Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Food Files

Here in Ottawa the best bagels you can get are from Kettleman's - they are true Montreal bagels and can't be compared to any bagel bought at a grocery store or coffee shop. We are lucky that we live in walking distance to these freshly baked bagels, so once in a while we'll grab a dozen and have a great breakfast or a bagel sandwich for lunch.

I like my bagels with cream cheese and a little jam or with smoked salmon for a more substantial meal. While I really like Kettleman's bagels - I still refer to New York city for the best bagels I had in my life.

And if you are brave enough (I haven't yet) try making bagels at home like Luisa, the Wednesday Chef does.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Raising the bed

The first guest post on Fishly News is by my most favourite man, Bruno Doyle, often referred to as hubby on this blog. He tackled a project that tidies up our yard nicely and will make it easier to mow the lawn in the summer. I'm so happy this got done before our plants take over the yard!
We've been talking for some time about building a raised flower bed in our yard. Seeing as spring came early this year, this was a great excuse to take a day off and spend it in the sun.

There are several options for lumber including cedar, pressure treated wood, or something exotic. To keep the costs down, I chose pressure treated lumber. For the same reason, I used 4”x4” dimensional lumber, but 6”x6” is also an option. I used 10” galvanized steel carriage bolts. These are quite expensive but should resist corrosion for some time. The total cost for lumber and hardware worked out to $150.
The bed could be built using hand tools, but what would be the fun in that? I used a 12” miter saw to cut the lumber to size. A skill saw and reciprocating saw were used to make the half lap joints. Drilling a ½” hole through 7” of lumber required a pretty strong drill and a rather long auger bit. 

Other tools are useful such as a square, clamps (if you’re working alone), a big hammer and a chisel (to clean up the notches). Finally, a large impact driver (bonus points if it’s pneumatic) can be used to secure the carriage bolts and give you a healthy boost of testosterone.
1.   Cut your lumber to size. You’ll want to stagger your joints and keep them symmetrical. In my case, I used two 12' runs on top, with a 2' piece in between. The bottom run had 7', 12', and 7'. This worked out such that the joints were distributed nicely.
 2.   Cut some notches for the half lap joints. Set your skill saw at a 1-3/4" cutting depth and make a cut at 3-1/2" from the end. Then, with a reciprocating saw, notch out the piece from the side. Using the reciprocating saw in this way is a bit tricky, since you have to ensure that your cut is square. I suggest practicing a few times on some scrap lumber. You can always use a chisel to clean things up if your cut went a bit astray.
 3.   Assembly. I had to use a hammer to drive the 1/2" x 10" carriage bolts. 
 4.  Somewhat less pleasant is the trench that needs to be dug where framing will eventually sit. This is monotonous but not particularly difficult.
 5.  I performed the final assembly in close proximity to where the structure would eventually lay (I couldn't have moved it otherwise). Clamps can be used when drilling to hold it all together. The half lap joints fit together like a puzzle further stabilizing the structure.

  6.  Once all the bolts are in the holes, you must secure them. This is quite possibly the most fun part. If your impact driver is able to drive the head of the bolt below the surface of the wood, then I’m jealous.
  7.  Throw it all down into the trench and you've got the finished product.
It took me about 4 hours to put it all together, definitely a great way to spend a day outside!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bright woody disks for Easter

I found this wreath made of some type of dyed wood disks at a floral store and thought it would be perfect to brighten up the wall and start the Easter decor. I replaced the metal star that hangs above our cabinet with this wreath and took our two Easter bunnies out of storage. Once we get some candy our Easter decor will be done. A small vignette that celebrates the season. Just two weeks until the Easter weekend!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Food Files

Mac & Cheese or "cheesy noodles" as my kids call it is a simple and sure meal at our house. We use different pasta depending on what's in the pantry, but I'm always consistent with the cheese I use. This is not a light or diet meal, but it's comfort food at its best.

The how to (serves about six and makes great left-overs)
  • 1 box of pasta (pasta with ridges allow the cheesy sauce to cling on it better)
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 1/2-1 cup of milk
  • 1 block of Emmenthal or Gruyere cheese shredded (about 2 cups). This is more expensive cheese, but the flavour will make all the difference
  • Ground mustard
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 chopped red pepper or yellow pepper if you want it to blend into the pasta and be less noticeable to kids. 
  • Basil (optional)
Other alternative to the bell pepper is to add a large jar of butternut squash babyfood - They don't know that they are eating veggies and it doesn't impact the flavour of the sauce.

  1. Boil water and cook pasta according to instructions
  2. In a sauce pan gently melt butter (don't let it brown!)
  3. Once melted add flour and whisk together until the butter soaks into the flour.
  4. Slowly add milk and keep whisking until you get a creamy texture (this usually happens suddenly)
  5. Season with salt and pepper and ground mustard (I like a lot of ground mustard!)
  6. Turn off heat and add cheese, mixing until it all melts into the sauce.
  7. Add chopped peppers and mix all with freshly drained pasta
Sprinkle with basil if you want and serve hot. Works well with a vinegary side salad.
Easy meal to make, the longest step is for the water to boil.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

DIY Superhero Cape

The fabric seems purplish in photos, but it's actually blue.

I decided to sew something for D's birthday since I had made princess skirts for M's birthday party last summer. Looking on Etsy I saw several options for sale, but figured I could create something myself. Then I remembered that Jennifer from Rambling Renovators had posted a tutorial and I used it to guide me in the project. 

What you need to get started:
  1. 2 yards of fabric ( I used satin but it's pretty slippery, cotton would be easier to handle)
  2. Marking chalk ( I used regular chalk)
  3. A side plate
  4. Velcro
  5. Sewing supplies
  6. Iron
  7. Extra fabric or felt for details

  1. Measure how long you want the cape to be. I used a 25" length plus added seam allowance (see notes above). 
  2. Take your two yards of fabric and place them one on top of the other.
  3. Fold the fabric in half. Along the fold, make a mark length (in my case 25"). At one end, make a mark at 5.5" in from the fold. At the other end, make a mark at 11" in from the fold. Use a tape measure to connect the 5.5" and 12" marks and draw a diagonal line to connect them.
  4. Cut 1/2" away from the marked lines to give you the seam allowance. I rounded the corners a bit. You'll be left with both pieces of fabric in the right size. Keep them together.

 5. Take an 8" side plate and place it about 4" on the folded top corner of the cut fabrics. Mark circle with chalk.

6. Cut out the marked half circle.

7. You'll be left with two pieces of fabric that now resemble a cape. Iron both pieces.

8. Cut out any details you want either with extra fabric or felt. 

9. Pin the details on one side of the cape. I sewed it with a fine zig zag stitch, however, you could use iron on tape here, which is probably faster.

10. Now that you are done applying any decorations, place the two pieces of fabric nice side facing each other and pin it together.

11. Sew about 1/2" inside the outside edge all along the fabric, leaving one small opening so you can turn the fabric right side up. This is where cotton fabric would be easier as the satin likes to slip and slide!

12. Once you turned the cape right side out, iron again and flatten the seam area as much as you can. Stitch together the opening by hand or very carefully with the machine making sure the edges are inside the cape.

13. Cut a pice of velcro and sew clingy piece on one side of the cape, the sticky piece on the other. Make sure to get them on the right side of the cap panel to they can connect properly.

There you go - a super hero cape in less than an hour. If you don't want to use any decorations, just skip those steps and you'll have it done even faster.

PS: The first photos are really bad as our flash broke. You can see better photos of the sizing and measuring on Jennifer's blog. Oh, and she did a lovely ruffle on her girl's cape!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring has sprung

As the Hyacinths's are blooming indoors, mother nature has decided that Spring will move in early. Spring has sprung with a bang this past weekend!

Photo of neighborhood back yards by Bruno Doyle

While the mornings were foggy, the sun came out with full force and burned that fog pretty quickly. We spent the weekend outdoors in short sleeves and no socks. The temperature was in the mid 20s (C) with the weather report giving us more summer temperatures for the rest of the week.  What a difference from snow pants and hats just a week ago. I'm not complaining. How is the weather were you are?

Photo by Bruno Doyle

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Food Files

After last week I wanted to post something savoury and have the image more modern, with clean lines. Wasabi peas seemed like a great option, not only do they have interesting texture and colour, but they are a nice snack with a bit of a kick. While I don't make them myself - some people do.

I like them best with a glass of tomato juice - they probably would fit well at cocktail hour with a Bloody Mary.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Collectible Colours - March

Celebrating St. Patrick's day with a collection in green - a nice nod to upcoming spring, right?

Read here how the collectible colours series started.

Linked to This or That Thursday

Monday, March 12, 2012


D's birthday party was featured on Apartment Therapy today. Thanks for the mention and welcome if you are stopping by.

Tour our living and dining room

This is how our house looked like when we visited for our home inspection - there was a lot of brown. My favourite were the frilly curtains, the muddy wall colour and the very oddly placed mantle. We bought the house because of all that open space, the hardwood floors and all those windows!

This is how it looks now. We painted all the walls Benjamin Moore Thunder and removed the ruffle curtains. We removed the mantle above the fireplace and I will address the tile on the fireplace this year.

This room is still work in progress:

  1. In addition to the fireplace changes I want to replace my very plain curtains with custom white blinds to showcase the architecture of the house better. 
  2. I need to find a rug to ground the space between the sectional sofa and the TV area (2.5 years in and I still have not found what I like). 
  3. I need to address the pale legs of our sofa. 
  4. I don't think the ottoman works very well - it's large and brown and rectangular, but it's soft for the kids and often serves as a boat. I would love to replace it with a round coffee table down the road. The side table is antique and I like it a lot, but it's too high (should I cut down the legs?)
  5. The TV unit is pretty bare to keep little hands from moving things and I'm also looking for lighting in that area.
  6. We also need to paint the ceiling to refresh the white and remove the radiators.
  7. I would like to add a low bookcase to the right of the fireplace, behind the floral chair and maybe go for a hanging chair (5th down) or a real man chair?

We also painted the dining room and removed the plastic ceiling medallion, chandelier, curtains and bi-fold doors leading to the kitchen. We have not really spent any renovation money on these rooms, just some decorating.

Things we want to do in this room:
  1. Remove the old radiators
  2. Replace curtain with blinds on the right hand side of the room
  3. Replace picture window curtains with something that makes a statement - maybe along these lines?
  4. Reupholster white chairs once the kids are older (they may seem white in this picture, but they have seen better days)
  5. Replace yellow cabinet with a buffet that's lower and can add serving area
  6. Find a rug for under the table
  7. Get a nicer occasional chair for the corner - something like this.
There you have it, the rooms we spend most of our time in. Never really finished but much improved from when we first walked in. Any thoughts on chairs, coffee table and blinds versus curtains?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Food Files

First off, these apple cinnamon muffins are made from a box of organic mix. However, I added a successful recipe below if you want to make them from scratch.

I'm always looking for breakfast options that will make my daughter eat and these work well in the morning and at snack time. They are very low fat and tasty without being sugary.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and quartered (I use any kind of apple and usually use 2-4)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 2 pinches salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cooking spray or use liners; set aside. Cut 3 apple quarters into 1/4-inch dice; cut remaining apple quarter into 12 thin slices for garnish.
  2. Whisk together sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add diced apple and walnuts, if using; toss to coat.Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and butter in a small bowl. Gently fold buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until just combined; do not overmix. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Top each with an apple slice. Bake until muffins are brown around edges and spring back when touched, 16 to 18 minutes. Let muffins cool slightly, about 5 minutes, before turning out of tin onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Who would have thought

Who would have thought that a new toilet seat would make our family this happy? The hinges on our old one were cracking, so hubby ventured to HD and saw this one. Why is this one so special? Well, our son has been potty trained for two months now, so the integrated small toilet seat is awesome for him and his sister. No more having a seat adaptor laying around the bathroom which needs to be added in much haste. It's held up with some kind of magnet and the best thing is that this toilet seat is one of those that you can't slam down, they close slowly and on their own. Sometimes it's in the details.

We also added a towel ring next to the vanity - another detail that keeps the towel from falling to the floor or sliding into the sink.

And lastly - some people asked about the shower curtain fabric and how it compared to the framed fabric which I had eluded to in our bathroom reveal. Well, I finally took a picture of both to show you what I mean. I bought the shower curtain almost two years ago at Target, I like it in our family bathroom, it's fun without being too kiddy. The fabric I chose to frame is more grown up, but links well in colour and movement. Usually not having it match exactly makes things more interesting.

Do you have little odd things that make you happy? Things that complete a project that you never thought of when you started out? I never thought it would be a toilet seat.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Take the time to give credit

* Long post alert!

Like many of you out there I love my Pinterest and other web sources for images. But I also have my beef with it - or better said, I have my beef with people not giving credit or linking correctly to images they post on their blogs. Pinning is easy and for the bulk of users it's probably fine that they just repin and add to their boards (although I do see in the foreseeable future that Pinterest will have to address the issue of images not linking to their original source).

Where it gets annoying for me is when blogs use Pinterest as their source - Pinterest is NOT a source, your board is a depository for images that are hopefully properly sourced.

If you plan on using an image on your blog, do the leg work and actually go through the pin history - this means: Go back to the original source, the original posting of the image and use that as your first credit (not the homepage of the blog, but the post URL), then credit the blog you found it on if applicable. So that could read: Image source: Fishly News via Flickr (linked in both cases to correct URL within the sites). Obviously you don't have to credit every Jack or Judy that pinned the image on Pinterest.

If you blog images that are not your own you have to do the work to give credit to the person that created the image. If you can't find the original source you probably should not post the image. If you don't have the time to do the research and credit correctly, postpone your post.

Let's just say that Molly in Colorado took a picture of this great tuturial she did and it got pinned...she's probably really exited because it drives traffic to her site and people can see all the other things she did. Now what if this great tutorial credit got lost and she's browsing her favourite blog and sees her great tutorial, and the credit says Pinterest! How would you feel about that - this blogger is getting readers uuhhhing and ahhing about the content and that great tutorial, but Molly isn't getting any credit for it.
* and no, I am not Molly and this has not happened to me.

Same with scanning images from magazines, which btw. is against copyright -- you can photograph a magazine to clearly identify that the image is from a publication, you then need to source the name of the magazine and the published date. So no, it's not good enough to scan the photo and just write  'BHG' underneath it - how is a person supposed to find the correct issue?

What irks me most is that I'm seeing blogs that have a large following doing this, blogs that are run for money, not just the  'oops, I'm new at blogging and have no idea what I'm doing' sites.

I know there are a million different opinions on what is correct credit and what isn't - some people don't want their work shared, others enjoy the free advertising, each country has different rules and regulations, but I believe the least we can do is to take the time to actually let readers know how an image was found. And most blogs and photographers indicate if their work is allowed to be shared and under what circumstances.

Photos visible on this image: blue balloons: Design Love Fest, balloon cake: Twirling Betty via Babyology, number cake: Love and Olive Oil, cafe floor: Remodelista, entrance: via Four Walls and a Roof via Marion House Book

Most of the images on my blog are my own, but I do have my monthly pin inspiration post that I try to credit correctly (sometimes that takes forever and I might rethink doing the feature) and once in a while when working on a reno I'll show some inspiration photos. My blog is identified as allowing people to use my photos if they wish, but to link back to the blog. My next step will be to add my watermark on each and every photo - just to ensure people can find the source.

What are your thoughts on giving proper credit? Is is overrated? Do you care? Is that the nature of the world wide web and flood of information?

PS: Read this post by Victoria from Vmac & Cheese - she introduces a great bookmarklet that can help source a photo and Isabella and Max rooms wrote a post about finding sources with google image search.

PPS: Read this great post by Lindsay from Little House Blog - see what I mean?

PPPS: Another interesting read is this article from Darcy ,from Living with 3 Boybarians, on Pinterest and if it's good for bloggers or not. Have a look at what she says about pin descriptions that are too detailed - very interesting.