Sunday, November 15, 2015

Dining Room - Curio Cabinet

We finally found the perfect curio cabinet, so it's high time I show off a few photos! Here's my dining room, all decked out for fall:
Since this is really all about the curio, I'll post more photos of the shelves tomorrow. I am really excited about this room though - it's the one that feels the most "done" in terms of decorating. Not like it's really done though - as you can see, a box still remains in one corner and there's little on the walls beside the two shelves. One thing at a time. First, the curio:

The top shelf houses my Royal Doulton dolls:

On the second shelf, I have the gorgeous glass dish mom bought us as a house-warming gift, a piano salt and pepper shaker set from my great-grandmother and a cruet / shot glass set (from a second hand shop) on a silver tray from my gramma:

On the third shelf I have a pitcher and glass set from my grandma (on a vintage mirrored tray), a miniature enameled spoon set (my gramma bought for me at a vintage fair), a (new to me) vintage teacup and saucer and my dried wedding bouquet in its vase:
I absolutely adore this teacup / tea bowl! The ones without handles are my favourite!

Lastly, on the bottom of the cabinet, I have an assortment of glassware:
A few vases (the largest from my neighbour in Hamilton, the other 2 from Pat's grandma), some stemmed glasses (the tall ones a wedding gift from Pat's uncle, the turquoise ones from my sister-in-law and the short ones from my grandma) and a silver-lacquered rose bowl (from my gramma).

I'm sure this cabinet will be continually modified until I'm completely satisfied, but I'm pretty happy with it as is! A perfect addition to our dining room!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Lists of 10

Everyone loves lists, right?

10 of my favourite things (at this moment):

  1. drink: tea (especially forever nuts from David's Tea)
  2. food: Middle Eastern (had lunch at Paramount today: hummus, pita, fattoush, shwarma, kofta.. yum!)
  3. alcohol: white wine (gin if it's harder liquor)
  4. author: Haruki Murakami
  5. music: The Arcs
  6. magazine: Bon Appetit
  7. colour: forest or olive green (& burgundy... I love them both equally!)
  8. metal: copper
  9. season: fall
  10. outfit: skinny pants (green or burgundy) & my white, patterned tunic / blouse

10 of my favourite people (in no particular order... kinda):

  1. Pat
  2. gramma
  3. mom & dad
  4. my parents-in-law
  5. Matt & John (anyone who knows my brothers knows why they're combined here)
  6. my sisters-in-law & brother-in-law 
  7. my niece & nephews
  8. our extended family
  9. my co-workers (most of them)
  10. my manager & (most of) the doctors I work with
10 of my favourite books:
  1. 1Q84 - Haruki Murakami (& everything else he's written)
  2. Queen of the Damned - Anne Rice (& everything else she's written)
  3. The Emperor of all Maladies - Siddhartha Mukherjee
  4. The 100-Year-Old Man who Climbed out the Window & Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson
  5. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon (& the rest of the series)
  6. The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett & everything else he's written)
  7. River God - Wilbur Smith (& everything else he's written)
  8. The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
  9. The Sisters Brothers - Patrick DeWitt
  10. A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin (& the rest of the series)
10 more books I really loved:
  1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot
  2. Naoko - Keigo Higashino
  3. In the Orchard, the Swallows - Peter Hobbs
  4. Ru - Kim Thuy
  5. The Good Man Jesus & the Scoundrel Christ - Philip Pullman
  6. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
  7. Elizabeth is Missing - Emma Healey
  8. A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
  9. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
  10. Labyrinth - Kate Mosse
There are so many other books I could list - but I'll restrain myself to these 20 I spotted on my shelf!

10 favourite home-made dishes: 
  1. macaroni & cheese
  2. enchiladas (chicken &/or beef)
  3. chicken & dumplings
  4. French onion soup
  5. chicken rice/grains/lentil soup (with home-made chicken broth)
  6. "sausage stuff" ("la giblotte" - a sausage & tomato stew on rice)
  7. lasagne
  8. pork tenderloin, 2 ways: baked with grainy mustard or marinated & stir-fried with udon noodles & napa cabbage
  9. quinoa salad
  10. veggie pasta with simple lemony non-sauce
What are 10 of your favourite things?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Halloween 2015

Here's a little recap of the first Halloween in our new house!

First thing we did was carve our pumpkins! I went with a fun, cute and easy design - Pat decided to be ambitious. His "stencil" stage came out a bit wonky, which was disappointing for him since he carved it really well. Can you tell it's supposed to be a monster head?

Once those were done and on the porch, I decorated the entrance and set up the candy station. Things started rolling around 6:15 - which I thought was a bit late, so I didn't expect too many kids. But things picked up and we had 132 visitors by the end of the night (around 8:30, just when it was starting to rain a bit). We actually ran out of candy - I was very generous with the first few dozen kids, then slowly started reducing the number of pieces I gave out. We ran out at around the 115 mark, so Pat raided his office "stash" and we gave out fruit snacks and Gushers. Once those ran out, I handed out a few granola bars... Haha, better than nothing, right?

Of course I semi-dressed up (actually, not really "of course" since I'm not really that into dressing up, hence the "semi" - but I made this costume a few years ago and never had the chance to wear it again, so why not?). I clipped on my bat ears and tied on my homemade wings (sorry, no picture of those, though I did blog about them when I made them back in Hamilton... in 2010. Holy crap time flies!).

After the trick-or-treating, I poured myself a glass of wine and roasted our pumpkin seeds. As per my mom's recipe, I cleaned them well and then sauted them with lots (LOTS) of butter and salt. Then I roasted them for about 15min until they were nice and toasty and crunchy. YUM!

All in all, it was a really fun night! How was your Halloween?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

What I've Been Eating Lately

I don't think it's any surprise that I love cooking. I've made a few stellar dishes lately that I couldn't help taking photos of, so I though it would be appropriate that I share.

First, here's a one-off. Something I would make again, but is totally an "occasion" dish. I made this caramelized honey nut and seed tart for Thanksgiving:
I followed this Bon Appetit recipe. It was amazing! It was very rich and reminded me of a nutty granola bar. I want to make it again soon - if only we had the occasion for it! Maybe Christmas?

Since winter is coming, we've been craving comfort food hard. French onion soup is one dish that Pat especially loves but feels pretty decadent - something you'd order at a nice restaurant and that's about it. I've made it once or twice before, and it's actually pretty easy! There's no reason not to give it a more regular rotation in our winter menus. It has a short list of ingredients and the time invested is totally worth it!
I mostly followed the Smitten Kitchen's recipe, but when I added the broth I found it to be a bit sparse in the onion department. So I quickly sliced 3 more onions and sauted them until soft. I added them in and also included a pinch of fresh thyme sprigs for the last 15min of simmering (fishing the sprigs out before serving). This was absolutely wonderful!

Now I'm going to share two of my favourite quick dinners - I always make enough to have leftovers for lunch the next day.

First is my version of a grains and roasted veggies bowl:
Here's the step-by-step:

1. Roast your favourite veggies. This time, I cubed potatoes, carrots, parsnips and red onion, tossing them with olive oil, salt, pepper and Italian herbs, and roasted them for 30-40min at 450F, until they were soft.

2. Meanwhile, cook the grains. This time I mixed quinoa, farro and kashi (2:1:1). Try to choose grains with similar cooking times or cook them separately (or add one at a time). I usually cook my grains in chicken broth to give them a bit more flavour. Cook until all liquid is absorbed.

3. Mixed cooked grains and roasted veggies. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

This makes a great leftover lunch. I usually eat the leftovers cold, but since the flavours are a bit dulled when chilled, I add a touch more acidity (lemon juice) in the morning when I'm packing it all up.

Lastly, here's a version of my quick and easy pasta dish (that I actually made for dinner tonight):
When I'm feeling lazy (or my fridge is getting sparse), I make a variation of this pasta dish. Use whatever veggies (fresh or jarred or canned) you have on hand.

1. Cook pasta.

2. When there's only a few minutes left for the pasta, add broccoli (florets plus the peeled and sliced stems) to the simmering water.

3. Meanwhile, saute half of a sliced onion and two chopped garlic cloves in plenty of olive oil, until soft.

4. Slice approximately one and a half roasted red pepper (out of a jar - whatever I had leftover from a previous dish), reserving liquid. Similarly, chop a jar of artichoke hearts (almost full, like the peppers), reserving juice.

5. Drain pasta and broccoli and return to pan. Add onion, garlic, peppers and artichoke.

6. Add a couple of tablespoons of each of the reserved liquids (peppers and artichoke) and olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Add in the leaves of 4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme.

I was so pleased with how this turned out! I'll probably sprinkle this with a touch more lemon juice tomorrow morning before heading to work since I'll likely eat this cold, just like the grains. There's nothing better than a two-meals-for-one supper!

What have you been cooking lately?

Monday, October 19, 2015

The New Homestead

My parents are building a new home! Since we only travel North every couple of months, it's really quite exciting to see all the progress that has taken place since we last visited. Last time we were up in the summer, there was only a driveway with a cleared area at the end. Now take a look:
These are from the front with the driveway at my back (you can see the large meadow behind the soon-to-be house). My parents are standing at the garage side. The cement has been poured and the basement is rising!

Here's a look from the meadow:
That last one is taken from the other side of the meadow, near the entrance of the forest trails (to be more accurate: in the pet cemetery... RIP Buster). You can see the hut that will house the generators and batteries required for the solar panels. My dad has decided that they are going completely off the grid. This fortuitously placed meadow is perfect for a panel big enough to sustain a home.
This is the view (to the right - the driveway is on the left) from the soon-to-be front porch. The fall colours are simply amazing this year!

Now for my favourite photo of the bunch - the aforementioned driveway (as seen from the house):
How peaceful is that? Don't you just want to take a stroll??!

I can't wait to see what the place will look like next time we are up (at Christmas)!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Autumn Display

Here is a very small peek at the gorgeous fall colours we enjoyed on our trip North last weekend for a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with family. I only took a smattering of photos with my phone - instead, I sat back and breathed it all in. It was wonderful!
Now if only the true vibrancy of the leaves could be conveyed in photographic form! I'm telling you, it was so much brighter and breathtaking than these reveal. Driving through the Muskokas in the fall should be on everyone's bucket list!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Our First Snow

It's snowed / hailed this morning (however briefly)!
It only lasted about 10 minutes and stuck around for even less long, but down it fell! Winter is definitely on its way. I can't complain though - I'm thoroughly enjoying the cooler temperature and gorgeous fall colours. The trees are just starting to change here, but we had quite the colourful treat on our way North for Thanksgiving last weekend. I'll post some of those photos tomorrow!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fall Decor

It's almost fall! Autumn is definitely my favourite season. After months of hot weather, the cooler temperatures of fall are more than welcome! And then there are the wonderful scents, the pumpkin spice flavoured everything and stunning fall colours - it just couldn't get any better!

I haven't yet pulled out my "fall decor" box, but here are a few new things I've picked up so far:
I LOVE fall gourds and pumpkins - I can never resist picking them up at the grocery store! That gorgeous copper lantern comes from Shopper's Drug Mart, of all places. A perfect addition to my autumn collection!

I'll be digging into our under-the-stairs storage for my older fall decor soon - first, though, my new curio cabinet will be delivered (Thursday) so that I can clear and organize some space!

Continuing with the fall theme though, yesterday, while Pat was out golfing, I made a delicious chicken barley soup:
I love making broth from scratch! It's so easy! This time (it's never the same), I boiled together a chicken carcass (only the breasts were missing from Thursday's dinner), an onion, the tops from six carrots and the core of a napa cabbage. After about an hour and a bit, I strained the broth and cleaned the chicken carcass, adding back in the edible chicken. Then I added barley, lentils, kasha and brown rice; celery, carrots and onion, chopped. A bit of seasoning (lots of salt) finished it off for a very delicious soup. I'm looking forward to lunch leftovers tomorrow! 

What are some of your favourite fall recipes and decor?