Monday, April 30, 2012

And there was beer

We had a great time hosting our little beer shindig this past weekend. We offered a selection of beers, some big brands and some small Canadian brewers. People enjoyed trying beers they might not necessarily buy themselves.

The kids helped me make the birthday banner, M cut out all the triangles and all three of us stuck on the letters. Just a bit of party decor on our dining room window.

We had beer cupcakes which were really tasty, but didn't really taste of beer. I'll post the recipe on Friday. Our main meal consisted of a baked potato bar with a choice of toppings: salsa con cheso, broccoli, cheese, sour cream, chives and very popular chilli. It's the perfect meal for a party - prep is minimal and the leftovers save well.

To fancy up the party a bit, and just for laughs, we added bow ties to the theme - it was surprisingly hard to find  bow ties at vintage stores and they were still quite expensive, so I just got a couple and then made some fun patterned ones with scrap fabric I already had. 

The kids got to stay up late (and woke up early -ufff) and we all had a great time. It's fun to combine a mix of people in your house that don't usually interact. And thanks to everyone for bringing all the beer - that's what happens at a beer themed party, you seem to end up with more than you started! Cheers!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Food Files

Breakfasts are a challenge around here on most mornings. Someone might have eaten something one day and refuses to touch it the next day. My son will eat a piece of bread with cheese most days and maybe a banana, but my daughter would rather skip breakfast. However, letting her skip breakfast leads to crying at school - so, not an option.

We have three varieties of cheerios at home now and with some persuasion I can usually get her to eat that. Sometimes we have to break down and serve Nutella (and even that doesn't always work). We've tried bread, yogurt, cheese, bananas, apples, berries, breakfast muffins, eggs...I just want to crawl back into bed.

Do your kids eat breakfast? What works for you?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Birthday preparations

Tomorrow is Bruno's birthday. We are having a little party on Saturday and I'm getting ready for it. See a theme? We are fancying up a beer party with bow ties and a selection of micro brews.

We also hired our babysitter so our friends can bring their kids and have them entertained. I'll be attempting beer cupcakes for the event - I'll let you know how they turn out. Happy Birthday, hubby!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Adding stripes

After two-and-a-half years, I finally found a rug for our living room. This rug was neutral enough to match our furniture, bold enough to add a bit of punch, sized right at almost 8x11 feet, made of 100% wool and priced right. All came together last week at Home Sense and I didn't hesitate this time and bought it straight away, knowing that it wouldn't last.

I like how the stripes are fatter in the middle and taper off towards the side - just that little bit different. Because of our forced spring cleaning I also switched out our cushions on the couch for others I had in the house. I put away our Kilim cushions and sheep's skin that we have out for winter.

Again, looking at this photo reminds me that I need to do something about those couch legs - paint them or invest in these beauties?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Food Files

I felt like dessert the other day and had some apples lying around that were not being eaten. I find it hard at this time of the year to find fresh fruit, so I decided to take these lonesome apples and a couple of frozen rasperries and make a simple crumble. I just had enough ingredients to make four individual servings - perfect for our little family. I love the tartness of the berries combined with the sweet crumble and  bite of the oats.

*recipe below

You need:
  • 3 apples
  • cup of frozen or fresh berries
  • 1 table spoon of sugar
  • 2 table spoons of butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of oats
  • smidgen of salt

How to:
  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Slice apples
  • Toss apples with berries and sugar, add to greased ovenproof bowls
  • Crumble butter with brown sugar and oats and salt - don't overwork it or you'll loose your crumbles in melted  butter.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

To be prepared is half the victory

* Long post alert

Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory (Miguel de Cervantes) - we failed on that one - miserably. 

You remember our fireplace we discussed here? The one you saw more pictures of here? Well, after a lot of back and forth and other priorities coming along, we (or should I say I?) decided to bite the bullet and tackle the fireplace. Hubby has always been apprehensive about this project, figuring it would be much harder than we could ever imagine. I kept insisting that the existing tile was not in keeping with our house and had to go and the most cost effective way to address the issue was to take the tile off and try to get back the original white brick - the cost would be our time and a couple of new tiles for the hearth. Makes sense, no?

Well, it all started very promising. While hubby was away with the kids for two days, I tackled phase one and removed the existing tile. First the metal surround was removed and then I popped the tiles off with a crowbar. The tougher ones were cracked with a chisel so the crowbar could get some leverage.This was really easy and except for a couple of scrapes (those tile pieces are sharp) and the rubble I had to remove, this job was done in an hour. Yayyy!

On day one I was left with a fireplace that no longer had ugly tile, but was covered in mortar and grout lines. I would tackle that job the next day.

The next day, I took out the grinder which my husband kindly put out with all the other tools. I expected the mortar to come off in big chunks once the blade hit, but instead it disintegrated into dust. I attempted this for about 20 minutes, looked around me and pulled the emergency brake! This was not going according to plan - I was expecting rubble - not dust! 20 minutes of grinding created so much dust that I spent the next 3 hours cleaning my living room - every surface had to be vacuumed and wiped down. What a pain and disappointment. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Collectible Colours - April

This months collectible colour is purple upon request of my daughter. I thought finding purple in our house would be a breeze, but there was less than you'd think if you don't add eight hot wheels and Barbie brushes.

What is this series about?
For the collectible colours feature I choose a specific colour per month and collect things in my house to arrange and photograph. I can't go out and buy anything to match the colour scheme though, I have to own it  - I find this a great exercise to focus on day-to-day objects and to see if they fit.

Orange, silver & green

Linked to This or That Thursday

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Food Files

Spring calls for asparagus, doesn't it? We often add it as a side, but this time I wanted to attempt something I never dare try before - Hollandaise Sauce! I found it daunting, the egg yolks, the whisking over heat, reducing vinegar, etc. But this time I thought I'd go for the classic asparagus with hollandaise sauce. So I did, and it turned out great and wasn't too hard. Do you want to try?

see below for recipe

Hollandaise Sauce (adapted from TipTopf)

You need:

  • 4 table spoons of vinegar
  • 1/2 onion sliced
  • About 5 pepper corns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 table spoon of cold water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 80-100 grams of butter melted and slightly cooled
  • Salt
  • Lemon (optional)

How to:

  • Add vinegar, onion, pepper and bay leaf into small pan, bring to a boil and reduce liquid to about half.
  • Add approximately 1 table spoon of cold water and sieve the vinegar mixture into a heat proof bowl leaving you with just the liquid.
  • Use a double boiler or heat up water (not boiling) in a pot and put the bowl with vinegar mixture on top.
  • Add the two egg yolks and whisk to a froth.
  • Slowly and under constant whisking add the melted butter until the sauce turns creamy.
  • Season and add a squirt of lemon if you wish. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Taking it outside

Now that the weather is getting warmer I've been thinking about our back yard. While my husband already tackled one item on our list, my main concern is our very narrow and ugly backyard that leads to our side yard. This backyard of ours has a deck that's not to code which leads to a stone patio covered in those hideous pink clover shaped stones with weeds coming through all the cracks.

While we don't have the money to rebuild our backyard this year, we are contemplating on doing a complete demo and preparing for a future step-by-step build. My vision is related to these photos. I am thinking of combining wood decking and natural stone with some simple greenery. I believe by combining the two materials that the space will look wider and since it connects to the side yard this walkway approach would be fitting.

Having stone would also allow us to have a narrow eating area close to the kitchen. Combining the stone with wood decking would also connect the space with a planned landing off the kitchen and wide wooden stairs.

Our backyard also faces south, so we'll have to figure out a way to get some shade. An umbrella looks strange in that space and usually gets in the way, but not having shade won't allow us to eat out there or enjoy the space. I was thinking of creating a modern pergola with a nice post transition as shown in the photo below and maybe even breezy curtains for a real summer feel.

Do you have a challenging back yard? Have you addressed your outdoor space? Do you think combining wood and stone will work to visually widen the space? I'll keep you posted on potential demo this summer.

Helt Enkelt/  Hutker Architects via Desire to Inspire

Stairs to the left, the way we built them at our last house. Perfect for entertaining and using small space to full potential.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Eggs and a long weekend

This weekend was all about eggs - the real ones and chocolate ones. On Friday we coloured almost two dozen of them. On some we used sharpie pens, on others wax pens, some we dipped into different colours and my favourite were the ones we covered in elastic bands before putting them into the dye.

Saturday we spent with a feverish child, running errands, painting a powder room ceiling and picking up hubby's birthday present. And there is some work being done on the fireplace

Sunday was still spent with a sick child who mustered enough energy for the egg hunt and an Easter brunch with family. We took advantage of the beautiful weather and went for our first bike ride of the season!

One more day to go in this long weekend and I hope our little boy wakes up healthy and happy. We might have to make egg salad sandwiches or devilled eggs with all those coloured ones waiting in the fridge.

How was your weekend? Did you have a four or three day weekend? Just chocolate eggs or some hard boiled ones as well?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Food Files

Happy Easter! I hope you get to enjoy a long weekend. We were lucky to receive a box of Swiss chocolate bunnies this past week, along with Swiss Easter candy. The challenge was to keep all these goodies safe from hungry mouths - including mine.

Taking this picture was harder than I thought, having the dark and light in one frame makes it really challenging to get the right exposure. While I'm happy with the details shown on the dark chocolate bunny, the white one is a bit blown out. And while I'm happy how the dark background was captured, the white background is too flat for my taste. Oh and keeping it all straight and aligned is near impossible unless I had glued everything in place with a ruler!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter in a Box

This little Easter in a box is very easy, fast and inexpensive.

I used plastic egg boxes because first I could not find cardboard ones in sizes of six and then I liked that the plastic ones have the paper label that I could take out and replace with coloured craft paper. If you were to use card board boxes you could stick the craft paper on top or add a name tag or even paint it if you wanted.

I chose to add just a little bit of candy and the rest of the box is filled with chalk, play-doh, confetti and silly putty.

I colour coordinated the boxes with the kids favourite colour, added coordinating craft paper and ribbon and finished off with an Easter sticker.

I'm sure this will be a great start to our Sunday Easter egg hunt. What are your plans this Easter weekend?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Over at Design Mom

I am very pleased to have a Living With Kids feature over at Design Mom. This was a lot of fun and thank you to all for the very nice comments! Thanks Gabrielle for having me and welcome to all of you new to this blog.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Stenciled Easter Cards

A large part of our family lives far away, so we usually try to send something for the special holidays. Rather than buying Easter cards this year, we decided to craft some of them ourselves. It was an easy project that entertained the kids one evening after dinner.

Materials needed:
  • Craft paper or ready cut cards in any colour you want (light colour will show paint better)
  • Strong cardboard to cut out stencils (pasta boxes work well because they are slightly laminated and don't get mushy after a first coat of paint)
  • Pencil to draw your stencil
  • Paint brushes
  • Washable paint
  • Mini letter stamps and stamp pad (optional)

  1. Draw your design on the cardboard. I chose eggs because they are simple to draw and cut-out, and make the most sense with a multitude of colour.
  2. Cut out design
  3. Place on card stock where you want design to be
  4. Dab paint brush and brush off excess paint (this was the hardest to control with my kids - they think the more paint the better, but with the stencil almost dry paint brushes work best)
  5. Hold down stencil tightly and dab as much or as little of one colour as you want. Repeat with fresh paint brush and new colour to get multi coloured egg effect.
  6. Ideally, let first painted egg dry and move on to next card. My kids were not patient enough to wait for the paint to dry, therefore you see random paint transfer from the stencil.
  7. Let dry and add words with mini letter stamps.

The next day the cards were signed, put in an envelope and sent off by mail. For those recipients reading - one of those is yours, but which one? Do you create any Easter crafts?

Photos 2,3 & 4 taken by Bruno Doyle