Sunday, May 31, 2009

RBG Weekend

My mom came down for a visit this weekend - we planned on going to the Royal Botanical Gardens since she's never been. Initially, my little brother or sister-in-law were going to go with her, but it didn't work out for either one of them to come - so she came alone.

Or so I thought. It was a great surprise when my dad walked off the elevator after my mom! Him and Pat didn't come to the Gardens with us (they went to a computer store instead) but it was still nice to visit with him too.
Mom and I had a great time at the RBG - and really great weather. Unfortunately, the lilacs weren't as nice as the previous weekend but there was still much to see.First we went to the Arboretum - where the lilac dell, dogwoods, rhododendrons & many nature trails are located. We started out strolling through the dell, savoring the scent of the lilacs.We were awed by the beauty of this Katsura tree:We hiked a trail through somes woods and along the waterfront (of Cootes Paradise). There were a ton of semi-tame chipmunks with full cheeks (it was a busy weekend & there were troops of girl guides camping). Naturally my mom spotted a garter snake sunning itself on a log after I reassured her I hadn't seen any last time I was there. She ran on while I tried to snap its picture - but he was too quick for me!
Near the end of the trail we came across a regular looking bush... but upon closer inspection we saw that a vine was intertwined within the bush - and these lovely tendrils of flowers were hanging in abundance behind the foliage. We felt like we were the first to discover something special. Once we came to the end of the trail, we headed back to the bus - and walked through a grove of pretty rhododendron:The bus took us to the Rock Gardens, where we had a quick bite to eat at the teahouse. Even though the tulips were dying and the annuals weren't yet planted, my mom found the Rock Gardens even more lovely than the lilac dell.There really is a nice serene quality to this garden, with trickling water and lots of levels to explore. I even saw a large groundhog run across the path and into the bushes!The peonies were just starting to bloom:I loved the sun on this fern:After we finished the Rock Garden, we realized it would be an hour before the next bus arrived to take us to another garden. So we decided to call it a day and go to IKEA instead. We called our chauffeurs and waited under this beautiful tree:It was a really great weekend! Saturday night we had hot oil fondue - with homemade spring rolls, marinated steaks, spicy chicken & vegetable tempura. And I made a yummy strawberry rhubarb cake for dessert.

They left this morning after stopping by again quickly. The weekend was too short, but it was a lot of fun. I'm really glad both my parents made the trip down!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Item of the day: Handwoven Ribbon Scarf

The past 2 days have been chilly - I've definitely needed a scarf with coat to keep the wind off my neck. I came across these lovely handwoven ribbon scarves by janetexcat while browsing shops in the "Hamilton" area - aren't they beautiful? I couldn't decide between the Orchid Room:And Spring Pools:So I'm showing you both. Which is your favourite?

Monday, May 25, 2009

What I've been working on...

The MSOE (Mad Scientists of Etsy) team challenge this month is ornithology. I wanted to do something a little different this month (as most months since it is a challenge) - so I went with a cross-stitch. I had a bird outline I drew for an old ACEO that I based this on, and free-handed it from there. I find the wing a little wonky ... but it isn't too bad. I love the sky lines. Next I stitched in a bright yellow "soar" and curlicue. I wanted to frame it in the embroidery hoop I used to make it - but I couldn't leave the back plain. So I covered the back with some irresistible bird fabric.I'm really happy with how it turned out. And since I have another hoop in this size, I'm planning on making a second version - different colours and a slightly tweaked bird wing. You'll be able to find this piece in my shop real soon - I just need to trim and seal the fabric edges and take some better pictures.

My Favourite Salad, v.2.0

So I have this little bottle for shaking salad dressings in, and it comes with a few different recipes around the side. One of them is for a creamy raspberry tarragon vinaigrette. I was serving a fairly spicy dish yesterday, so I thought the creamy dressing would go well. And did it ever! Pat said he preferred this one over the first version, but for me, it would depend on what I'm eating with it.

Creamy Tarragon Raspberry Vinaigrette


1/3 cup mayo
1/3 cup raspberry vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp tarragon
1 tsp sugar (or more if you prefer)
salt & pepper to taste


1. Mix all ingredients. Serve over a green salad.

My salad had strawberries (a must), tomatoes (not my favourite flavour combination with the raspberries, but good with the creamy dressing) and onion... I would definitely have preferred to add in leek (though the onion is fine) and radish, but we work with what we have!

Here's the dish I served with the salad - chicken cooked in beer and a spicy lemon salsa. SO yummy! The lemon salsa was homemade by the same man who made the raspberry vinegar - I love our little farmer's market!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My (latest) Favourite Salad

I love salad. I'm lazy though, so if I can't put it together quickly, I'm not going to bother. It's much easier ordering one at a restaurant - or buying veggies that are already cut up. I've been trying to clean and cut up all my veggies as soon as I get home from the grocery store, but it doesn't always happen.

It's taken a few tries to perfect the combination of veggies in this mixed green salad, but something still wasn't right with a simple vinaigrette... finding a homemade raspberry vinegar (and fresh strawberries) at the Market yesterday sealed the deal. This salad has everything now - sweetness, zing, tang and crunch! Even Pat, my resident carnivore, liked it!

Strawberry & Radish Mixed Green Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette


large bowlful of mixed greens, romaine and other lettuces
6 - 8 radishes, chopped
2 leeks, chopped (with ~1 tsp reserved for dressing)
4 large (or 6 small) strawberries, chopped
generous 1/4 sunflower seeds

1/3 cup peanut (or vegetable) oil
3 tbsp raspberry vinegar
1 tsp minced leek
1/4 tsp each sugar, salt, pepper, tarragon & basil


1. Shred & chop veggies. Mix together in a large bowl.

2. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings as you prefer.

3. Pour dressing over salad and serve.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


You may have a hectic weekend ahead - but stop. Take a few minutes to just relax and breathe.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend my American friends!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Item of the day: Blue Birds

I'm constantly on the lookout for unique and original bird art pieces to add to my wall-art-collection (even though it's getting a little full). I really like the 3D nature of abigailbrown's pieces.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Item of the day: Vintage Book Art

I'm a bibliophile. I love reading and I love books. I've always wanted to alter a vintage book, and these gorgeous prints by papersparrow are wonderful inspiration!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Recipe: Grandma's Mustard Cream Sauce

This cream sauce is so simple and so good! Smother some crisp green beans in this and watch them disappear - you'll always be wishing you'd bought more! Plus, once you get the base cream sauce down (and it's pretty simple), you can modify the sauce to suite your taste! Try substituting the mustard and onion powder for fresh fine herbs or a bit of lemon zest and thyme or dill.

Grandma's Mustard Cream Sauce


2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
dash pepper
1 cup milk
2 tbsp mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder


1. Melt the butter over medium-low in a small sauce pan.

2. Blend in flour, salt and pepper. I love my mini whisk for this! It will be a thick paste. Let it cook for a minute or so, just to help thicken it a bit.

3. Gradually stir in milk, then the mustard and onion powder. My grandma's original recipe calls for 1 tbsp of mustard but I really like mustard. I added in 3 tbsp plus 1 tbsp of Dijon last time I made it and it still wasn't too mustard-y.... so taste and adjust to your likes.

4. Stir until thickened. It might take a little while, but don't be tempted to turn up the heat to speed it up - you don't want to burn it!

Serve over green beans - or any vegetables you like! I've had this seep onto potatoes, corn and carrots and they were all delicious - but you can't beat the green beans!Let me know if you try out any different herb/flavour combinations!


Every so often, I get the urge to create a treasury. Of course, it isn't always open, but the poster sketch is! Check out what I put together this morning. I'm calling it "Breathe."

Inspired by the first print and the shirt I'm wearing today (the kimono top by vivatveritas7). Of course, I had one extra alternate, but this is how they fit on my blog page. Click on each photo to check out each listing.

Item of the day: Take Five Heart

I found ExpeditionD by browsing through the treasuries - I just love the colour and texture of this heart pendant:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Item of the day: Mosaic Ring

These mosaic rings by JewelerJim are just stunning. Actually, all of his pieces are absolutely breath-taking - just look at this hummingbird!What's your favourite JewelerJim piece?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Item of the day: Recycled Envelope Book

I love notebooks. I have at least 4 or 5 of them, each with a different purpose.

I also love the neat patterns inside security envelopes - I use them in my art often (see this Mailed to You piece).

So of course, I was bound to be enchanted when these two loves merged - into this envelope notebook by OliveArt.