29.6.12

OH (yummy) CANADA!


This Sunday is Canada Day - which is quite appropriate given that I'm Canadian ;). ... So here's a little idea that you may enjoy tipping back as you tip your hat to this great country.
















































Now I don't think I need to point out the obvious, but you probably notice that this drink is layered in red and white - just like our amazing Canadian flag. How patriotic! And gorgeous. And tasty!

I can't take full credit for this idea though. This morning as I was feeding my little guy breakfast I had the 'Today Show' on in the background. Given that July 4th is coming up, they were doing a segment on entertaining ideas for the holiday. They featured an amazing layered red, white and blue drink. I thought, "hey, I want to try that" so I went to their site looking for some direction.

What I found was a section linking to favourite pinterest inspired July 4th ideas and I found the inspiration for the drink I saw - which led me to this site.

So, I got started.

What you will need for this is:
Ice
Sprite Zero
Cranberry Juice
Strawberries

First I filled my glasses about 1/3 full of ice.























Then I filled each cup about 1/3 full of cranberry juice.






















Then I added a bit more ice and begain to layer. I poured in another third of Sprite Zero. The key to layering is to pour your second beverage DIRECTLY on to an ice cube so that it does not mix into the cranberry juice.






















You can see the Sprite Zero hitting the ice cube above.

Here they all are with their second 'white' layers.






















So then I went to add another layer of red cranberry juice.






















FAIL! flopzilla. mixville.

I think what happened here is that the layers mixed because the sugar in my cranberry juice, was denser/heavier than the sugars in my pop. There is a note about drink sugars here. I thought I had covered my bases, but apparently not.

Oh well, on to plan B.

I cut up some strawberries and created a new red layer! They didn't sink down as I was careful when placing them and made sure they sat on top of the ice.






















And when that was all said and done we had this!














































































































































































































HAPPY CANADA DAY!

I must admit, I drank the one that I messed up as I typed this post. Delicous!

I'll save the two pretty ones for Chef Kev and Chace :)

Have a wonderful and safe long weekend everyone. We're off to do some fun things around town and celebrate a good friends' birthday.

And probably drink a few more of these no doubt.

Cherishd Bliss



Liz Marie Blog
Weekend Bloggy Reading






New Page for Chef Kev

I've been doing a bit of organizing around here - mmmmmm, organizing - yes I am weird like that.

Since I can see that my Chef Kev posts are popular, I created a page just for him where my readers can quickly find the links to their favourite recipes!

It can be found along the top - under my header - on the far right.

Click on over to take a peek!























Every time I make a Chef Kev post in the future, I will update this page with links as well.

Happy cooking!

Oh - and speaking of organizing, I've been doing a little cleaning up on my Pinterest account. I now have a board called 'from my BLOG' where I will be pinning projects, Chef Kev dishes etc. If you're interested, please follow along here.

And don't forget to like Visual Meringue on Facebook too if you're so inclined :).

Have a great weekend everyone - TGIF!

28.6.12

Blogland Beauts #4 - Popsicles, Pink Lemonade, Polka dots ... and a quilt!








Just like yesterday when I did a Chef Kev post, Blogland Beauts is a feature I haven't done in awhile - so high time for one!

First up are these (literally) mouth-watering pomegranate, grape and blueberry popsicles from Jo-Anna over at A Pretty Life in the Suburbs. These are a 'must try'. 

And isn't her food photography awesome? Love it. 


























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Then we move on to Cherished Bliss for (an equally mouth-watering) Pink Lemonade Party for Ashley's daughter Addison's 2nd birthday party. Beyond adorable - and such amazing details!
































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Feeling all girlie we wander over to Making It Lovely where Nicole shows us how to make this amazing Polka Dot Tray. Nicole has a great, clean, retro vibe to her style and this tray is a perfect reflection of that.























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And last but not least we take a peek at Erin's first quilt attempt! I think it turned out great and love the quirky random quality of it. I'm also really digging the colour palette. So playful and fun. Check it out over on Olive Our House.












































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Thanks for the inspiration ladies!


Check out the complete Blogland Beauts series here.


27.6.12

Rib-erific





It's been awhile since I did a Chef Kev post (do you like his new banner?) but after last night's dinner, I just have to share.

For those of you who don't know, my husband is a 6' 5" soccer goalie who is in the finance industry by day - and a master chef (in my humble opinion) by night!

Don't believe me? Check out what was on my dinner table yesterday...

Rib-erific I tell you. YUM.

I love these ribs because they aren't the messy 'saucy' kind (not my fave). These remind me more of a 'dry rib' but are much more tender and juicy than your typical appetizer style dry rib (that you might think of served in a restaurant). Fantastic.

And yes, that is a dynamite salad you see in the background. 

Now to share both with you :) ... well not in reality as I ate it all, but I can share how he did it. Does that work?

Ribs:
Preheat your oven to 300°
Trim the ribs and place on tinfoil on a baking sheet
Coat with olive oil
Apply your rub, which in this instance was "Bayley's Memphis Heat Spice Rub" (more on that below)
In addition to Bayley's Memphis Heat, Chef Kev added a bit more brown sugar, salt and Rufus Teague Meat Rub
Cook for 2 hours - middle rack

Now, to get to that Memphis Heat Rub I mentioned above...


My dad also loves cooking so he and Chef Kev can often be found chatting about different cooking techniques, spices, rubs, ways to prep things etc. One year on Chef Kev's birthday my dad put together a jar of one of his special rubs - and called it "Bayley's Memphis Heat Spice Rub" - I got called in to make the label ;). This rub is so good that I think this is already our third or fourth jar of it.
So, to make your own Bayley's Memphis Heat Spice Rub here is what you combine (look at me, sharing a special family secret - thanks Dad!)

Bayley's Memphis Heat Spice Rub
2.5 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp sea salt
1/2 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne

for a hotter version you can add:
1 tsp pasilla powder
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp smoked paprika

You may wish to double this to get good coverage on your ribs!

We  have the hotter version and I don't think it's unbearably hot - I'd make that version ;)

And when your two hours are up, you are left with these beauts...


Hands up if you're salivating!

To go along with these fantastic ribs, Chef Kev made an amazing salad...


Chef Kev's Amazing Salad

First up, Saute some black beans and corn in a pan with some olive oil, a bit of jalepeno and ancho chili powder. Set aside.

Make your crispy shallots (as seen on the top) by thinly slicing some shallots (Chef Kev used a mandolin slicer to get thin and uniform pieces).

Next, dust your shallot pieces with flour, tossing lighty and seperating (think teeny tiny onion rings).

Then, fry your shallots by first warming some canola oil on medium heat - don't toss the shallots in until the oil is hot enough (test it by flicking in a drop or two of water. It should sizzle and pop).

Stir the shallots in the oil until they are golden brown.

Scoop out and place into a sieve so that the oil drains out and your shallots stay nice and crispy (placing your sieve onto a paper towel is a great trick to draw out some of the extra oil). Set aside.

Then, toss together arugula, red pepper, fresh basil (or cilantro) and your black bean and corn mixture. On top of that add some shaved parmesan cheese and layer on your crispy shallots.

Finish by drizzling on a dressing. Chef Kev suggests an ancho chile one or a chipotle ranch option (my fave). To make the latter, simply stir in a bit of chipotle powder to a fine quality ranch dressing. We like the Litehouse Homestyle Ranch (found in the produce section versus the salad dressing aisle).

And there you have it - another fantastic Chef Kev dinner! Enjoy!

Enjoying what comes out of the Chef Kev kitchen? Check out all his tasty creations here!




Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
Liz Marie Blog
Weekend Bloggy Reading

25.6.12

Featurama!

I was lucky enought to be featured on two amazing blogs - please stop by and visit these lovely ladies!

Thanks again Amanda and Ashley!

Chace's "Big Boy Room" was featured over at Serenity Now.




And my Casual English Country Bouquet was featured over on Cherished Bliss.

23.6.12

Doing the R.O.B.O.T dance

You may recall in this post where I updated you on Chace's 'Big Boy Room' progress, that I had another project in the works for this big blank space of wall...
















































Well here it is!


















































































































It all started when Chace got this awesome 'card' with one of the gifts from his 3rd birthday - a little multi-jointed robot (who also happened to fit his bedroom colour palette perfectly AND play off the robot art I created in his closet nook).





































I couldn't just file this little guy away in a box.

However, he did sit around awhile as I didn't have a frame and there were other 'bigger' things I wanted to get for his room first (table, toy storage etc. as mentioned here), but this past week while looking for something else I stumbled upon this tucked away...


































Art I had done in design school (I'm a Graphic Designer) yes, but more importantly, the perfect sized frame!

Here are a few close-up of my little 'botanical style' illustrations from back in the day - ah, memories. I remember even creating that custom matt with handmade paper. Ha. Good times.











































Okay, so maybe styles have changed but it's always fun to look back.

Knowing I wanted to paint the frame white, I started by taking out the old art. And that's when it happened...















































... the glass broke. 

So I took this as a sign that my little robot friend did not want to be kept under glass (kinda like how nobody keeps Baby in a corner - name that movie) and just came up with a new plan - to 'bump' him up (more on that later). No glass needed for this direction.

Armed with my newly glass-free frame I headed down to the garage for a little spray tan.






















And even managed to do this step without breaking anything.

I had always planned to put some decorative scrapbook paper behind the little robot to add some fun but wasn't sure exactly what look I was going for. I know I wanted somethind dynamic and playful but not too busy. I didn't want any pattern to compete with our star - little robot.

I grabbed three paper contenders from my stash and headed up to my other stash (this is where my organized  hoarding comes in handy) to find a larger piece of white paper to fill the whole frame. I knew my scrapbook paper was 12" x 12" so was not going to fill the whole space up. I needed a simple clean background to mount it all on.

But I had nothing.

However, I did find a clean white mat instead.

But it didn't' fill the frame either.

So I came up with a new plan.

Spray the board that came in my frame white, layer the scrapbook paper on that, covered with the matt and then bump up my little robot.

Yes.

First to pick a scrapbook paper design though...

I started with the busiest of the shortlisted bunch but quickly decided that yes, it was too busy. Althought cute, little robot wasn't the focus I wanted him to be. Oh, and I know he extends past the inside frame of the mat but I was okay with that - even wanted it if I'm being honest. I liked that he was jumping out - much more dynamic that way.






































That dark brown backing is actually the back of the frame board that I mention above - pre-'sprayathon'.

Next up was a crisp green plaid.







































Much better but not quite the right shade of green. I liked the boyish plaid though and loved the diagonal. Getting closer...

From the same pack (a Christmas one if you can believe it) I found the match to the above paper, but in blue.

DONE!









































Loved it. Boyish, fun, playful and non-competing with the robot. And the fact that it was going on a blue wall - serendipity.

With that decided, I was back to the garage to begin spraying the board. I decided to spray the rough side of the board as I thought the texture would add an unexpected element - plus it was a little more 'boyish'.















































Holy paint suck batman! This board kept drinking and was never satisfied! It drained what I had in this can and I moved on to some white primer I had on hand - but it still didn't look good. Oh, and I only sprayed the outside edges as the middle would be covered up.

Here it is once dried (after about 10 coats).






















The texture is fun but the whites don't work well together and you can still see bits of the brown fibres. It just didn't accept the spray paint evenly and uniformly.

So I did what any blogging mama on the fly would do - I changed my plan - AGAIN. By the way, this project cost me zero dollars. I just kept working with what I had on hand until I found a solution that worked!

I remembered that I had some leftover blue wall paint from when I painted Chace's room a few months ago and thought applying that with a brush could garner the results I was after.

Here you can see how uneven the white finish was...















































And here it is with a coat of blue.






















Looking promising!

Chace may have been in the tub when I was doing this, hence the impromptu painting set up in the bathroom! You take every moment you can get when you're a full-time working, graphic design on the side, blogging mama of a toddler!

He thought it was awesome and gave me a full play-by-play of what I was doing. 

Here is a close up of the blue paint (and mat) once dried. Much better! Doesn't the texture of the backside of the board look neat?















































Then I began adding some little foam 'bumpers' to the back of robot so that he sat elevated slightly. These are also from my scrapbooking supplies. They are simple to use since they are sticky on both sides of the foam. You apply one to your surface, and one to your 'subject' and this is what you get! 






















The cool thing about this is that the robots hands, feet and antenae are free to move since I didn't need to add any there. That way Chace can manipulate them if he wants to play with it. Interactive art ;)!






















Once it was put back into it's frame and hung up, this is how he looked!















































I think it really fills up that space (which definitley was in need of something)




































































beeboop - beeboop - splurt - zap - wheeez!

That's robot for "how do you like them apples!?" And you know what, I like 'em. A lot.

I'm actually glad my original vision didn't work out and I had to change my plan 367 times. I love how the blue ties in to the wall colour. I love the layering effect of the board, scrapbook paper and mat. I love the texture of the board. I love how my little robot is still the star even though he is only one of the many elements at work here. And I love that Chace loves it. 

I guess change really is good.













































How about you? Ever start a project only to revise it every second step? Ever made art of out of something that wasn't? Found any old school projects shoved lovingly stored under the bed that came in handy when least expected? 

Beblurrrrp - that's robot for "dish/spill".

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