1.6.13

June Calendar Roundup

It's June! How did that happen? Oh well, half way to Christmas ;)

Here is the roundup of calendars that caught my eye this month. Simply click on the link below each one to be redirected to the download.



Mom's Crafty Space


Shop Ruche



































Love Creative



Blog a la carte



The Tassel & Flower Blog

Paper Leaf





















Nicole's Classes



















Red Stamp





















Pepper & Buttons


















Oh Happy Friday


















Today I'm Bobbi



bhmpics



















Wild Olive






































Which is your fave? This last one makes me hungry ;) Yum. Happy June everyone!




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30.5.13

Dot Dot Dot...

I did it. I finally bought my first Stella & Dot jewellery pieces!

This is my second time to a hosted Stella & Dot party. I LOVE their stuff but due to the cost (it is quite pricey for 'costume jewellery') I held out purchasing until now. I even put about 40 pieces (not kidding) on my Christmas list but alas, no takers.

I actually revamped some jewellery not too long ago and restyled one piece with a Stella & Dot necklace in mind. You can read that post here. Needless to say, I love their stuff.

So, I took the leap and dove right in. I mean really, how could ladies + appies + wine + kid free zone + amazing jewellery NOT = a good time?

And a good time it was. The hardest part was deciding what to buy. Seriously. I probably stressed about it too much. But in the end I decided.

And here is what I purchased:

RAINA earrings. I love these as they have multiple tones of metal which make them look amazing with anything. Plus they really catch the light so are a great statement piece. They will really stand out when my hair is tied back, but are still bold enough to hold their own when I wear my hair down.























































































I also purchased two bracelets which will be fantastic layering pieces. I could wear them on their own of course, but love the look of multiple bangles. I have a bunch that will look great with the two I decided on.

GILDED ARROW BANGLE



















and JULEP BANGLE
































































Like most home based parties, you place an order for the product so you don't actually come home with it that night. So the wait is officially on. I am really excited to receive my new treats!

Tick tock.

What about you? I know I am a bit late to hop on the Stella & Dot train but now that I have arrived I'd love to hear your experiences with their product. What pieces do you own? What are your faves?

* all images from www.stelladot.com *

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29.5.13

Potato Leek Soup








Chef Kev has been at it again! Soup in da' house! I've told Chef Kev that if he ever tried out for "Master Chef" (I'd totally make him if it came to Canada) then he'd HAVE to audition with one of his soups. He rolled his eyes at me as usual, but I ignored him. He's really perfected his soups and they are G.O.O.D! Here is his latest...





















Potato Leek Soup

You will need:
3 large leeks
6-7 large yellow flesh potatoes
chicken bouillon (Chef Kev likes 'Better Than Bouillon' brand)
Salt and Pepper
thyme (dry or fresh)
2-3 garlic cloves (minced)
1/3 cup 'table' or 'heavy' cream
1/2 package bacon
2 shallots
flour or cornstarch (used for dusting)
chives
paprika


To make:
Cut the bottom section of the leeks into 1/4" rings. You only want to trim the bottom part of the leek (which is the 'white' part) up to where the leaves meet the stalk. You discard the leaves as well as the bottom 'bulb' bit. Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the leek sections, seperating them into rings in the water. Let sit for a bit so that the dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl.

Peel your potatoes and place them in a pot of chicken stock (follow the direction on the bouillon container to make enough stock to boil your potatoes in). Place on high heat to start boiling.

In the meantime, heat some vegetable oil in a sauté pan on medium-low heat. Once the pan is hot, drain the leeks carefully (so as not to disturb the dirt that has sunk to the bottom of the bowl). Pat the leek rings dry and add to your pan to sauté. Season the leeks with salt, pepper and thyme. Just as your leeks start to darken/caramelize, add the minced garlic. Once the garlic cooks down a few minutes, add a cup of water to the pan to deglaze it. Turn heat off.

Once your potatoes have boiled (you want them to be soft enough so that you can push a spoon right through them) drain some of the stock, but make sure there is enough in the pot so that your potatoes are still fully submerged.

Add the leek mixture into the pot and simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until leeks are really soft.

Use a hand emulsifier blender and blend it (right in the pot) until you achieve a creamy texture/consistency. If you don't have a hand emulsifier blender you can use a regular good quality blender but be really careful transferring your soup and also blending. Hot contents like this can cause your blender top to blow! As needed, add more water to get the right consistency (you are aiming for something along the lines of a pea soup thickness). Add your cream. Spoon in bouillon a little bit at a time as needed to achieve the right salt level for your taste.

To make the bacon bits you will want to cut up your bacon into 'bit' sized pieces and fry. The crispier the better :)

To make the crispy shallots. thinly slice your shallots into rings. Separate and dust them (all over) in your bowl of flour or cornstarch. In a hot pan on med-high heat, cook the dusted shallots in the leftover bacon grease (or vegetable oil would work too). The shallots cook really fast so keep your eye on them (you only need about 30 seconds to 1 minute). Remove from the pan as soon as they brown.

Serve your soup topped with bacon bits, crispy shallots, chive and paprika.

Enjoy!






















Like what the chef is serving? See all of Chef Kev's creations here.


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27.5.13

A lengthy blurb about our newly planted herbs

It was time to plant our herb garden for the season and this year I decided to shake things up a bit. I usually plant them in three hanging planters that my dad built (and I refinished), however they didn't always thrive quite as well as I'd hoped. The herbs always grew, but didn't always regenerate as fast as we'd like, which had us purchasing fresh herbs at the grocery store again from time-to-time (kind of defeats the purpose right)!?

Anyway, last year there was one sage plant still alive come Spring so I took it out and put it in our large garden bed 'just because'. Well, it went crazy and grew, and grew, and grew! So, a seed was planted (pun intended). This year I thought I'd put the herb garden into my existing large garden bed and see what happened.

Here is how the garden looked in it's current state a few days ago (not the nicest weather lately as you can see).

We are in a townhouse so have the typical small backyard space that townhouses offer. Our garden area was predetermined when we moved in and our small strip of grass (that would not grow) was replaced by building out our deck to meet the garden retaining wall (read more about that here)

The garden itself is quite large and I've been working on filling it up over the six and a half years we've been here. 

Here are the remnants from last year's hanging planter herb garden. I needed to address this too (which I had a plan for). Dried sticks anyone? They go great on roast chicken...

But before I could tackle any of my new planting, I had a few issues. First, this...

WEEDS. A lot of them.

Ugh. Secondly, I needed to relocate some plants and ditch one altogether (a fledgling patch of ground cover). Here is the play-by-play breakdown for you.

As you can see (or not, kind of confusing I know) I relocated two heathers (pink and yellow), dug up the patchy ground cover (white with red 'x') and split one decorative grass into three new plants (blue).  

And I weeded. And weeded. And weeded.

But then I was left with this nice clearing. Perfect for a little herb garden no?

And Chace supervised. 

I figured out the placement of the herbs by first arranging them while still in their pots. Much easier to try out different layouts this way!

I also have two basil plants that can't go in the ground yet as it still gets too cold at night (another month or so and we should be fine) but I kept them in mind too when figuring out my spacing. I also checked the height forecast of each one so that I didn't put ones that were going to grow 20" tall in the front. I wanted to make sure that accessibility was going to be possible since we'll be in and out of this little section all summer.

Once happy with the placement, I planted them.

Chef Kev doesn't need an identification marker, but I'm much less savvy so they are for me. You only have to bring back parsley once when the chef asks for cilantro to determine that cheat sheets for the culinary impaired are a-okay.

I'd love to get some pretty stakes like any of the ones seen here. I love the idea of the identifying rocks too! Future DIY :).



The nice thing about the herbs' placement is that they are located straight out from the sliding doors. Really accesible. 

I also took a moment to wrangle in the peony that I bought last year. It's really shot up so I had to stake it and give it some support. As you can see it's really close to blooming. I can't wait!

Okay, so with that done I turned my attention to my now-empty black hanging planter boxes. Again, because we are in a townhouse, we have limits about what we can change and not change. We can't change the ugly cement wall. 

However, I CAN purchase some trailing succulents that will grow and spill over the sides of the planter while blooming, creating a pretty cascading display of colour!

I decided succulents were the way to go as these planters dry out SO fast in the summer and are in direct sunlight. The succulents actually want to dry out between waterings. Works for me! Especially since I get lazy with my watering regime.

The names of these guys are "Portulaca". They obviously haven't grown yet so aren't cascading but give them time :). I also put in a few flowers called "Celosia" (you can see them peeking out in the last photo above (red and yellow). They aren't succulents, but Chace saw them at the nursery and wanted to get them as they looked "like fuzzy feathers". How could I say no? And, as it turns out, they offer a nice contrast in the planter.

And lastly, I topped up the soil (I had picked up a few bags for my hanging boxes) in my large black planters. I painted these black a few summers ago and they are still holding up well. 

I just trimmed back the decorative grasses in them a few weeks ago (hence the little mounds in the middle) but soon they will look like this again (picture was taken last summer and is from this post). See how they grow nice and tall to fill the space between the top and bottom planters? I think that combined with the trailing Portulaca will look amazing. 

So, I can be patient. I mean, if I wasn't, it could still look like it did when we moved in...

(taken from my office window which overlooks the back area)
Seriously. YUCK. Sure helps to have a vision doesn't it!?

What have you all been up to lately? Anyone else slowly 'opening up' the outside in preparation for the season? Any other new herb gardens out there?

Come on, spill dill! It's time thyme. ;)


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