Saturday, December 20, 2008

Swimming in Chocolate-Part 2


So...I get a call from my SIL the other night. After several minutes of small talk she mentions that they might stop by for a visit. Then, ever so casually, she asks if the ice cream sandwiches are ready. "Not yet," I say "Maybe tomorrow." "Maybe we will stop by tomorrow instead," she says.

I make these sandwiches every year using my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. I add some crushed candy canes to the dough and freeze the cookies after baking. I fill each sandwich with candy cane ice cream and then I pour melted chocolate on top. I set the sandwiches on cookie sheets and put them in the freezer until the chocolate sets. I then wrap them into individual bundles and wait for the visitors to drop by.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Swimming in Chocolate



I love to play with chocolate. This year I started with chocolate truffles. They are a great treat for teachers and are wonderful hostess gifts. I use a recipe taken from my favorite cooking magazine Fine Cooking. You can customize the delicious ganache filling with any number of flavours. I like to do two different selections. This time I made one with Amaretto liqueur and the other with Grand Marnier and a mix of candied ginger and orange peel.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Walk in the woods



Today I took a walk in the woods. Alone with my thoughts in the quiet of the forest, I saw splashes of red and green across the often bleak tapestry of winter.





I was reminded that the forest is never completely asleep. The birds keep their lonely vigil in all manner of weather and the streams keep flowing despite obstacles of ice and snow.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Welcome Winter



Winter has arrived in Nova Scotia. Its a little earlier than most of us expected. There were alot of problems on the road last night. Many people were stranded on the highway overnight after a number of vehicles became unable to climb hills and other cars lost control causing the roads to be blocked off.

I was fortunate to have been in a very peaceful setting for the arrival of Old Man Winter. I was practicing Yoga in a room of like minded people. The lights were off and the candles were lit. We watched serenely as the snow drifted by and the trees became laden with snow. OHHHHMMMM......

Friday, October 31, 2008

Beadiful Things

HalftimeContest

Q. What is better than a blog giveaway?

A. A blog giveaway from one of your favorite makers of beautiful(beadiful) things. Follow the link and check it out!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Etsy Mom Giveaway!

The Etsymom Street Team is prepping for the holidays by taking the time-honored tradition of gift-giving to another level! Riding the wave of unity, harmony and excitement inspired by the Etsymom Trunk Show in September, our team tossed around a few ideas about our next team event. A little idea of having a giveaway, where Moms would donate an item to be given away each day of November on our blog has morphed into a SUPER GIVEAWAY!! When the call for volunteers went out we had an overwhelming response of over 60 shops willing to donate a $10.00 in value item to this cause. Two winners will be randomly chosen everyday to receive one of over 50 prizes.. Donations will range from an assortment of hand embroidery, vintage finds, hair clippies, baby accessories, paper crafts, earthenware pottery and more. Perfect for gift-giving! There is a little bit of everything, so whether you like trendy, shabby chic, traditional or retro styles, you're sure to find something! Don't miss this ONLINE EXTRAVAGANZA. Visit us here beginning November 1st for giveaway rules and deadlines!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Love Revolution



I am an official member of the Love Revolution. Lenny Kravitz rocked our little Nova Scotia town last night. WOW! It was an amazing show. I have been a fan for almost twenty years now and he did not disappoint. He put on a high energy show with a group of phenomenal musicians. He whipped the crowd into a frenzy like some kind of messianic god of rock. He strutted, cooed and sang us all into submission. Its hard to imagine a better show than this one. Thanks Lenny! I AM ready for the love revolution!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thankful

Today I am thankful.


Thankful for the hands that picked the apples.
Thankful for the hands that peeled the apples.
Thankful for the hands that rolled the dough.



Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Six Random Things

I have been "tagged" in blog game by fellow etsymom cinnamon spice



The game is called Six random things. So here are six random things about me....

1. I love the smell of new books. I can't resist sinking my nose in them and taking a prolonged sniff.

2. I have been practicing yoga twice a week for the last two years and have really grown to love it. OHHHHHMM

3. I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was younger but was frightened away when I found out there would be mathematics involved.

4. I love the Barry Manilow song "Coca Cabana". I can't explain why but I just can't resist it.

5. I have only gone downhill skiing once and, while it was terrifying, I had a great time.

6. My husband and I are hoping to visit Italy in the coming year to celebrate our fortieth birthdays and fifteen years of marriage.

Now it's your turn. I would like to tag some ladies of the etsy sisterhood. The lovely, mommy holly, the wonderful wEtsy Behind the Ears, the talented Beadiful things, and my fellow Canadian Jewlzodonnell's Weblog

To play you must list six things about yourself and then tag up to six people to do the same. Enjoy!
Hope you will join me!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pickleliscious



I love the fall! I love the cool breezes, the falling leaves and freshly picked apples. Its a great time of the year to bring out all the mason jars and try to capture a little taste of the summer to get you through the long cold winter. I was recently gifted some cucumbers from somebody's garden. Sadly, I have not yet developed a green thumb and my garden clearly reflects that. I dug out my cookbooks and settled on this recipe:

Curry Pickle Slices

2 quarts pickling cucumbers
4 small onions, sliced
1 TBSP pickling salt
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 TBSP curry powder
2 tsp pickling spice
1 tsp each celery seeds and mustard seeds

Cut cucs into thick slices. Place with onions in non reactive container and sprinkle with salt. Let stand 24 hours. Drain and rinse twice.

Combine vinegar, sugar, curry powder, pickling spice, celery seeds, and mustard seeds in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Remove from heat.

Add veg and return to a boil. Remove from heat.

Pack into sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Process for 10- 15 minutes (depending on size of jars)


Smells great, tastes great. I like it. I think, for me, the best part is the smell of the raw onions and cucs after they have been resting together overnight. One of my favorite fall smells!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cake Hangover



This weekend we celebrated #1 son's birthday with cake. Not one cake. Not two cakes. Three different kinds of cake ladies and gentlemen! I started with chocolate cupcakes with buttercream icing for the children's party. Next, came my mother's frozen peanut butter pie for the celebration with my family. Sunday's celebration was a combo party. Ben and his auntie have birthdays one day apart. It was his suggestion to make a boy/girl cake. I made a coconut layer cake with seven minute frosting and let the boys arrange the cake toppers. Fun and delicious! The best part is that we now have three different types of cake leftovers to enjoy all week long! Cake anyone?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

We have a winner!


Congratulations to whimsical creations! You are the proud owner of a new headband!
Thanks so much to everyone who entered the contest. It was so fun to visit all your blogs. You are all a very cool bunch of gals! Come back and visit me again.

Cheers,
Michele

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fall Blog Give Away!



I am busily working on some new items for my etsy shop. Among them are a line of headbands as well as some cool wristlet purses. I would love to give this little beauty of a headband away for my first blog give away.

If you are interested, leave a comment on this blog and I will draw a name to win on Friday September 5. I will ship the headband (at no cost to you) to anywhere you might live.

Thanks for visiting and good luck!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Star Wars wars



Star Wars is big in our house. We have the action figures, the lego, several varieties of light sabres, the live action movies, the animated movies, the costume, the music,the vehicles, the video games, the comic books, the t-shirts...

And so, it was with great anticipation that we waited for the theatre release of the new Clone Wars animated movie. We were not dissuaded by the negative reviews. We NEEDED to see this movie. We have, in our own way, supported this franchaise thus far. There is no turning back now.

Long story short. My review-Liked it, didn't love it. As with all of George Lucas' movies, I love the overall universe but there is always a little too much CHEESE for me. In this movie, the character of Uncle Zero made me cringe everytime he spoke. Ugggh. The new padawan was a little too 'smartalekey' for me as well.

As for the kids, they ate it all up with a big spoon. They laughed at all the corn ball dialogue and were transfixed by all the battle scenes. I guess this is Lucas' target audience.

Of course, with any new movie comes the inevitable merchandaising cash grab. Although it seems to me we have every conceivable variation of clone trooper, there are still more to be had. They're CLONES for crying out loud! Remember the old days when all the storm troopers looked exactly the same and they didn't come with removable tiny little accessories?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Waning of Summer



Its been a short summer with far too much rain. I have been lucky enough, however, to have enjoyed some really memorable swims. This little moment of time is noteworthy since this is the first time (ever) this particular beach has been warm enough for me to swim in. Normally, this little piece of the ocean is so painfully cold that you run away screaming. On this day, Ben and I battled the surf together for quite some time. We were repeatedly flattened and left gasping for air. There was an unfortunate tankini malfunction that left me more than a little humbled. Ah the sea...she is a cold mistress!

It was a good day made all the more sweet because of the knowledge that it may well have been the last ocean swim of the season. Farewell to summer.....

On a related topic... Please visit my etsy shop for my END OF SUMMER SALE.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mommy Holly Rocks!




Lucky me! I won a contest offered by the very talented MommyHolly. I have been enjoying her blog for some time now. It is a polished and charming site. It stands to reason that her handmade cards would reflect the same spirit of fun and style. Thanks again Holly! I am thrilled with my goodies!

I hope everyone will check out both her blog and her etsy shop!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

pimp my dressform


I rescued this sturdy gal from a family friend. She has been languishing in a basement for a couple of years and is a little worse for the wear. I need to put on my thinking cap to envision an extreme makeover. In the meantime, she is at the mercy of my two boys who are quite enjoying our "clothing impaired" houseguest.

Any suggestions?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Summer blockbusters

I am getting way behind in my summer movies. Indiana Jones, Wall-E, Incredible Hulk, and who knows what else, all unseen by me. However, I am not starved for summer entertainment. Remember when you were a kid and you loved putting on shows for your parents or whoever else would watch? This morning I was treated to a dramatic swordfight between "Blackbeard's Ghost" and "Mac MacKintosh" the intrepid Irish pirate. It was quite a spectacle. Later in the day, came an inventive retelling of the Indiana Jones saga. I especially enjoyed the use of the excercise ball as the giant rolling boulder. I love my little thespians!
video

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happy Birthday Canada!


Yesterday we celebrated Canada Day with a visit to Citadel Hill. Every year the historic fort opens its gates for a celebration featuring the firing of canons and FREE CAKE! What more could any little boy ask for?

It was a gorgeous day contrary to the weather forecast which had called for rain. We had a grand day in our fair city enjoying the company of our family.

HAPPY 141 CANADA!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Greetings from Morocco! (tales from my virtual vacation)


Hello all,

Wish you were here. I am writing to you from a rooftop patio festooned with colorful pillows. The weather is warm but the breeze is perfumed with the scent of a nearby olive grove. I am enjoying a lovely afternoon cup of mint tea served on a silver trayed dotted with exotic pastries.

I spent the day wandering through the busy market streets drinking in the heady smells of fresh spices and local produce. Barrels of olives and buckets of lemons... Gorgeous! The sound of local vendors plying their trade still rings in my ears.

I refreshed myself with a dip in the courtyard pool and a chilled drink recommended by my charming hosts. Heaven!

Tonight I will sleep in luxury. A king size bed decorated in generous yards of rich brocade will be my final destination. Every detail of my accomodations are a celebration of color and beauty. Stunning tile mosaics, peaceful garden settings, flavorful local dishes...

Hope all is well with you,

Michele

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cherry Pie and a cuppa joe


Paul and I are always looking for something to celebrate. If possible to celebrate with some tasty morsels, so much the better. So, as we came to the end of our Twin Peaks DVD's it was a no brainer. It had to be cherry pie.

As fate would have it, its cherry season. Fresh cherries are affordable and plentiful. I scooped them up, brought them home and got to pittin'. I made my favorite pastry compliments of Julia Child. Shortening and butter together make for a beautiful crust. I mixed the cherries with some sugar, cornstarch, butter and some grated apple.

We waited anxiously for the kids to go to sleep so we could discover Agent Cooper's fate. We were armed with hot coffee, warm pie and cold vanilla ice cream. Heaven. Full points to the pie for flavor, but I would try a different thickening agent next time. Tapioca?

Life is sweet. Just add pie.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

graduation day



Last week we celebrated Duncan's graduation from preschool. We crowded into the gym with all the other parents and grandparents to watch the parade of little people stream onto the stage. I tried valiantly not to cry and managed to isolate the tears to one eye only which I discretely wiped away when noone was looking. They marched up the aisle wearing little cardboard graduation hats with blue tassles made of yarn. They sang a good selection of songs including the theme song from "Spiderman". Duncan did pretty well until he completely lost interest. He yawned repeatedly and pulled constantly at the elastic holding on the hat. At one point he began lifting up his shirt and saying, "Look at my big fat belly" to the children standing beside him. At this point one of the parents turned to me and said, "Michele, you must be so proud." Strangely, I was. I understand now how parents are steadfastly proud of their children despite their imperfections.

After receiving his diploma (which he used as a telescope to examine the ears of his non-fidgeting classmates) he was delighted to get the ceremony out of the way so he could get to the main event...the snack table. Now that is my boy!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The good ole summer time

I am feeling cautiously optimistic that summer has arrived in Nova Scotia. I have stopped wearing socks and jackets. There is the unmistakable sweet scent of the salty Atlantic in the air. The backyard has changed into a beautiful tangle of green. Life is beautiful.

As the mom of two small guys there are other signs of summer as well. The frequent demands for popsicles for every kid who wanders into the yard, the trails of water across the kitchen floor that are testament to the filling of supersoakers... Good times.

Having such a short season of warmness as we do here on the east coast, I treasure every beautiful day. Every ice cream at the park, trip to the beach, family barbeque, every line of sweet smelling laundry.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mise En Place

It struck me today how there are a lot of similarities between sewing and cooking. I was without my sewing machine for several days as it was at the repair shop. (It turns out it was not broken at all but that I had inadvertantly knocked the feeddogs out of whack while cleaning. Damn it! I thought it was my perfect opportunity to buy a sexy new Husquarvana. I digress...) During my sewing downtime, I prepped for a number of upcoming projects. I cut out pieces for bibs, purses and hats.

In my previous life as a cook in the restaurant biz we always used our downtime to prepare our Mise. For those of you not in the know, Mise en place means a place for everything or everything in its place. Working in busy kitchens taught me a great deal about time management. Working ahead, always having in mind the next project makes everything slide along a little more smoothly.

It is easy to see how sewing has filled a void left in me after leaving the food biz. The satisfaction of a beautifully arranged plate is not unlike a lovely apron garnished with a complimentary bias binding.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hail Caesar-My quest for the ultimate Caesar salad

I love a good Caesar Salad. For me, it is a litmus test for the quality of a restaurant. If you pass muster with this pivotal salad, I have complete confidence in the main course which is on its way.

A good Caesar is a well thought out mix of quality ingredients. The lettuce is fresh and crisp. The cheese is freshly grated parmesan and the pepper freshly ground. There is bacon, or if you're a little more highbrow...pancetta. It is freshly cooked and in nice bite size pieces. The croutons are fork tender morsels seaoned and baked with butter or olive oil. The dressing is made from scratch with eggs, oil, lots of garlic, anchovies, lemon juice, fresh parmesan and whatever other optional ingredients you like ( mustard, fresh herbs etc). Getting this combination right and in the proper balance is crucial.

I have had many Caesars, most of them disappointing. This weekend we tried two new restaurants. Cocoa Pesto, in Windsor N.S. served me a "classic" Caesar with no bacon! The croutons were too tough for my fork and the dressing had no trace of anchovy flavor.

I was anxious to expunge the memory of this disappointing Caesar so the next day we headed to Tempest in Wolfville. It was quite good. The dressing was tasty with a noticeable anchovy undertone. The croutons were somewhat more tender but were made with pumpernickel bread. I prefer the classic white. I had a side Caesar here, I would be interested in the full appetizer version.

So far, my fav Caesar in Halifax is the Cafe Chianti Caesar for two. Tasty, fresh ingredients mixed with love in a bowl for two!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Appliance Apologies


I love appliances. I remember the precise moment that my head was turned by their shiny wonderfulness. It was my first day of cooking school when I got my first introduction into a professional kitchen. I found myself surrounded by gleaming stainless steel. Massive convection ovens, huge hobart mixers, steam jacket kettles, grills, flat top griddles, steamers...Ohh the possibilites.

I have been fortunate enough to enjoy some fine appliances in the comfort of my own home. Sweet sweet Silvia makes my cappucino every afternoon. My Kitchen Aid mixer tosses out a crowd pleasing pizza dough nearly every friday night as well as a countless array of cookies, cakes, meringues and loaves of bread.

My little Kenmore sewing machine has been tirelessly churning out whatever I have desired of her. Recently I have asked more of her than ever before having started my own Etsy shop.

This is why I am so very sad to say that two weeks ago near the end of the production of two loaves of white bread...Kitchen Aid sputtered to a stop. She now lies sadly still on her shelf, a sad reminder of a delicious partnership. And Kenmore, had a disastrous reaction to a routine cleaning which has left me and my Sushi bistro apron in a sad state of desertion.

At least I still have Silvia.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Etsyism

While my husband and I were visiting Montreal last summer we saw a mural on the side of a building that we thought was brilliant. It pictured a serene faced figure with hands together in prayer and beneath it was written "Foodism". As we are both obsessed with the pursuit and enjoyment of good food we thought it was just the 'ism' for us.

In that same spirit I have decided to found my own 'ism'. It has grown out of my recent discovery and subsequent obsession with etsy. Etsyism is an all inclusive movement. All ages, genders and races are welcome. You need only have a username to be initiated. A monthly tithe of your earnings is not required but is a likely outcome. As a new initiate you may be tempted to be overzealous with your newfound philosophy. "Buy homemade!" you will preach. Some will accept your enthusiasm others will think you strange. Don't lose heart. There are many others who will join you to pay homage at the great marketplace we call Etsy.

The Reluctant Blogger

Am I a blogger?
What has the world come to? Soon I'll be text messaging (or is that TM-ing?) Dang! I dont't even know the lingo. When I went to school we wrote our work with a pen. And we liked it that way.