit of colour to the room. I think it will go well with our 'sports' theme. I have no patience, so the flags are not all the same size and many of the edges are jagged....I'll just have to hang it extra high so no one notices!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Home, sweet home

This afternoon I accompanied my sister to put an offer on her first house, and she got it! It is on a curvy, quiet, tree-lined street in midtown Toronto, close to a TTC station. The most incredible feature is the ravine view. Lounging in the backyard listening to the trickle of the stream below, it is hard to believe you're a short stroll from the hustle and bustle of Yonge street.

I can't wait to start trolling Craigs List for pieces to furnish her new digs!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Orange sherbet Canadiana

I have long had a soft spot for vintage Canadiana point blankets. Sure,
...they are itchy
...not particularly cozy
...and I would never want to be stuck alone in a cold room with one
...but I love their bright colours and sense of history.

Last night I picked up this orange sherbert-hued blanket at my local Goodwill for $5. It will serve as an accent piece in our guest room. I think it nicely highlights the orange in the Missoni Home duvet cover I found at Winners (which looks like technicolour tropical Skittles....luv).

The point blanket needs a good soak in Oxy clean and I need to re-do the satin trim (!!!) which is showing wear and tear, but otherwise it is in decent condition.

I don't think it will ever be depended on for cozy comfort, but as an accent piece it fits the bill perfectly!

(PS excuse the poor photos --this room gets nooo natural light, so I had the overhead lights on).

Thursday, 10 May 2012


I took the picture above on a walk through Riverdale this morning. Would you believe this is turf? I have noticed a handful of houses our neighborhood with turf. It looks very much like real grass and is arguably better for the environment than grass, with no watering or fertilizer required.

Like Janice, we have had a lot of trouble growing grass in our back yard. This year we are trying a grass seed made for shade, but if it doesn't work I am intrigued by the idea of turf...our back yard is the size of a postage stamp, so it can't be that expensive, right?

Has anyone had an experience with turf? I'm digging it!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Cards from the heart

For occassions like Mother's Day, I have my daughter make cards. I buy blank cards at Michaels or Staples, and we personalize them for birthdays, Christmas, or whatever the occassion may be. This way I am never scrambling for a card at the last minute! Who doesn't like receiving a homemade card decorated with colourful scribbles, right??

Monday, 7 May 2012

Better burgers

Do you ever wonder what our generation does that we'll look back on incredulously? When I was a child there were always more kids than seat belts stuffed into cars, and more often than not whomever was driving was smoking. No parent would do this today unless they wanted a visit from CAS! Sometimes I wonder if we'll look back on meat eating this way.

I am not a vegetarian, but I do look for ways to reduce the amout of meat my family eats. One of my favourite tricks is for making delicious hamburgers. I use half meat and half minced mushrooms. If you use a food processor to mince the mushrooms, they take on a ground-meat like quality. The result is burgers that are moist, flavourful, and about half the calories of a regular patty...who doesn't like that?

Happy grilling!

PS: In past I have considered just buying vegetarian patties, but they are often higher in fat than meat patties....crazy but true.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Preserving perfect moments in time

Every day the weather is getting nicer and the kids are getting a bit more independant. My job as their Mom feels easier. Freezies, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk are all we seem to need in the summer. Bliss.

This afternoon we wandered out for a coffee and ended up perusing the toy store. I was feeling particularly nostalgic, so I picked up some blocks of colourful clay to preserve the little hands and feet that keep me company all day.

These ornaments will be finished off with some brightly coloured ribbon from Mokuba and will adorn doors in our house, always reminding me of my little munchkins.

PS: The clay I bought is called Sculpey and is similar to one I had as a kid called FIMO. It bakes in the oven in 15 mins. Easy peasy. These make cheap and cheerful Christmas ornaments - great gifts for Grandparents!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Spring snowballs

I recently rearranged the furniture in our living room

.....which meant that the placement of artwork had to change

...and while we were moving the art work, I decided that what was 3 photos should become a gallery wall of 6 images

.....and then I decided to swap the living room and dining room carpets.

Insane? Yes....this is my brain on maternity leave. The good news is that my husband exercises monumental patience and did a perfect job hanging the photos. They are all from a trip we took to Tofino, BC a number of years ago; I love art work that reminds me of something special and sentimental.

Do you have projects like this that snowball?

Gallery wall notes:

As per usual, I used Ikea's Ribba frames. They fit the bill from a price perspective, but they do have a few drawbacks. The hanging mechanisms for the larger sizes are difficult to match across multiple frames. As well, because Ikea frames aren't the pinacle of quality, they are often not identically sized and have some bowing to them. This makes a gallery wall very difficult to make look absolutely semetrical.

I had the prints done at Costco. I was able to upload the images online and the prints were ready a mere hours later. The prints were about $3 each....a steal!