Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer 2011 Colour Palette

This summer, I'm all about orange, camel & navy. Don't they look luscious together?
This combination just screams HEAT doesn't it? I love orange for that! Camel & soft, almost nude pinks were very trendy this spring & easily extend into the summer. They pair with all colours for an instantly classic look - just steer clear from shades that are similar to your skin tone or you'll look washed out. Whether you're hitting the beach or a late-night cocktail, navy is a perfect substitute for harsh black & just as slimming. It's also a very versatile neutral that will go a long way in your wardrobe.

Bright, neon colours are in this season - not just orange - but be careful not to go overboard. You don't want to look like a clown! Pair one bold shade with dark or light neutrals (and remember: black, brown & white aren't the only neutrals around; try navy, burgundy, grey or other deep shades).
Bright cherry red & lime green are perfect summer colours. They look great paired with charcoal (another great alternative to black), dark blue, camel & light, airy off-whites. Neon nail polish is a particularly fun way to incorporate some colour without breaking the bank.

What colours are you drawn to this summer?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mosaic Monday

It's Mosaic Monday! I hope you'll join us - it's really easy! Just make a photo mosaic - you can use whatever photo editing software you like, or a website such as the mosaic maker & photos from Flickr - & then post it on your blog. Go ahead & pick a theme if you want, but don't feel like you have to. Have fun with it!

Make sure to include a link back to my blog so that everyone can participate. Then come back here & submit a link to your blog post (using the "add your link" button at the bottom). I'll be looking at & commenting on each one!

Here's mine for this week: rain.

Here's the list of mosaics for this week. Once you've blogged, click the button below to add your blog post link.



Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Seven

My Sunday Seven:
  1. Sunday: long weekend = I don't have to worry about getting up early the next day
  2. Monday: coincidental meetings
  3. Tuesday: free walk-in clinics - for peace of mind, if nothing else
  4. Wednesday: custom orders
  5. Thursday: pitted dates
  6. Friday: selling something the minute it's listed
  7. Saturday: shopping at a mall we don't usually go to
What were you thankful for this week?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Recipe: Chocolate Pecan Date Bars

I can't remember when I came across this recipe, but I knew I wanted to try it right away. First, though, I had to modify it a bit since I don't have agave nectar or stevia (a syrup & a sweetener). I also didn't include dried cranberries because I wanted Pat to eat some too.

Here's my version, topped off with a decadent Nutella-chocolate ganache.

Chocolate Pecan Date Bars

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups pecans
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
15 Medjool dates, pitted
1 tbsp vanilla
6 tbsp honey

ganache:
1/3 cup chocolate chips
splash cream
2 tbsp Nutella

Methods:

1. I started out by gathering my ingredients.
I don't usually do this, but I wanted to this time since the methods call for a food processor. I only have a blender & it isn't very powerful, so I did the blending in small batches. Being organized beforehand made the process move along more smoothly.
Can I just say that dates are gross? I mean, they taste delicious, but they look like giant insects.... and the pit inside.... ugh. I don't know how anyone can eat them whole.

2. Lightly toast the pecans.
I did this in the oven, at 400F for a few minutes. You can also toast them in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat. Either way, just make sure to watch them closely so that they don't burn. Once they start smelling fragrant & have a little bit of colour on them, remove them from the heat & let cool.

3. Meanwhile, chop your dates.
If you have a powerful food processor, you may be able to skip this step - or only cut them in 2 or 4 pieces. Make sure they're all pitted though. You can also get away with using other varieties of dates - I used California dates the first time I made them. They're just smaller, so you need more of them & they're less sweet & juicy, so you'll need more honey.

4. Once the pecans are cool, chop them too.
Again, don't if your food processor can handle whole nuts.

5. Mix the pecans, cocoa & brown sugar.
Blend in small batches, aiming for a coarse, almost-powdery texture.
If you blend the nuts too long, you'll end up with pecan butter. While you don't want to go this far for all of it, some clumps here & there are ok.

6. Mix in the chopped dates.
Again, blend in small batches (or process them all at once if you can). This time we're aiming for a coarse, yet still dry, mixture.

7. Mix in the vanilla. Next, stir in the honey, 2 tablespoons at a time, until a thick dough forms. I needed about 6 tbsp for everything to stick together, but you may need more or less, depending on how sticky your dates are & how much pecan butter you make. Corn syrup or other types of syrup might also work here, but you may want to use less sugar if they're extra sweet. Once the dough holds together without crumbling, press it into a parchment paper-lined square pan.
Freeze at least 15 minutes, or until firm.

8. You could certainly stop here, chop up the bar & eat them as is. But I like to top them off with Nutella-chocolate ganache. I only had milk chocolate chips, but semi-sweet turns out much better.
Mix the chocolate chips, cream & Nutella in a microwave-safe bowl & heat on half power in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted.
I expected this to be smoother in texture - I think it had to do with the milk chocolate chips. A bit more chocolate might also do the trick. I'll have to play with it. As is, it's a thick delicious icing.

9. Ice the bar & return to the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
Once firm, pull it out of the pan with the parchment paper overhang.
Cut it into squares & enjoy!
These do get quite soft at room temperature, so I recommend storing them in the freezer. They would probably do fine in the fridge, but they won't last as long. Besides, these taste amazing straight from the freezer!
Now just try not to eat them all at once! Let me know what you think if you try these!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Five

This week was certainly less frantic than the past few have been - it was nice to relax, rest & catch up on some reading. Work was light; I've mostly been concentrating on writing up my thesis & reading more research.

Here's what my week looked like:
  1. Monday was a holiday - Pat & I went for a drive because I needed a few things, but everything ended up being closed. We stopped at a random convenient store on our way back - one we don't usually stop at - & some guy approached Pat. Wouldn't you know it, he was someone Pat grew up with, someone from our tiny home town! And he just moved to Hamilton that weekend! What are the odds!?!
  2. I made smitten kitchen's rhubarb cobbler Monday evening. It was AMAZING with fresh rhubarb from the market. It was gone before I even thought to take pictures of it!
  3. I made this chocolate date bar (again) on Thursday. With only 6 ingredients (plus 3 more for the nutella-chocolate ganache icing), it couldn't be simpler: It was so good last time, I took pictures & kept track of my modifications this time. Expect a recipe real soon!
  4. I finished Philippa Gregory's The White Queen over the weekend & am reading The Red Queen now. Each tells a different side of the War of the Roses - a very neat contrast when read back to back. I also finished a nerdy math book over the weekend - I'll be blogging about that one a bit later.
  5. I've been listing lots of earrings in my jewelry shop. I really love how delicate these are:
Now I need to get back to writing my thesis! I hope everyone has a nice weekend (& long weekend for those of you in the States)!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Denver Trip & Everything in Between

Well.. it certainly has been a while since I personally updated this blog. I haven't talked about my trip to Denver. In fact, I haven't said much since I got back... mostly because I was tired & then sick. Now that I'm feeling better, I thought it would be a good time to catch everyone up!

No pictures though. Sorry. I didn't bring my camera to Denver & haven't picked it up for anything since (except for shooting a custom set of tags this morning). Anyway...

Denver

Saturday: My friend Lindsay & I traveled & stayed together in Denver. So Pat drove us to the Buffalo airport bright & early & we caught our flight at 10:06am. It was a small plane, but I can still count it as my first flight! We had a 45min layover in Detroit & had to RUN all the way across the airport. We made it with about 5min to spare... The flight to Denver was great - we arrived at our hotel downtown early afternoon. It was rainy, but we walked to the Convention Center anyway to get a lay of the land. It was only 8 blocks - with the 16th Street pedestrian mall at the halfway point. We checked into the conference & got an information package to peruse. We had dinner at The Hard Rock Cafe.... & I found a little green caterpillar in her salad!!!! Free dinner & dessert! Welcome to Denver! HA!

Sunday: We went swimming in the hotel pool before an early morning session that was similar in set-up to mine so that I could get an idea of what to expect. We met up with our friend Chris afterwards, checked out some posters & then went out sight-seeing. First we went to the Molly Brown House Museum (as recommended by our awesome Hard Rock waiter), which was really neat! Then we walked through the lovely park around the State Capitol Building before having lunch at the best burger place in Denver (as advertised profusely - of course we had burgers & they were pretty darn good). Lindsay went back to the conference while Chris & I wandered some more. We poked our heads into a cathedral (something was going on, it was full & decorated with balloons), saw a Renaissance Italy art exhibit at the Denver Art Museum - which was DAM good! - & browsed through the Tattered Cover Book Store. Oh what a shop! I could have stayed there all weekend! Afterwards, the three of us met up with Mark (Chris's supervisor), Param (mine) & Jay (a biopharmer - he TAed me & TAed with me) for a really nice dinner.

Monday: My poster discussion is from 8:15-10:45 - I wear the wrong shoes & give myself some major blisters. The first half - the poster viewing - went really well. I met a lot of important people & Param was there to introduce me to a few he knew. The second half is the discussion. Each person is pulled up in groups of 1, 2 or 3, based on topic presented. I go second last, with 2 other girls. We each introduce ourselves & summarize our findings in a brief sentence. One girl gets most of the questions, I get 1 from the facilitator (who had come by & talked to me, so gave me a question I could answer, which was really nice since I was nervous!). Then I'm done! Yay! I went back to the hotel to change shoes, then back to the conference to look at some posters - Lindsay & Chris had theirs up in a large hall all day. We went for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory (SO good!), then Chris & I check out an old map shop advertised in the Tattered Cover Book Store (really neat shop with some really old maps) then we go back to the Capitol Building to check out the inside (gorgeous!). I went back to the hotel to nurse my sore feet. Lindsay showed up later with Eva, someone else we work with. We have a quiet & light dinner (Quiznos takeout in the hotel lobby).

Tuesday: I have sessions all morning: a sunrise session 7-8 & a Meet the Prof 12-1 with posters in between. I also squeezed in a little souvenir shopping. Afterwards, I meet up with Lindsay & Chris at the Denver Zoo. We spend the whole afternoon there - it was awesome! Then we head to dinner organized by Mike, an admin at the Firestone. Mark & Jay are there, as well as Roma (one of my committee members), her co-worker Gail, Subhendu & his wife (we flew to Denver with them, he works with Lindsay) & Myrna, who just won a lifetime achievement award!!

Wednesday: We're ready to go. We both have sunrise sessions at 7 & then go to the Tattered Cover Book Store for a bit before packing & heading to the airport. Our plane is delayed & our layover in Cleveland is 20min... we RUN (again... but harder & faster & with fewer conveyor belts & escalators) & just just make it. We heard our names being called over the PA system & that the plane was ready to go! It took me the whole 40min flight to Buffalo to cool down... Lindsay's boyfriend was there to drive us home. It was SO nice to see Pat & sleep in my own bed!

Home

Thursday & Friday: I slept a good part of the day, reading most of the time I was awake.

Saturday - Monday: Victoria Day long weekend. Pat & I enjoyed the sun on Saturday by going to the park to walk & lounge & read. I was sick - a sore throat/neck/ears...

Tuesday: ...which finally sent me to the clinic in the afternoon. Only to be told I have a cold. I'm still a bit congested now, but feeling better overall.

Besides all that, my Etsy shops have been pretty active (yay!) & I've been busy with research/reading/writing for my thesis. I want to have that finished in the next few weeks!

I hope everyone is having a great last week of May (already!) & that everyone is staying safe from all the crazy weather that's been going on!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mosaic Monday

It's Mosaic Monday! I hope you'll join us - it's really easy! Just make a photo mosaic - you can use whatever photo editing software you like, or a website such as the mosaic maker & photos from Flickr - & then post it on your blog. Go ahead & pick a theme if you want, but don't feel like you have to. Have fun with it!

Make sure to include a link back to my blog so that everyone can participate. Then come back here & submit a link to your blog post (using the "add your link" button at the bottom). I'll be looking at & commenting on each one!

Here's mine for this week: stay-cation (celebrating the long weekend - at home!).

Here's the list of mosaics for this week. Once you've blogged, click the button below to add your blog post link.



Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Seven

My Sunday Seven:
  1. Sunday: The Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver (AMAZING SHOP!)
  2. Monday: my poster presentation went really well
  3. Tuesday: spending the afternoon with my friends at the Denver Zoo
  4. Wednesday: exercise in the Cleveland airport (RUN!)
  5. Thursday: being able to sleep all day
  6. Friday: new books
  7. Saturday: reading in the park, soaking up the sun
What are you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nest

I spotted a nest during my walk at home Easter weekend.
I wonder if the resident home-building birds will be back to fill this nest this summer?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mosaic Monday

It's Mosaic Monday! I hope you'll join us - it's really easy! Just make a photo mosaic - you can use whatever photo editing software you like, or a website such as the mosaic maker & photos from Flickr - & then post it on your blog. Go ahead & pick a theme if you want, but don't feel like you have to. Have fun with it!

Make sure to include a link back to my blog so that everyone can participate. Then come back here & submit a link to your blog post (using the "add your link" button at the bottom). I'll be looking at & commenting on each one!

Here's mine for this week: macro in green.

Here's the list of mosaics for this week. Once you've blogged, click the button below to add your blog post link.



Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Seven

My Sunday Seven:
  1. Sunday: a quiet walk at dusk
  2. Monday: Katherine, for running some ELISAs with me
  3. Tuesday: my tuition support cheque
  4. Wednesday: Mike, for delivering my poster to me on time
  5. Thursday: Dr. Margetts thought my questions were insightful
  6. Friday: t-shirt weather!
  7. Saturday: my first real flight!
What are you thankful for this week?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Moss & Lichen

Since I'm away for the next few days, I thought it would be a perfect time to catch up on a few photos I've been meaning to post.

For example, these are from when I went home for Easter. I went for a walk with my mom & my niece Jaden - we walked across the field & up into the bush. The trees hadn't yet started to bud, but some shrubs were starting to show some evidence of it & the pussy willows were just starting. On the big rock in the forest, the moss & lichen were blossoming after recent rains.
The moss was a healthy green & extra spongy.
The usually-crispy light green-grey lichen was still soft & springy.
Some lichen was neon yellow-green on the rocks & rotting vegetation.
I'm really loving the grey/charcoal/light blue-grey/lime green colour palette of this particular rock!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Five

Here's what I was up to this week (besides getting ready for Denver):
  1. Monday I ran a couple ELISAs with our lab tech. My supernatants did not have any detectable amounts of leptin or adiponectin.... not what I was hoping for. Will be running the experiments again.
  2. Tuesday I picked up my tuition support cheque. Yay! Just in time for Denver (& a final tuition payment...).
  3. Wednesday I presented my poster at the McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences research plenary. Thankfully, my poster was delivered to me about an hour before I needed to set up - I was a little worried for a while! It looked great & my presentation went really well.
  4. Thursday, I was a poster judge for the same research plenary. It was a lot of fun! My co-judge was a big name at St. Joe's, so I was very flattered when he told me I had insightful questions!
  5. I've been listing away! I've finally listed all the items I have photographed - now I need to take more pictures! Here's a new set of tags I really like:
I'm off to Denver tomorrow! I can't wait!!! I hope everyone has a great weekend - I know I will! Wish me luck with my presentation on Monday!

I've scheduled blog posts for when I'm away, so stop on by if you get a chance!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

25 Things List Update

I was recently looking over my 25 Things list since... well, the summer isn't that far off. Once May rolls around (and it already has, if you hadn't noticed), June, July & August are gone before you can flip the calendar pages. I realized I've made a bit of progress since I last posted this list, but I still have a ways to go before my birthday in August.

25 things to do before turning 25:
  1. turn an old book into a new masterpiece
  2. find a PhD position - or a job
  3. write a story - edited & worthy of publication (or at least reading)
  4. shoot a gun
  5. ride a horse
  6. practice yoga daily
  7. wear a bikini in public (& feel confident doing it)
  8. visit a province other than Ontario & Quebec
  9. have a successful craft show
  10. stock up my sewing shop
  11. make myself a dress - and wear it
  12. take a dance class
  13. try squash (the sport)
  14. find a fruit farm & pick fruit off trees
  15. design a logo for all 3 shops & have a custom stamp made (use it to personalize packaging)
  16. get my passport
  17. visit another country (besides the US)
  18. walk, then bike, up Hamilton mountain
  19. learn to speak another language
  20. speak at a conference
  21. become diligent with recycling & the green bin
  22. get dressed up & go out for drinks, dancing or something equally fancy
  23. have a night out with my sister-in-law
  24. visit an art gallery or museum I've never been to before
  25. visit St. Jacob's market
So... some of the things checked off since my last post on apple picking:
  • I've decided to gain some experience in the workforce before completing more school - so #2 has been slightly modified
  • I've decided to count my failed attempt at NaNoWriMo for #3 since I did write part of a story. I haven't given up on this challenge though - I will try again next November (& on my next "Things" list) & keep trying to write more in my journal
  • my craft show in December was semi-successful, so I'm counting it towards #9 (with lots of room for improvement)
  • I've stocked up my sewing shop (#10) with items I prepared for my craft show in December
  • I think I'm going to be less ambitious & cross out the "besides the US" part of #17. That way, I can count my Denver trip & cross this one out!
You'll notice that I've colour-coded & bolded a few items on my list. The bold numbers are things I'm going to check off while on my trip to Denver this weekend. I can't wait! We're going to be staying near the convention center (where the conference is being held) in the middle of the city & are planning on going to the zoo & an art gallery or museum. Of course Monday I'll be presenting my poster & I've signed up for some sessions, but I'll be free for a few afternoons, so I'm hoping for good walking weather!

The purple items on my list are things I'm actually working on accomplishing. I really just need to be more consistent & diligent! Green items are things I don't foresee myself finishing by the end of the summer. The other items... well, we'll just have to see what happens with those! Wish me luck!

What's on your list of things to do before your next big milestone?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mosaic Monday

It's Mosaic Monday! I hope you'll join us - it's really easy! Just make a photo mosaic - you can use whatever photo editing software you like, or a website such as the mosaic maker & photos from Flickr - & then post it on your blog. Go ahead & pick a theme if you want, but don't feel like you have to. Have fun with it!

Make sure to include a link back to my blog so that everyone can participate. Then come back here & submit a link to your blog post (using the "add your link" button at the bottom). I'll be looking at & commenting on each one!

Here's mine for this week: Spring in orange.

Here's the list of mosaics for this week. Once you've blogged, click the button below to add your blog post link.



Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday Seven

My Sunday Seven:
  1. Sunday: sweet corn on the cob
  2. Monday: the right to vote
  3. Tuesday: a perfect risotto with a side of fantastic roasted asparagus
  4. Wednesday: superb fat samples
  5. Thursday: SUN!
  6. Friday: a surprise gift from my mom
  7. Saturday: the smell of fresh-cut grass
I had a really busy week & another one ahead, but I really tried to make a point of savouring the slower moments.

What are you thankful for this week?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Project 52

It's been 4 weeks, so I think it's about time for an update on my Project 52. It has been going quite well actually. I'm getting better at planning each photo each week - with the exception for week 17. I only took a handful of pictures that week, so I just chose my favourite: Henry, during his first hour home.

Wanna see?

week 15: how others see you

Hidden in a book, surrounded by books & art ... & most likely in sweatpants. I tried a few shots with jeans on, but this one just felt more natural.

week 16: furry friends

Marigold, sitting pretty for the camera (I love her delicate little front paws). As soon as I saw the theme this week, I rejoiced since I was headed home for Easter that weekend. Perfect timing!

week 17: prince(ss) for a day

As I mentioned above, I didn't plan a photo this week. Indeed, I wasn't terribly inspired & was terribly busy. So I added some brackets to make the theme fit a photo I took earlier that week... I think it works, Henry is certainly being treated like royalty now!

week 18: first thing in the morning

This one was the most fun to take. Thursday morning happened to be bright & sunny, so I took advantage & turned on my camera as soon as I hopped out of bed. I like my wispy bedhead & the shadow my hand is casting on my face. I think I nailed that "I just woke up & it's too bright" feeling.

I had some really great outtakes this week:
This one says "it's waaaaaay too early to be up!"

Check out my Flickr Project 52 folder for more outtakes & all the photos from the challenge.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Five

Another crazy-busy week... I can't believe I'm flying to Denver next weekend! I have so much left to prepare! Looks like next week will be just as frantic!

Here's what I was up to this week:
  1. Pat was home sick on Tuesday... as much as I hate him being miserable, I really enjoy the company.
  2. My week has been all fat (samples that is) - I got samples Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday. Which is really good - once I run the experiments with them, I'll be more than halfway done what I have left to do to complete my thesis objectives!
  3. I sent Param the first draft of my poster for Denver & received glowing feedback. I only had to make a few adjustments. Over the weekend, I have to run a couple migration experiments to complete a graph & I'm good to print it (just in time for my poster presentation on Wednesday at the research plenary here at MAC).
  4. Roasted asparagus is SO easy, SO quick & SO good.
  5. I actually went on a bit of a listing binge yesterday - I found a bunch of photos that I'd forgotten about. For example, here's a bracelet I made, oh, probably a year ago:
Don't forget about mom on Sunday! Have a great weekend!