Saturday, 30 June 2012

Oh Canada!

Happy Canada Day!

On this Canada Day, I am particularly grateful for Canadian maternity leave policy. I am in month 10 of my second maternity leave, and it is oh so decadent to get this opportunity to nurture my babies.
I hope you enjoy your Canada Day!

The urge to purge

Perhaps it is because at this time last year I was very pregnant and was nesting like crazy....

Perhaps it is because we have a street sale in the fall and I want to be a seller this year, not just a buyer....

For the street sale...why did I ever have 4 ice trays, anyways??
Either way, I suddenly have the urge to purge. I am diligently going through every cupboard and drawer in the house and tossing anything I don't use regularly or have a special affinity for (such as Grandma's vintage table linens..they are not going anywhere!). My goal is to not have any overstuffed drawers/ stretch goal is to have an empty drawer/shelf in every room. I have been at it for 3 days so far. Outstanding rooms include the office, my son's room, and the basement. I am getting more aggressive as I go. I'm on a rampage. I told my husband that if he gets caught in my path, he might be the next item to go...just kidding. He's a keeper.

I am making a number of piles:
- For the Goodwill
- For Nellie's (a nearby women's shelter)
- For the street sale
- For my sister (who has a new house to fill!!)
- For friends who are having a baby (it's still a secret!!!!)

Mat leave collecting

Over my two maternity leaves I have collected a number of second hand matching Pottery Barn silver pieces. 

I bought the nut bowl, tray, cake tier, ice bucket, and coaster on Craigs List during my first maternity leave. The seller had fallen madly in love with a gent living in Dubai, and after only seeing him twice, was liquidating her life in Canada and moving to be with him. BOLD MOVE!

Then, a few weeks ago I saw Shannon's post about the street sale she was preparing for. One of her photos featured a fruit bowl that matched my set! Shannon had found it at the Goodwill and was now selling it. Of course I emailed Shannon and scooped it up before any hungry garage sale buyers could get it!

It took me a month to actually get over to Shannon's to pick it up, but it is now sitting comfortably in our kitchen full of the most delicious cherries I've ever had. Isn't there something decadent about eating cherries out of a silver bowl?

Unfortunately my photos are not great...too much bling to control!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

The last supper

As I blogged about here and here, during my maternity leave I have been participating in a food share with two other nearby mat leave mamas, Kate and Julie. Every Wednesday one of us was responsible for giving a family meal to each of the other two a result, we each only had to cook once every three Wednesdays. GENIUS! It worked brilliantly - the rules were simply to cook wholesome, inexpensive meals.

With summer vacations and wonky schedules upon us, we have ended our little food share and last night we had our last meal from Julie: a delicious and refreshing tomato cucumber gazpacho with grilled chicken and whole wheat baguette.

Our food share is one of the things I've been so grateful for on this maternity leave. It has inspired me to cook new recipes and given me the opportunity to enjoy meals from two other amazing chefs.

Food share, RIP! You were fantastic while you lasted!

UPDATE: Julie sent me the recipe from Martha Stewart Everyday Food!!

Tomato Gazpacho with Chicken
serves 4 • active time: 20 min • total time: 20 min + chilling

2 1/2 pounds tomatoes, quartered
1 small piece stale bread, crust removed, torn (1/4 cup)
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 English cucumber, cut into pieces
1 serrano chile, seeded
1 clove garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
salt and pepper
reserved chicken breasts, shredded

1 In batches, in a blender, puree tomatoes, bread, and 4 tablespoons oil. Add cucumber, chile, garlic, and vinegar to taste; blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate at least 4 hours (or up to 2 days).

2 Divide soup among four bowls, top with chicken, drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and serve.

per serv: 384 cal; 21 g fat (4 g sat fat); 30 g protein; 20 g carb; 4 g fiber

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Cottage Life

We have just returned from two nights at my Aunt and Uncle's cottage on Crane Lake near MacTier. It was chilly, so I had lots of time to photograph all the Muskoka-esque details of their gorgeous cottage!

Friday find

Every Friday everything is 50% off at my local Goodwill.

Last week I found this sunny little marbled plastic table for $7.07....minus 50%! Start the car!

Now I just need to find time to use this cosy little reading nook in our bedroom!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Housewarming gnomes

When we moved into our current house, my sister and her boyfriend left a pair of kitchy gnomes sitting comfortably in our front garden as a funny housewarming gift/trick. This morning we left these same gnomes in the garden at their new house....revenge! ....I think I'm going to miss these little guys!

Bright blooms

This morning we were went to my visit my sister at her new house. We didn't have time to pick up flowers, so I helped my 3 year old make her own. I cut the shapes, and she coloured them and poked them on to multi-coloured pipe cleaners. They were a hit!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A novel dessert

My Dad is coming to visit from Vancouver tomorrow. He is an avid reader, and recently commented to my Mom that the characters in his books are always ordering Key Lime Pie, but he has never actually tried the dessert himself. So in honour of his arrival I made him a Key Lime Pie today....but I didn't have key limes, so I guess it's just a lime pie. It is cooling now, so I'll post some 'final' pictures tomorrow!

The recipe came from the "Ask a Chef" column in House and Home magazine, which finds restaurant recipes upon the request of readers. The original recipe is from the restaurant E11even in Toronto. It is super easy, and super refreshing.

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
5 egg yolks
1 can sweetened, condensed milk
120 mL lime juice (I also add some lime zest for extra zing!)
Fresh whipped cream, to serve (optional)

1. Preheat over to 375 F
2. Combine graham cracker crumbs and milted butter. Press firmly into pie plate
3. Combine sweetened, condesnsed milk and egg yolks, whisking together. Whistk in lime juice unitl smooth.
4. Pour mixture into pie crust and bake until set, about 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Let cool, then refrigerate at least 3 hours. Garnish with freshly whipped cream and serve.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Birthday party bust!

Saturday was my daughter's 3rd birthday party and although I think the kids had a good time, it was a bit of a disaster on my end.

First, the City never showed up to open the facility I had booked (Withrow House Clubhouse) so I had to beg a random city worker to let me in.

Then, the Sportball coach that was supposed to facilitate an activity for the kids didn't show up!

...and would you believe I double confirmed both of these contracts in the preceding week?

I am spending this week with my Mom, who is the hands-down expert at writing angry letters. I am in training!

UPDATE: One of the founders of Sportball called me tonight. She was extremely appologetic and backed up her words with swift action.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


My mom is arriving from Vancouver this afternoon. I had grand plans for a perfectly clean house and a gorgeous meal on the table upon her arrival, but it ain't in the cards, my friends! My son has come down with HFMD (the benign sounding acronym for hand foot and mouth disease!), so he's been up all night, not napping well during the day, and just generally fussy and needy.

So I've opted for an easy dinner of pizza with lots of fresh veggies. I use plain tomato paste for sauce since it's packed with lychopene, which is great for fighting cancer (there is a lot of cancer in both my Mom and Dad's families, so I try to eat of lot of cooked tomato)....and all the leftover veggies from the pizza will be great in an accompanying spinich salad! Yum!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Loot bags

Oh, loot bags. You are a tougher nut to crack than I expected! How to find items that are in keeping with the party theme, that 3 year olds will like, that parents won't throw out, and aren't prohibitively expensive.....mon dieu!

In the end I decided on:
- A paddle board (those rackets with the elastic cord with a ball attached on the end)...too advanced for 3 year olds?...maybe
- Sports stickers
- A twisty straw
- Lolly pops and pop rock candy
- A bouncy ball
- A sports medal

....all from the Dollar Store, Bulk Barn, and The Party Store.

Monday, 11 June 2012

A Bulk Barn birthday

This weekend was my daughter's birthday, and we celebrated with friends at Lake Simcoe (we're having her real party next weekend).

We had a Dora pinata (15% off at Bulk Barn; start the car!!) and a purple iced cake with creepy Dora faces on them (also courtesy of BB).

The pinata was fun until Dora got decapitated and my daughter burst into tears...ooops - perhaps I should have anticipated that. We did it, we did it, we did it, yeah!

Orchids and squatters

My sister and her boyfriend are living with us until they take posession of their house, and their orchids came to stay with us too. The orchids are healthy and happy with big heavy blooms in electric colours.

My orchid has been dead for over a year, but suddenly started to sprout again when the squatter orchids arrived on the scene.

Do you think my orchid is jealous? Trying to complete? Either way I am hoping my orchid will bloom once again, even if it is only the result of some healthy competition!

Big hairy suprise

Our host at Lake Simcoe has an amazing garden, and somehow everything looks more lush and beautiful by the lake.

Can anyone tell me what this big hairy suprise is called? I'd love one for my garden!

UPDATE: Apparently it's called Prairie Smoke. Thanks Tom! Great name, eh?

S'more please!


We spent the weekend at Lake Simcoe at a friend's parents' home. There were lots of friends, tons of kids, great food, and quality hanging out time. was amazing and chaotic fun. When we travel together, we all take turns making meals, which is such a fun way to live.

Our friend Emily made this amazzzzing s'more tray, which encouraged us all to go beyond the traditional 'graham cracker-chocolate-marshmellow' combo.

It made me think that a "s'more kit" would be a super fun gift  if you were visiting a friend's cottage this summer! Who doesn't love a gourmet s'more?

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Block party

We have awesome neighbors, and so this year we're organizing a summer block party....a chance for all the neighbors to hang out and for the kids to blow bubbles and decorate the sidewalk with colourful chalk. We are going to set up BBQs in our neighbor's driveway and hang out on a stretch of front lawns since we all have small back yards.

Since I don't have email addresses for all our neighbors, I did a paper invitation in addition to my email invite. For the paper invitation, the girls across the street designed this invite which I colour photocopied and dropped in everyone's mail box. Isn't it great? I love kid-art!

Feeding baby

Today was one of the rare days when I had access to our car (my husband took my sister's car to work), so I went wild and went to Loblaws..wooohooo! Crazy talk, I know.

I am always looking for creative things to feed my 9 month old that don't result in leftovers that get thrown out. Loblaws is selling these salmon skewers for $2.50....the perfect amount of salmon for a few days worth a meals for the little guy!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Turf wars

As I blogged about here, I have been considering turf for our backyard, where grass has been tough to grow. We're finally having some success with grass - my husband planted a  PC-brand seed that is made for shade. ...but I still have turf on my radar - I passed this house today which has no natural greenery - everything from the grass to the hedge to the topiaries are F-A-K-E! How's that for low-maintenance!!?


My Dad's birthday party was a great success - the rain held off (and the sun was actually shining!), the food was great, and people from all stages of my Dad's life came to celebrate his 65th birthday.

We definitely had too much food though, so we spent the next few days eating our way through all the leftover hamburgers, salmon, salad, and fruit trays. ...and baby just loved playing with all the boxes that appeared around the house as we cleaned up!

We are now back in Toronto; the flight was easy, but the little guy is having some trouble adjusting to the time change! Groan!