Loving…

Not to be a cliché or anything, but can you believe it’s June 1st tomorrow!? We are almost halfway through the year. I guess the old saying of “time flies when you’re having fun” rings true. Now that I was able to crack out my first skirt/t-shirt combo of the season, I’m finally starting to get excited about summer. There will be a lot going on over the next couple of months, not least of all my upcoming birthday (disclaimer: it’s still about a month and a half away, but I like to start the countdown early).

Listening:

Without fail, this song is always in my top 5 favourites. The ups and downs, and Eddie Vedder’s voice, make it such a dynamic track – I can listen to it on repeat for hours.

Reading:

Anything and everything I can about gardening. I tried to plant the indoor mini-herb garden I got as a housewarming gift and it’s been 48 hours, with nothing sprouting. Either I did it wrong or I just don’t know how long sprouting should take. Thus, trying to educate myself.

There should be a question mark here...

There should be a question mark here…

Craving:

Macaroons from Bobbette & Belle. Oh, and their cupcakes, too.

b&b macaroons

Planning:

To get some things done around the house this weekend. And finally try Ed’s Real Scoop – how  have I not yet tried the ice cream that is literally around corner from me!? Something about summer makes me want to eat dessert, which kind of goes against the whole “bathing suit season” mentality. Go figure.

Happy June, everyone!

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Sweet Summer Salad (With a Kick!)

I will readily admit that I’m not the cook in my relationship. I can cook and do on occasion, but by and large my boyfriend handles that part. When I do cook, maybe because of the fact that it’s not an everyday occurrence, I like to get as creative as possible. Last night, I made a salad (that I personally think is a keeper). It has some fantastic flavours within it – sweet, caramelized pears juxtaposed with blue cheese, and Dijon chicken breast. It’s the perfect meal for a warm summer night, best enjoyed on a balcony or in a backyard.

sweet summer salad

What You’ll Need (Ingredients):

Serves 2

2 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)

2 large, ripe Bartlett pears (halved, cored and thinly sliced)

Blue cheese (crumbled)

3 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 medium shallot, minced

1 cup olive oil

Honey (to taste)

Baby arugula (or mixed greens or lettuce)

Walnuts, roasted (optional)

What to Do:

For Chicken Breast

1. In a bowl, mix together 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil and half the minced shallot.

minced shallots

2. In a Ziploc bag, place your chicken breasts and the mixture above, close, and shake well to coat.

3. Leave overnight in your fridge, or at least for a few hours to allow for the chicken to marinade.

4. Set oven temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. While oven heats up, pan sear the chicken breast for about a minute on each side, in an oven-friendly pan. Place the pan with the chicken into the oven and allow to cook for 20 minutes (or until juices run clear).

5. Remove from oven, slice, and allow to cool.

For the Salad:

1. In a bowl, mix together 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil and half the minced shallot. Set aside.

2. Heat a tsp of olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat. While pan heats, carefully coat each pear slice with enough honey to thinly cover both sides.

4. Place the coated pear slices into the heated pan and allow to fry until they are slightly caramelized on both sides.

pears

5. Coat arugula in the olive oil/Dijon/shallot mixture until it is well covered.

6. Plate a handful of arugula with the chicken overtop and the pears on the side. Sprinkle with blue cheese and walnuts to taste.

Thinking About Backsplashes

I love backsplashes. There, I said it! As far as kitchens go, backsplashes are kind of my favourite thing. There are so many different styles and options to choose from, all of which can completely change the vibe of a kitchen. We’ve been watching a lot of home reno shows lately and the one thing all of the kitchen ones have in common is how much emphasis is placed on the backsplash. And it make sense. Aside from the cabinets, the thing that draws people in the most is the wall in your kitchen. Incidentally, the backsplash is also the one place you can really get creative with pops of built-in colour and patterns. Where your cabinets, appliances and countertop tend to be uniform in colour and style, your backsplash can be as wild and crazy as you’d like.

First off, you need to decide the look you’re going for in your kitchen – rustic, modern, metallic, vintage, retro. This will determine what kind of backsplash to go looking for. Making the backsplash decision should not be left until the last-minute as an afterthought – a good backsplash is included in the planning of the kitchen from day one.

Subway Tile: a fabourite. Big, white and bold tiles with definitive grout lines in between. Adds a modern/rustic charm to any kitchen. via The Kitchn.

Subway Tile: a favourite. Big, white and bold tiles with definitive grout lines in between. Adds a modern/rustic charm to any kitchen. via The Kitchn.

Mediterranean Accent: bold and beautiful, this style works great in a large accent space. Perfect for a bare bones, white kitchen. via Design Sponge.

Mediterranean Accent: bold and beautiful, this style works great in a large accent space. Perfect for a bare bones, white kitchen. via Design Sponge.

Modern Metallic: for a much more modern look, this backsplash pops. It's enough to just have a section of it rather than have it cover your whole wall. via HGTV.

Modern Metallic: for a much more modern look, this backsplash pops. It’s enough to just have a section of it rather than have it cover your whole wall. via HGTV.

Checkered: I LOVE this style. The blue and white is a nice colour combo, but you can get creative with the choice of tile colour. This is a very bold pattern that adds a vintage feel to kitchens. via Design Sponge.

Checkered: I LOVE this style. The blue and white is a nice colour combo, but you can get creative with the choice of tile colour. This is a very bold pattern that adds a retro feel to kitchens. via Design Sponge.

Bold and Black: For a completely bold look, all black tiles do the trick. Against stainless steel appliances and a white/light kitchen, you're making quite a statement. via House Beautiful.

Bold and Black: For a completely bold look, all black tiles do the trick. Against stainless steel appliances and a white/light kitchen, you’re making quite a statement. via House Beautiful.

For some DIY tips (if you’re feeling adventurous and want to take this on yourself), HGTV has some great tips on how to tile your kitchen backsplash.

Loving…

I don’t know how it happens, but there are certain weeks where it feels like I barely see the inside of my own house. The last week has been busy with the long weekend, lots of friends visits, and work creeping up, but I’ve loved getting more and more into the swing of summer (even though we have yet to do much to our balcony…soon, though!)

Listening:

In honour of the Cannes premiere of Ryan Gosling’s new film with the director of Drive, I’m re-listening to the amazing soundtrack from that wonderful movie. The pseudo-80s, techno feel of the songs is all sorts of right. While I’m hoping that the new collaboration – Only God Forgives – will be as epic, it got negative reviews so far (who boos Ryan Gosling!? I mean, really!?)…

Decorating:

My iPhone case with these tongue-in-cheek stickers (made from REAL wood!). Thanks, Alli, for sharing these with me.

From Indigo

From Indigo

Craving:

Some food truck food (thinking: Toronto Underground Market (TUM) style). There’s something about food on-the-go from a quality vendor (not hot dogs) that just makes my mouth salivate. I was so happy when I heard that there would be food vendors at the Field Trip Festival in June – can’t wait!

Wanting:

A bathroom tray to hold the odds and ends that seem to accumulate…as simple as it may seem, I’ve been on the hunt for one for quite some time.

c/o West Elm.

c/o West Elm.

Happy last weekend of May (where does the time go!?)!

Poppa-corn

Summer time is movie time. This seems a bit counterintuitive, because it’s the nice time of year where there isn’t snow or blistering cold winds or layers upon layers of clothing that still isn’t warm enough. We should all be outside, enjoying every last morsel of sun, but summertime also happens to be the time for blockbuster movies. While I’m a huge movie fan, I think for me, going to the cinema is mostly about the experience rather than the picture itself. And a large part of that experience is the popcorn.

popcorn

But here’s the deal with cinema popcorn – as amazing as it tastes (especially if you do like I do and double – sometimes triple – layer butter on it), it’s pretty much as far away from a healthy snack as you can get. So knowing that I’m trying to be (a little) healthier and that my metabolism is just nearing that age where it’s about to give up on me completely, I scoured around for some make-it-at-home popcorn recipes that hit the spot without all the badness. These recipes you can take with you, or enjoy when you’re catching up on something from the comfort of your own couch on a rainy Sunday. Also, in the move we gave up having a microwave so I have to find a replacement for the 1 minute, 15 seconds land of popcorn readiness.

– First, the popcorn: if you really want to be a purist and are absolutely dying to make popcorn that isn’t Jiffy Pop, this recipe from Simply Recipes seems to do the trick. Old school, stove-top, deliciously crunchy popcorn.

– Then, the flavour: if you’re going to do it, do it right and don’t just add butter. I love this recipe for spicy caramel popcorn from Smitten Kitchen because you get the flavour as you cook the popcorn. For something a little more savoury, this garlic, thyme and parmesan recipe sounds like it hits the spot – cheesy popcorn is the best. And, of course, there’s the salty popcorn, which takes a twist with this recipe that adds honey to it for a perfect mix of sweet and salty. 

– Finally, have some fun: popcorn’s great and all but it’s even better in ball form. Kind of like rice crispy squares, popcorn balls just make something great that much greater. Here’s a traditional popcorn ball recipe c/o Martha Stewart – but you can add your own twist to it by seasoning the popcorn, adding caramel, chocolate, or anything else your heart desires.

popcorn balls

 

Think you know wallpaper?

I’ve always had an aversion to wallpaper. Specifically, I’ve had an aversion to that yellow/green 70s style wallpaper plastered in every room of every grandmother’s house. You know, the one with the awful patterns that people in home reno shows always point to and say “THAT will definitely have to go…it makes this (kitchen/bathroom/living room) look sooo outdated!”

But, as with most things, it doesn’t help to think about what something was but rather look at what it is now. Wallpaper has made a huge comeback lately, and I’m totally ready to jump on the bandwagon. With modern design and aesthetics, wallpaper (like decals) is a great way to decorate without painting just one colour. Unlike decals, however, wallpaper requires you to commit a bit more – getting it up and, more importantly off, can be a bit of a challenge. But if you’re up for it, wallpaper can add some great dimensions to a room:

Wallpaper can be used on any wall...including the ceiling! I love the subtlety of this particular design, via Apartment Therapy.

Wallpaper can be used on any wall…including the ceiling! I love the subtlety of this particular design, via Apartment Therapy.

 

I love this pattern for a kid's room or nursery. From Jill Malek, c/o Apartment Therapy.

I love this pattern for a kid’s room or nursery – either as an accent wall or the whole room. From Jill Malek, c/o Apartment Therapy.

 

The look of texture this wallpaper brings is fantastic. Imagine this as a backsplash in a kitchen! Via Anthropologie.

The look of texture this wallpaper brings is fantastic. Imagine this as a backsplash in a kitchen! Via Anthropologie.

If you're not quite ready to take the plunge on a full wall or even a full room of wallpaper, you can simply take a sheet of it and frame it up for a touch of design and unique pattern in a room. Via Real Simple.

If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge on a full wall or even a full room of wallpaper, you can simply take a sheet of it and frame it up for a touch of design and unique pattern in a room. Via Real Simple.

 

I really like the idea of using a geometric pattern wallpaper as a backsplash or as an accent wall in a living or bedroom. If you’re up for a little reading, Houzz has a brief history of wallpaper, from its origins in the early-15th century to today. You’ll see the textures and designs evolve over time, and may even be inspired by something very retro. And, of course, here are a few tips on how to actually apply your fabulous new wallpaper.

It’s been a while…

With two sicknesses in as many months (and, as a result, a whole lot of stuff to catch up on at work and in life whenever I felt better), I missed posting last week. But now that everything is back in its place, the impromptu hiatus is over. You’ll see more from me starting tomorrow…but today, Happy Victoria Day to all the Canadians out there! Enjoy the last day of the long weekend.

What summer is all about (missing: marshmallows roasting)

What summer is all about (missing: marshmallows roasting)

Loving…

You know what’s not fun? Getting sick twice within a month, AND when it’s just starting to get warm out. Total first world problems. On that note, though, I am excited to get this weekend started.

Listening:

I heard this song for the first time in “Pitch Perfect” (a movie I will fully admit to watching more than once), but I have liked whatever I heard from the Naked and the Famous in the past. Their songs remind me of driving in the summertime with the windows down and shades on.

Craving:

A pie…like this

pie

Planning:

A big spring cleaning! I definitely have to do something about my hot-mess of a closet situation (make room for new clothes?), and now’s the perfect time. One thing about cohabitating is that you suddenly have half the clothing storage space you used to have…

should i stay or should i go

Wishing:

All the mommas out there the HAPPIEST Mothers Day! I know it’s said time and time again, but they are amazing and I don’t know how they do what they do. Mine especially – she’s pretty awesome!

Last year's high tea celebration at MoRoCo.

Last year’s high tea celebration at MoRoCo.

Contest Alert: Small and Cool? Yes, please…

small cool

Apartment Therapy (aka my go-to home style website) is currently running a really cool contest. From now until May 20th, people are invited to submit pictures of their apartments for the 9th Annual Small Cool Contest. This contest sources entries for the coolest, smallest apartment out there and really showcases the fact that even tiny spaces can make a big impression.

If you live in the States there are some amazing prizes to be won that can go a long way to help you with home decor or renos. If, like me however, you live internationally, you’re competing for the glory of being featured on their site (which isn’t a bad prize, to be honest).

My favourite so far in an entry from Singapore – just 570 square feet, with irregular walls to boot, and it looks so spacious and well-decorated. Really inventive use of space and decor.

Two views of this cool Singapore apartment

Two views of this cool Singapore apartment

If you’re currently in an apartment that’s small (1,000 sq ft or less) but so stylish, you should totally enter!

Perfect Summer Snack? Chips and Guac.

Maybe it’s because of the fact that Cinco de Mayo was yesterday, or maybe it’s just because of the fact that the warm weather means spring is officially here, but I’ve had a serious craving for chips and guacamole all weekend! I didn’t get to indulge, but I am planning on making some this week. Guacamole is so easy to make and almost requires no recipe – just some basic ingredients and your own flair.

My Take on Guacamole:

Ingredients

Avocados (3-4, ripe)

Lime juice (fresh squeezed, or you can use this Lime Juice that they sell in grocery stores)

Corn (canned)

1 ripe tomato, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Cut the avocados in half and scoop out the insides into a bowl.

2. Mash the avocados using a fork until you reach your desired level of chunkiness (I prefer it a bit chunky, but it’s a complete “to taste” thing)

3. Add about 2 teaspoons of the lime juice, and a handful of the corn and diced tomato

4. Mix together, adding salt and pepper to taste

5. Enjoy!

Normally I would just crack out some store-bought chips to go with that delicious guac, but I recently found a recipe that I can’t wait to try out for homemade, bistro-style chips! The thing I like about this recipe is that it uses simple ingredients, and you can fry it or bake it (if you’re going for an extra-healthy option). These chips remind me of the kind you’d get in Mexico proper – crispy, tortilla-y and so perfect for scooping!

These go great with a refreshing cerveza, like maybe a Corona.