Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Decor in Pictures

Images from West Elm

In the past I have resisted the holiday ramp up that starts in late November.  I didn't want to be all Christmas'ed out before the 25th arrived.  This year though I decided to go with it.  One of my favorite parts about the holiday season is decorating my house.. and enjoying those decorations.  I love watching TV with the Christmas tree lite up or enjoying my window display while driving away.   I am pleased to say that I can kick back and enjoy these decorations now for a solid 3 weeks. This year birch branches are a real feature in much of my decor.  Koda and Kevin were hiking one day and came across a downed birch tree.  We went back the next day with saw in hand to grab as many branches as we could.  Combine that with the fact that Kevin loves to use power tools and cut wood, I have a lot of birch bark candles and branches. 

I have two of these urns that flank my front door.  The greenery is from my Christmas tree and a pine tree they were cutting down where I work. If you keep your eyes open, these materials are everywhere

This was created at the annual door design workshop held at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton.  A militant senior outfitted with a wireless mic guides you through it's creation piece by piece.

I used a mason jar and filled it with tiny spruce branches that needed to by trimmed off the Christmas tree.  I then added some red berry twigs for colour.  You could really put anything in that matched your Christmas decor scheme.

I have birch bark candles, the mason jar with twigs and some pine cone shaped candles as a vignette on a tray that sits on my coffee table.

From my crafty days where I was OBSESSED with painting little ornaments.  I still have them all and they make their way onto my tree each year.  This little bear and placard sit on a small shelf in my kitchen

Gotta have Santa.  The nice thing about most of these decorations is that they can last past Christmas as they aren't super Christmasy...just wintery

On my mantle.  Again the birch bark candles and a mason jar filled with wood berries and cinnamon sticks wrapped up in a festive ribbon.

My favorite this year for sure.  Kevin found this metal bin at a barn and it was perfect for what I had in mind.  I wanted something in my living/dining room that was substantial and that I could light but didn't want another tree.  We started by securing the large birch branches in the bottom of the bin with 2x4's.  We crossed over to construction from crafty a little bit on this one.  Once the braanches were in and secure I filled the bin with pine cones,ornaments, and red berry twigs.  The final touch were Martha Stewart gold leaf branches that you can plug in and light up.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Garam Masala Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

A dark and gloomy All Hallows Eve was upon us. Still undecided at 6:00 if we were going to "Grinch out", turn the lights off and hide in the basement...the Halloween spirit struck. Kevin began hunting for pumpkin carving implements and I scrambled to throw together a costume. Trick or Treaters were few and far between so I thought I would sift through that bowl of pumpkin guts sitting on the counter and try roosting the seeds.  Growing up, a lady across the street always roasted pumpkin seeds on Halloween. Despite the candy and chocolate that was on hand, I remember enjoying the salty crispy seeds after a night of pounding the pavement. I decided to branch out and try a more exotic version of roasted pumpkin seeds using some garam masala spice I've hand on hand for ages. There are lots of recipes for making your own Garam Masala as it is a combination of a bunch of spices.  This recipe definitely has a few steps so make sure you have sometime set aside ... the end product is worth it.

Garam Masala Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

seeds from 1 pumpkin
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp Garam masala spice
2 tsp sea salt

Cut the top of the pumpkin off (if you are carving it for Halloween) or cut it in half. Using a large metal spoon scoop the inside of the pumpkin into a large bowl. You will need to then separate the seeds and place them in a strainer. Rinse the seeds with water removing any bits of pumpkin flesh.

Preheat oven to 375.

Place the seeds in a small saucepan and add 1 tsp of sea salt and enough water to cover the seeds. Simmer over low heat until seeds are softened, about 1 hour.

Drain the water and pat the seeds dry. Throw the seeds back into the saucepan and toss with vegetable oil, 1tsp salt and Garam masala. Place seeds on a baking sheet in an single layer (you might need 2 baking sheets).

Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring once, or until seeds are golden brown.  Add another sprinkle of sea salt is you like them salty!

Monday, July 16, 2012

No Bake Blueberry Crisp

We have been experiencing some seriously scorching temps. in Southern Ontario this summer.  My crazy dog can barely handle a spin around the park without his tongue  dragging on the ground, eager to jump into his pool as soon as we walk through the backyard gate (yes, Koda has his own pool).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Garlic Scape and Lemony Linguine

Farmer's Markets are in full force in Southern Ontario.  I am always amazed by what I see sitting on thier rustic little folding tables.  An array of veggies and fruits...many of which I have cannot identify.  Last year I discover jicama and kohlrabi.  This year, garlic scapes.  Garlic scapes are the shoots that grow up from the garlic bulb itself with a mild garlic favour and a texture similar to asparagus.  I saw these bright green, tangled stems at the Locke St. Farmers Market and decided to bring them home.  As it was nearing the end of the market, the farmer gave me a 2 for 1 deal!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Potluck picnic in the park

We celebrated Father's Day with a potluck picnic in the park (say that 3 times fast!)  I made muffins for the picnic that Kevin described as "salad muffins" when he saw all the ingredients laid out on the counter...carrots, zucchini, apples, raisins, walnuts.  They were a hit with the 6 to 60 year old crowd!  I did nothing to this recipe and followed it ingredient for ingredient.  People were asking for the recipe so instead of re-typing it, here is the link.

Morning Glory Muffins from  An Avocado a Day

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Banana Oatmeal Chia Seed Muffins

With no brown rice syrup on hand to make my go to energy bars for the week I opted to use some of the bananas that are slowly starting to take over my freezer. Like the Lemon Chia Seed Muffins, I used the Jean Pare Muffins and More cookbook as a starting point. You could doctor these up with nuts, chocolate chips, or raisins. I decided to keep it basic. Like the lemon chia seed muffins, I found that the batter is kind of elastic for lack of a better term and the muffins turn out almost chewy. I think this is a function of the chia seed getting a gelatinous coating around them when introduced to liquid. In addition to adding chia seeds, the other modifications I made were halving the sugar, substituting apple sauce for canola oil, and adding some cinnamon.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Grilled Strawberries and Basil Vanilla Gelato

I started this blog in the depths of winter when I was likely to be found in my "uniform" of track pants and hoody by 6:30 and unlikely to leave the house after that.  The nice weather and longer days have changed that...they always do.  Heading out at 8:00pm seems totally normal and PJ's do not get put on until right before I go to bed.  I just really like to be outside during the spring and summer.  Instead of puttering around my kitchen as I do in the fall and winter, I putter in the garden, talk my dog for, another, stroll around the park, or go for a spin on my bike.