Wednesday, 1 October 2014

CURB APPEAL - POST FOUR

Here it is. The moment we've all been waiting for. The house painting before and after.

Now, before you skip ahead, let me warn you. This is not the final project. I have a number of things on my outdoor to do list as you'll see in the photo below. Everything else (except for a new house number) will be a project for next year. I want to take out the concrete steps (that are flaking apart) and put in new wooden steps, get some shutters and window boxes, new outdoor light fixtures, finish painting the house, a new front door and new windows just for the entryway (all the other windows were replaced before we bought the house), chop down the dying pine trees beside the driveway, and even just do some landscaping.

That's a long list.

And that's why this year I am happy with 2 of 4 sides of the house painted and a new house number. Baby steps. (Concrete steps?) :)

As an FYI - we scraped one side of the house at a time and our neighbour told us you really only have to get rid of the paint that is flaking off. Then we spot painted areas that were worse than others. After that we did 2 full coats and it looks sooo much better (in our opinion)!  Take a look! (PS - painting is way better when you have a super cute assistant. And I mean...super cute.)









Monday, 29 September 2014

END OF SEPTEMBER BEACH DAYS

This past weekend was the most gorgeous end of September weekend I can ever remember. We wore shorts, finished up our outside painting, walked the nature park, and went to the beach!

One of the best things about our house is that it is a ten minute walk from the beach. When we bought our house it was the beginning of December and I didn't realize until the snow melted in the spring how close we were to the ocean! It was quite a lovely surprise that hubby laughed about - my sense of direction is horrendous.

Ever since Leroy was a wee little guy it was our regular summer routine to get ice cream, go to the beach, throw the frisbee and look for beach glass. We've started a bit of a beach glass collection and it's nothing to scoff at. ;)

For a few different reasons we haven't spent much time there this summer (can you say moved - twice?) and when Sunday was so absolutely gorgeous we decided to go after church. Even though I don't get to see them every day I'm pretty lucky to have such special guys in my life. (And on the upside - Leroy has been spending time with me in my home away from home!) I hope your weekend was lovely too!


Below left: What I call the "Stairs of Death". The steepest, most tetanus - infested stairs in the universe. We take Leroy off his leash before we descend because otherwise, let's be honest, I'm sure we would all die.

Below right: Our little manny isn't much of a swimmer. A few weeks ago when visiting a friend's cottage he totally surprised us when he chased a stick into the water and swam! Normally he wades and if you threw something for him you end up getting in the water to retrieve it yourself if it's something you don't want to lose (like a frisbee). He didn't swim yesterday but he spent a lot of time running in and out of the waves and was happy as could be. And pretty crazy adorable.





Sunday, 21 September 2014

SWITZERLAND - POST TWO

In post one I talked about our time in Zurich and Kyburg, Switzerland.  Today we're off to St Moritz - a town well known for skiing - and according to my guide book, a favourite of celebs and royals.

St Moritz was a quick stop on our trip.  This was our starting point for the Glacier Express, the express train that took us through the Swiss Alps.  I had read about scenic train rides through the Alps and bought our tickets in advance.  The train was definitely the best way to see Switzerland.  We were scaling cliffs and mountains and passing countless rural towns.  The windows of the Glacier Express extend up to the ceiling so the views of the mountains are extended overhead.

Stores and restaurants in St Moritz were mostly closed due to it being an in between season (ski season was definitely over but summer tourism had not yet started) so we had dinner and walked around the small lake.  We didn't find this town particularly special because it felt like a resort town with expensive boutique stores and not a lot of charm.  The next morning we hopped on the Glacier Express (slight hiccup there when hubby took us in the wrong direction on our little connecting train and we temporarily thought we might have missed the G.E.) and spent the full day traveling by train and watching the gorgeous scenery...and rereading some Harry Potter occasionally.  Here are a few photos from St Moritz and the Glacier Express.


 

 









Monday, 15 September 2014

SWITZERLAND - POST ONE

Life is pretty fantastic most days when you think about it.

Like when you think about the world - in its size, with all its diversity... the more you see of it the smaller it feels, the more you realize we're all really the same.

And sometimes when I think that at this exact moment in my little home, people exist in all other parts of the world - in all sorts of other homes... It blows my mind a little.

Where am I going with this, you might be wondering?  This summer hubby and I were fortunate enough to go on a two week celebratory grad trip to Switzerland!  It was hub's first trip overseas and my second and we loved (mostly) every second of it.  I thought I would share some of our best photos from the trip starting with a post about Zurich.

We flew into Zurich and spent a couple of days there at the beginning of our trip and one night at the end before flying home.  One of my few travel tips is to spend a night or two in the city you fly into.  This gives you a chance to get over any jet lag before you travel to your next destination, and also gives you a chance to wait for missing luggage (heaven forbid - but that was my experience on my first trip to Europe)!

Zurich is a beautiful city on a lake (Lake Zurich) with a path around the lake that is always full of walkers, roller skaters, cyclists, etc.  The lake is also surrounded by parks and green space full of healthy Swiss people playing badminton and swimming.  It was a beautiful city (although very expensive) and had an interesting contrast of people lounging outdoors by the lake and businessmen in Porsches driving the streets.

Mostly we walked the path along Lake Zurich, lounged in the parks, ate ice cream, explored the Old Town, and did a little window shopping (AKA tried on a pair of shoes at Prada).  And napped.  Because when you're jet lagged in Zurich it is essential to take naps on the grass in the park like your life is a movie.  We also took a little day trip into Kyburg, a tiny town outside Zurich.  It had a medieval castle and hiking path and since we went on a day when the castle was closed, there were no other tourists there.  We had a picnic lunch and went for a walk in the Swiss countryside all alone.  It was so peaceful and one of my favourite moments.  Here are our pictures from Zurich and Kyburg (pronounced Key burg)!

PS - The headband I'm wearing in the bottom photo is by MairiRyan Textile Designs and more headbands will be available at the Fall Craft Show!













Friday, 12 September 2014

CURRIED CAULIFLOWER

Most nights we have a fairly healthy meal, whether or not I'm "on the wagon".  Although I have to say, a lot of the healthy recipes I have tried have been flops.  We have been married for six years and from day one I insisted hubby tell me if he didn't enjoy something I cooked.  So there have been a few times I've made healthy recipes where our meal ends with hubby saying slowly, "You know...you say you want me to tell you when I don't like something..."  And honestly, it is always unanimous.

When I was visiting my friend F in Calgary this winter/spring, a friend of hers took us out for authentic Indian food.  He chose the meals we ordered and we shared everything.  I love trying new foods and having someone there who knows the food and could order for us?  It was pretty fab.  One of the dishes we had was a cauliflower appetizer and it was sooo good.  Covered in spices.  Roasted perfectly.  Yum.

It was a dish I thought I could recreate at home without too much trouble - granted, my version is not a legit Indian version.  I didn't buy any special spices; I only used what I had in my cupboard.  But let me tell you.  Still yum.



I made this dish again a week ago and I think it's going to be in our regular rotation.  It's nice to have cauliflower without drowning it in cheese sauce (delish but not so much on the healthy end of things).  Here's what you do:

1. Steam the cauliflower until it is the texture that you like - I like mine to be a bit on the soft side.
2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
3. Heap the cauliflower onto the cookie sheet. Drizzle in olive oil, sprinkle on cumin, curry powder, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper (if you like it spicy).  If you don't cook with these spices very often - the curry powder and cumin aren't spicy so don't be afraid to use lots to give lots of flavour!
4. Bake in the oven at 350.  I can't remember how long I baked this for but maybe in the 20 minute range?  It will give your nice soft cauliflower a bit of a crispy, roasted texture on the outside.  Just keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.

That's it! Easy, really tasty, and healthy.