Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wedding Wednesday- Flowers and Palette

I have finally picked my florist...After meeting and chatting with so many wonderful girls, I have decided to go with Wine Country Floral. We chose Shelly because she has lots of experience, she is clearly passionate about the flowers I have chosen, and she does gorgeous work. Seriously...go check out her website.

I think I've mentioned before that our palette for the day is pink and cream with brown and gold accents, but for the flower scheme we are also going to infuse a little bit of a soft green. My inspiration for the palette comes from this gorgeous Japanese paper from Paper Source:



This picture doesn't even begin to capture how truly stunning this paper really is. It's a thick, fabric-like material, and the pattern is actually silk-screened. The white background is pearlescent, and the entire design is outlined with gold (which doesn't come through at all on the picture.) Essentially, I purchased this paper based on the picture thinking it was lovely, then when I pulled it out of the box, I almost fell off my chair.

My original hope was to have cherry blossoms as my flowers throughout...That fell through when I was told that they are only in season in March and April. I didn't lose heart though, since I knew that my FAVOURITE of all flowers, the peony, was still barely in season, and my paper would still make sense based on the rest of the colours.



The best part about choosing peonies is that my mother (an avid gardener) has THE most gorgeous and abundant peonies in her backyard garden. I'll be able to incorporate some of her flowers into my bouquet, making it even more personal and special...



See? Perfect!

I originally wanted pink hydrangeas, which meant my florist would have to spray white ones, since pink is apparently not a natural colour for hydrangeas...I was not really into that idea, so when the "antique" hydrangea come to my attention, I was thrilled. This light green beauty has a hint of pink blushing on the tips of the petals.



We'll be using these in the centrepieces with cream peonies, and hypericum berries, which are these little beauties:



The corsages and boutonnieres will all be constructed with cymbidium orchids and green hypericum berries.



I am too excited to get a few mock ups done so I can post more specific pictures....I'll get to it!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy New Year



The time is drawing nigh to really start to reflect on the past year, and decide what aspects of myself I want to change or improve upon. I, like 99% of people, am TERRIBLE at keeping my New Years resolutions...but that never stops me from trying! This year, my focus is going to be not on what I want to do LESS, but what I want to do MORE...I know it seems like semantics, but research has shown that wording goals positively has a higher rate of success...so here it goes!



This year I resolve to

1. Be active MORE consistently: I am the type of perfectionist who does nothing if she can't do it perfectly....That means if I miss one workout during the week, I call the week a write-off and resolve to do it perfectly starting next week. The only problem with this system is that I inevitably repeat the cycle...every.single.week.

2. Eat MORE vegetables: I must admit that I already do quite well on this front, but there's always room to improve.

3. Speak MORE French



I suppose rather than listing everything I want to do this new year, I could sum it up by simply saying that I want to live a more inspired life this 2010...I want it to include more creating, designing, trying new things, and rediscovering old hobbies (ice skating, anyone?). You know I'll be chronicling my adventures (and misadventures) here...so you'll be well informed of my progress.



Lucky you, right?

No matter where you are this New Year, I hope it's the best one yet!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!



Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand.





My Christmas wish this year, is that all of you have a safe and happy 2010!

<3

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Curried Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

I have been AWOL for the past week, and for that I apologize. It seems the expectations of the season have left me with little time do anything else. Today I am hitting the shops to find myself a Christmas outfit, and round up some last minute gifts. For dinner, I'll be using my leftover chicken curry to make a delicious chicken pot pie...you can make one too, using this recipe:




Curried Chicken Pot Pie
Recipe adapted from Canadian Family

Ingredients

* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 1 cup diced sweet onion
* 2 cups sliced carrots (1/4-inch thick)
* 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
* 1 tbsp hot curry powder
* 2 tsp kosher salt
* 2 tbsp all purpose flour
* 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
* 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
* 1 can (400 mL) coconut milk
* 1 cup chicken stock (low sodium)
* 1 (2-lb) store-bought rotisserie chicken, meat removed and shredded (about 4-5 cups)
* 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
* 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
* 1 egg lightly beaten

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.
2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often
for 3 minutes or until soft. Add next seven ingredients. Stir and cook for 2
minutes. Add coconut milk, stock, chicken and parsley, and season with salt and
pepper. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer to thicken, about 3-5 minutes. Remove
from heat, smooth top to level out mixture and set aside.
3. Roll out thawed puff pastry sheet lightly. Cut pastry to fit over top of curry
mixture in dutch oven. Vent mixture by cutting slits in the dough with the sharp
point of a paring knife. Brush the crust lightly with the beaten egg. Bake 30
minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling bubbles. Let stand 10 minutes
before serving.

Tip: If you don’t have a Dutch oven, sauté onions in a large pot. Then add remaining 11 ingredients as per recipe instructions. Transfer to 11 x 9-inch ovenproof dish, top with pie crust and bake.

Enjoy it, and keep warm!

I won't be posting daily for the next two weeks, but I'll do my best to keep you updated as regularly as possible.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's a {Green} Wrap!

I know that we are all trying to be as ecologically conscious as possible these days, but the Christmas season does tend to make that a little bit more difficult. It seems that "consuming" is the name of the game when it comes to Christmas...There is just so much waste from product packaging, to wrapping paper, to tissue, to ribbon, to gift bags, to gift tags and gift cards...it's a LOT to be throwing away on December 26th! But what can we do? Unwrapped gifts lack the elements of anticipation and surprise, so that's not an option for me, but neither is buying rolls of wrapping paper only to rip them up and throw them away! I have scoured the internet for the best wrapping ideas I could find, so that I could pass them along to all of you...Enjoy!

Once washed and turned inside out, chip bags make pretty wrapping paper...



Furoshiki is the Japanese art of wrapping presents with fabric. I would HIGHLY recommend checking out the link to learn more...You could use any fabric you have laying around the house, or incorporate the wrapping as part of the present..a silk scarf, a vintage handkerchief or a cashmere throw would all make sumptuous wrapping/present options.



Try sewing your own fabric gift bags using this simple tutorial...



Maps, especially vintage maps, make gorgeous wrapping paper...



Newspaper- especially the comics



If you have children, replacing wrapping paper with one of their prolific pieces of artwork will put it to good use...



Calendar pages make interesting wrapping material...




You could also use ornaments in place of bows...Why not try this tutorial to make a felt bow? I can be used year after year...and it's LOVELY!



I know it's extra work to wrap your presents in these ways, but it's WELL worth it...buying something for the sole purpose of throwing it away is soooooo 2001.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wedding Wednesday...Updates!

So, as per the genius idea of my friend Suzy I have sent my Save the Dates with my Christmas cards. For all those I don't personally know (and there are a few of them coming to my wedding) I will be sending them out after Christmas. I'm not sure if I ever posted the finished product, but here they are...


I had them done by ADT in Niagara. They did an amazing job, and I would recommend them to anyone! I am going to be using their services for my wedding banner too...more on that later.

I have ordered my cake topper...I opted for the birds instead of the monogram. I am over monograms...they are totally overdone.



I am also considering an aisle runner with the "Oh Happy Day" saying on it and our bee...I'm looking at about $200 minimum for that though, so I may have to rethink that one...or I could just find a way to do it myself for less...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Finally, The Nutcracker has Arrived!



I LOVE ballet. It's one of the most beautiful forms of artistic expression. The levels of skill and strength required to perform well are astronomical, and even more impressive considering this skill and strength comes from impishly-thin women often suffering from some form of malnourishment or osteoporosis. But I digress...I am TOO excited that my favourite show has returned to the National Ballet, and I am not missing it this year. Thus far I have missed Gisele and Sleeping Beauty...I think I have watched MORE than enough hockey to finally warrant a trip to the ballet. Enough said.

I have been in love with Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker score since my very early childhood. I love to listen to it while I wrap presents, get my Christmas baking and cleaning done, or while I complete any Christmas-related task. My parents, of course, noticed my love for the music and thus took me to see the show at the age of eight. I was mesmerized by the opulence of the set, and the grace of the ballerinas. That experience has stayed with me, vividly for many years...and now it's time to go back. I watch it on television nearly every year, but it's NOT the same...







As a member of DanceBreak (it's an information source for the National Ballet School and it's free to join) you are entitled to day-of $25 tickets...if you're under 30. I am certain that this offer does not extend to tickets for The Nutcracker, but here is the link for DanceBreak in case you are interested in other shows (hint: Swan Lake...You can never have too mcuh Tchaikovsky!)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Weekend Recap

Wow! It seems as the weeks get closer to Christmas, the days go by faster and faster! This weekend flew by, but it was packed full of fun! On Friday we went to our friend's housewarming party...met lots of nice people and, although they're just getting set up, I can tell the place is going to look AMAZING!

On Saturday, I spent the day making some stockings for Steve and I. I used a French toile de joie pattern, and I think they turned out quite well.


I'm thinking about embroidering our names on them in cream on the cuff, but I haven't decided for sure yet.

On Sunday we had the in-laws for dinner, so we mostly spent the day cleaning...you know how it is...Thanks to the Smitten Kitchen and The Martha (of course) I made quite a delicious dinner, if I do say so myself. I HIGHLY recommend all of these recipes. The roast recipe is one that I use over and over, because it's so darn delish...and the brussels sprouts recipe is my new favourite veggie recipe!

Sunday Night Dinner Menu

Roast Beef with Caramelized Shallots

Photo from Martha Stewart

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Seasoned Salt

Photo from Martha Stewart

Balsamic Braised Brussels with Panetta

Photo from Smitten Kitchen

Vanilla Roasted Pears

Photo from the Smitten Kitchen

Finally, an annual tradition to top the weekend off...watching Muppet Christmas Carol with hot apple cider and popcorn...not the same without my sister or my Kelly, though my dogs were a close second.



ps...I KNOW that red tray has to go...and I'm working on it...the Fiance likes the random red...I am sure some might think it's sooooo 2007, but I am still in love with this Oscar de la Renta Chevron tray:



but you know I'll have to DIY...it's not sane to spend $300 on a tray. I'm thinking some wallpaper should give the same graphic effect. We'll see.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Crafts to Keep You Busy!

My crafty selections for this week have made me VERY excited! How CUTE is that zipper headband? Come on weekend, I want to get started now!

Zipper Headband from Cut Out and Keep


Bedside Caddy from Sew 4 Home


Snow Buddy from Purl Bee


Note Pad from Mfn Inc


Coffee Cozy from House on Hill Road


Enjoy your weekend, all...and try to do something that truly makes you happy! Next week I am hoping to return to some more structured living. This was certainly not my best week, but I am getting back on track starting with this weekend. Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Soup to Warm Your Soul

This soup is my adapted version of the French classic, Cassoulet. It's hearty and delicious, and it promises to warm you from the inside out on the chilliest of winter days. Enjoy!



Cassoulet
INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 slices bacon sliced
1 lb pork loin cut into 1-inch cubes
3 links PC Blue Menu Light Italian Sausage sliced into rounds
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp herbs de province
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 28oz can diced tomato
1 cup white wine (I used riesling, but you can use any you like)
1 cup chicken stock
1 can (about 15 ounces each) white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS
Cook bacon and onion in large skillet over medium-high heat, drain off some of the fat. Add sausage and pork to pan and cook 8-10 minutes, or until pork and sausage are browned. Pour wine into pan and scrape up brown bits off the pan as it reduces. Transfer to slow cooker. Stir in remaining ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low 8-9 hours

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Late, Late, Late Wedding Wednesday

So I have just realized that I am 6.5 months away from walking down the aisle. While that may sound like forever to some, to me it seems like tomorrow. If it were tomorrow however, the only regret I would have is not getting into some wicked shape before the day. With Christmas and the general stress of being a "grown up," I have definitely not been as diligent with my fitness routine as I have been in the past...So much so that I am actually canceling my membership to my beautiful gym in the new year...$100/month when I've gone like 12 times tops makes NOOOOO sense. I have a free gym in my building, and I use that much more often.

I've found a few plans that I can likely institute without too much trouble, but I like this one from the knot the best...But if I REALYY want to be hardcore the January issue of Oxygen has a pretty good routine too...decisions, decisions.

My fitness inspiration: Jamie Eason


My fitness goals have less to do with being hot walking down the aisle, and more do with de-stressing and generally trying to get more healthy...oh yeah, and I'll be wearing bikinis for two weeks straight on my honeymoon. If that's not inspirational, what is?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Loving this Commercial

I just love commercials with a vintage French vibe...although I suppose I could rewrite that statement as "I just love _____________ with a vintage French vibe." Last night I encountered this gorgeous La Vie Grand Marnier commercial...It's predominantly orange, of course (pssst...in case you didn't know, Grand Marnier is an orange liqueur) and it reminds me of the art on some of the books my mom has kept from her childhood in the '60's.

Without further ado, La Vie Grand Marnier!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Favourite Things

Yipee! It's snowing today!!!
I have to say that winter is one of my favourite seasons. It's cold, yes, but it offers so many more opportunities for introspection and a slower pace of life than summer or spring. Before you write me off as certifiable, allow me to explain myself...

There is nothing better than cozying up by the fire with a good book on a blizzardy afternoon with some hot apple cider...

Photo courtesy of adrenalinecrush

I love the satisfying "crunch" of fresh, untrodden snow underfoot. This is best experienced during an invigorating winter walk at Balls Falls, or really anywhere in my Niagara hometown, where you can experience winter beauty in its purest form...

This is a picture of the lower falls at Balls Falls Conservation Area. Every year they freeze in place...it looks absolutely breathtaking!
Photo courtesy of Parente Photo Arts

I love the exhilarating feeling of whipping down the face of a steep hill piled high with snow drifts on a plastic disk. I love seeing rosy cheeks partially hidden behind thick, wooly scarves and feeling the icy winter air going into my lungs like mint, and coming out like smoke. Tobogganing is a must-do winter activity for me...even at 26...


Photo courtesy of Ferntree

There is something about the comforting foods of winter that warms through to the soul. I adore all the foods of winter, the soups, the stews, the roasted root vegetables...Not to mention the winter beverages...Hot Toddy with Apple Cider, anyone?
Photo courtesy of The Garden of Eating

Shopping can be a little trying admittedly, over the winter season. The crowds of rushed, rude people and the dreaded parking lots can leave even the most dedicated shopper turned off...But the prettily decorated shop windows make it VERY easy to do a little window shopping!




Photos courtesy of The Cherry Blossom Girl


So don't be afraid of a little chill in the air! Grab your sweetie or your best friend and take a winter stroll together. Do some exploring...Who knows what sort of beauty you'll encounter?


Photo Courtesy of Wino Fred