Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Theme Parties, Dahling

You know what I love?

Theme Parties.

They are AMAZING in every sense of the word.
I'm a huge sucker for anythng themed. Every December (for the past 3 years, anyway) I throw a Bad Christmas Sweater Party. I won't post those pictures until closer to Christmas. They are good.
Anyway, for your enjoyment I decided to post photos of some previous themed events.

Pirate Party. 3rd Year University. Possible the Best. Theme. Ever. My friend Kristian threw it in his backyard and it was some of the best decorating I've ever seen. Sand, loot, a skeleton guarding a treasure chest, a freakin' steering was beautiful.

My friend Kath threw a Sex-and-the-City themed birthday party one year. We also dressed up a la Carrie and the girls for the movie but I'll have to go dig for those pictures. This is the night that her boyfriend fell off the couch and squished my head between his backside and a hard table. I thought I was concussed and was too afraid to fall asleep for fear that I would never again wake up.

My BFFAEAEAEAEAEA Tracy threw herself a fancy shamncy Black & White Affair. It was fun and what gave it that little something extra, that je-ne-sais-quoi, was the guy in the middle's fur coat. That thing got around.

Because I am a nerd who knows no shame, I had a themed birthday party two summers ago. It was a prom theme. I bought that beaut from H&M for like $15. I still have it. I still really like it and wish I could wear it for everyday life.
Note: I also wore it to the bar. No one else wore their costume.

Earlier this summer, while I was still on strike (Thank you, City, for jeopardizing my ability to pay tuition) I organized a 1950's garden party. Picture one is of the ladies in their finery. I realize it's small and you can't see it too well but it's out of my hands now. Bottom line is we were cute. The second picture is of the meat loaf I made. More to the point it's a picture of my cat Oscar destroying the meat loaf that I made. He's to be excused though because he's on steroids for his cat AIDS. Not the sexually transmitted kind, just an auto-immune disease. Poor old boy. He's on the juice and he just can't help himself. He's so fat.

So there you have some theme ideas for any parties you might like to shake up. Costumes are fun and Value Village makes it easy on the wallet.
If you haven't had your fair share of costumes this year, wait a few months. I'll be sending out invites to the Bad Chrsitmas Sweater Party soon. Ya, I plan early. I already have a date set.
This year's charity though is still up for discussion.
If you have any ideas please let me know!
2007 was Sick Kids, and last year was Free the Children.
Last thing - my sister might be having a Country Kegger party for her birthday so you can bet I'll be running over to Value Village soon if she is. I almost bought a sparkly cowboy hat the other day, You know, just in case.

Monday, September 28, 2009

It rained only slightly, only slightly during our stay in Algonquin. And by that point we had already set up a pretty big tarp so we stayed dry. It was good times all around.
And since it didn't rain on us I was able to take some photos:

A good time. The leaves have started to change so it made for some beautiful scenery. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend you go up to Algonquin in the fall.
I didn't see a moose. You know what irks the hell out of me though? Our friends who went up the day before saw a giant moose swimming in Canoe Lake. They even got a picture of it on Mark's cell phone - before he fell into the lake with it in his pocket, of course. If I ever see that picture you can bet your behind I will steal it and put it up on here.
Jamie - 0
Moose - 1

I also decided that I should do some baking instead of pretending to do school work/facebook creep. I made these lovelies that I found in the LCBO's summer food magazine. They're chocolate cheesecake bites.

Yum yum.

Anyway I should get back to finshing my medications module before I'm expecting to give needles to people (and by people I mean oranges and grapefuits) on Friday.....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Last Camping Trip of 2009

I leave tomorrow for Algonquin Park.


And it's supposed to rain.


I call shenanigans on Mother Nature.

Anyway, I'm excited none-the-less.
I'm excited for 'smores, exercising the very under-used muscles in my arms with canoeing, and potentially (read: definitely) drinking boxed wine directly out of the bag. Those nozzles were made with the sole purpose of facilitation drinking in large-quantities.

Four litres of wine? Yes please.

But this is a "Good Thing" blog, a "domestically-inclined" blog so this preview into my occasional lush-like behaviour is over.

Wino forever.

Anyway, with fingers crossed #67 on my list of things to do before I die will finally be crossed off this weekend. What is that, you ask?

Well, this lofty life acheivement is to see a moose. In real life.

Like this:

Only maybe not on the road. I've already been involved in a deer-hit-and-run and that's enough wild-life hunting to last me a lifetime.
This is a more realistic vision of my dream. John and I sitting in our canoe, in awe of this majestic creature, in our matching track suits. Oh, you didn't know we had matching outfits? Surprise.
Wait. I lied. THIS is my dream:

For obvious reasons.

Before I sign off let us share a Martha moment.

How to build a fire:

Also, I would be tempted to organize as such (see below) if I didn't KNOW that it would go completely unappreciated. (P.S. I'm the only female going. Maybe one other but I've never met her).

It's a smore basket! How darling.

Ok that's all for me. Pray, cross your fingers, do whatever floats your boat but help me avoid a torrential down-pour tomorrow. Sun! Please!

I may go out and buy a disposable waterproof camera.

And a box of wine.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cheese Markers - the value of scouring the clearance section at Indigo

I've been spending money like it's going out of style.
I bought some new leggings, a black silk shirt, a new bag, a winter coat, a felt hat, a book (for school so it doesn't count), a set of thank you cards, and a cheese marker set. I'm in love. I bought two. Some lucky person is going to get one for Christmas. I'm so excited to use it.

I want to get some goat cheese, some applewood smoke cheddar, perhaps some jalapeno havarti, and mostly some brie. I absolutely love brie. Ohhhhh man.

September is almost at a close and I'm excited for October because it's THE month for birthdays. I know of four that I'll be buying/making gifts for so I can get my craft on.
My sister's birthday is on the 9th and I'm trying to plan her party for her. We're thinking a country-Western theme, perhaps a modified pig roast, some country music....I'm excited to cater!

Happy Autumn + equinox.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

I really love Halloween.
So much so that I may or may not have recently purchased a gown remeniscent of one Anne Boleyn would have worn, from the childrens section, and one that I may not even end up wearing this halloween. Oh dear.
Anyway, last year we had some friends over and I got to create some fun frightening snacks. I'll post pictures of last year's spooky spread a little closer to Halloween...seeing as there IS slightly over a month before it's upon us.
I was browsing through the Martha website and found these ideas that I want to try out this year:

The Graveyard cake. Seems pretty easy although without a headstone cookie cutter I know my shapes are going to be weird and won't hold their shape in the oven...hmmm

This "Boo-tiful" cake looks pretty amazing also. Slightly more complicated than the graveyard cake but I want it.

These invisible lolipops I am DEFINITELY making, maybe even before Halloween. And maybe again for Christmas depending on how well they work out. I've had issues with my corn syrup-sugar mix before (it hardened too soon and I actually cut my fingers on it trying to pull it out of my beaters) so I know I'd have to work fast and probably try it several times beore getting it right. But the possibilities!

Anyway, I'll post during the week when I have time. I'm off to Algonquin Park again next weekend so I'll be sure to take loads of photos of the changing colours.
Enjoy the week!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I love autumn.

For the most part.

I love being able to wear short sleeves without feeling cold and wearing long sleeves withoug overheating. I love the colour changes. I love the apples. Really, the only part of autumn that I don't like is the fact that it means winter is just around the corner.

But regardless.
Two years ago John and I went to Chudleigh's apple farm to visit the petting zoo, play in the hay maze, and pick some apples! We had such a fun time and ended up purchasing a number of apples as well as a jar of apple butter, a pumpkin, and other goodies.

We took our apples back to John's parent's house and after setting a few aside for eating purposes, we peeled the rest to use for apple sauce, pies, and blossoms. I was in charge of making the pie crusts while John manned the apple prep. It was so much fun and I'm working on finding a weekend to go again this year.

Here's an apple recipe to get in the autumn/thanksgiving mood:

BAKED APPLE WEDGES (courtesy of Martha Stewart)

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle 1 tbsp brown sugar over a baking sheet. Combine 1/2 cup rolled oats, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger and a pinch each of cloves and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Peel 4 macintosh apples and cut into quarters. Cut out cores.
  • In a bowl beat 1 large egg with 1 tbsp milk. Dip apples into the egg mixture, letting excess drip off. Coat well with the oatmeal mixture and transfer to prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until soft. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

I'm off to do some reading and note-taking on oral, injection, and topical meds!

Enjoy your Saturday evenings!

Jamie, M-I-T

Friday, September 18, 2009

Knitting and Pillows

It's Friday!!!

I couldn't be happier. I am SO excited to sleep in tomorrow and do absolutely nothing. Except make cinnamon buns in the morning. Mmmm.
I was up at 5:30 this morning, out of the house just after 6, and on the hospital unit by 7 am. I almost fell asleep on the bus ride home. I think tonight I may have an entire pot of tea, soak in a bath until I turn into a prune, and curl up on the couch or in bed with a movie.
Friday nights really bring out the party animal in me.
Taking a break from baking, cooking, and recipes for a minute, something else Martha-esque I really love in knitting. I learned how to do it last summer and have made a few things since then. There's a theme though, see if you can guess it.
This is a blanket I made for my sister for her birthday last October. It's probably the best thing I've made. It's beautiful, has very few mistakes and is actually very comfortable. I almost didn't give it to her but I was short on cash, having moved out the month before and being responsible for paying my own tuition. It's white with a white-black-gray trim at each end.

This is my current project. Another blanket, but not as wide. I'm hoping to have it done before December but there's no guarantee now that school is crazy. I'll figure something out.

So apart from my 3 blankets (1 not pictured because it's awful) I have also made 3 scarves! One for my mom, one for my dad, and one for John. I think John is the only one who wears his... hmm...

Did you guess the theme?

It's rectangular patterns. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to knit in circles or do anything more complicated than use several colours.

One of my other projects before I moved out was the make pillow covers for my couch! I got the fabric from Wal-Mart and went to town.

I made these two using a blueprint I got from - where else? - Martha. With some obvious revisions as the pillows are bigger than standard size and I can't measure :(

You can find the instructions to make your own pillow cover here

I'm going to go take a nap. Or watch the last few episodes from season 2 of True Blood.

I'll be back tomorrow with a recipe!

Happy Friday


Monday, September 14, 2009

Reaping the Harvest

I love gardens.
I had an amazing one last summer, when I was still living with my parents and had ample backyard space in which to plant tomatoes, lettuce, okra, onion, corn, carrots, and zucchini. I even threw an autumn dinner party to use up all of the remaining vegetables once summer was over.
This summer I planted slightly less in my parents yard but since I was working I didn't really tend to it, nor did any other member of my family.
Insert embarrassed face.
Anyway, a lot of it went wasted but my favourite grew just as well as it did last year. Here is one of the monster zucchini my garden produced:

And just because it's kind of hard to make out just how large it actually is -

A Tic-Tac box for size reference.

I'm very excited about the options I have for using this. Zucchini bread? Zucchini chocolate cake? Just straight up grilled zucchini?

Have a great week :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wish List

I decided to check out both the Williams Sonoma and the Pottery Barn websites and, well....bad idea.

Because I want everything.

Here's my Williams-Sonoma wishlist:

The Great Cupcake Pan

The Sandwhich Cookie Cake Pan

A Personal Embosser with stand

A Heritage Bundt Pan

Pocket Pie Molds

Bouchon Molds

A Mechanical Pastry Bag

Not to much to ask, right?
Christmas is coming up....
My Pottery Barn wishlist is much worse so I may not post any of what I want because generally it amounts to entire rooms redecorated.
Enjoy the weekend :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Madeleines, My Babies


The weekend.

I had my brain packed today with normal ranges for blood pressure, oxygen saturation, etc. I'm ready for a couple of days of rest!

One of my favourite things to bake is madeleine cookies. John's mom bought me the shell pan when I graduated from University because I had seen them on Martha and commented on them. I make them on a regular basis now.

This is my beautiful Madeleine pan. It's seen better days but it's proof of how much I've used it.
Typically, they are lemon-y and spongy. I often add lime zest because I love anything lime, and I've tried a few variations including chocolate madeleines and apple madeleines. I think you could add in almost any flavour and end up with good results.

I stole this photo from google but this is what they (usually) look like - with icing sugar sprinkled on top. Delicious. Maybe I'll make some this weekend.

Anyway, here's the recipe that I use for the standard lemon flavoured madeleines:

(Makes about 2 dozen)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter madeleine pan(s) and set aside.
  • Sift together: 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.
  • Mix together: 3 large eggs, 2 large egg yolks, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tbsp vanilla, 2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest, and 2 tbsp lemon juice. Mix with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes until pale and thickened.
  • Mix in 3/4 cup of melted butter.
  • Fold the flour into the mixture and then let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
  • Pour the batter into the buttered pan, filling each shell mold about 2/3 to 3/4 full.
  • Bake for 7-8 minutes or until the edges are golden. Turn cookies out, flat side up, on a wire rack to cool then dust with icing sugar*

*The best way to do this is with a small seive. Put 2 tbsps of icing sugar into the seive and dust the cookies by hitting the side of the seive against your palm.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Summer Squash Lattice Tart

Almost the weekend!
As I'm starting to see the readings and work load begin to pile up I may not have the time to write lengthy blogs. On the busier days - if I get a chance to blog at all - I will post a recipe that I have tried or will be trying.

A big surprise was this recipe for a squash tart. Imagine a savory pie. It's amazing. It takes a bit of time but the investment is worth it!
And seeing as squash will soon be gracing the shelves of supermarkets even more than they already are, autumn is a great time to try out this recipe.

Pate Brisee Dough for the crust:
  • In a food processor or bowl combine 2 1/2 cups of flour with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp of sugar. Add in 1 cup of unsalted butter, cut into small cubes.
  • Process the mixture in the food processor or with a pastry cutter (or with two knives) until the mixture has peices the size of peas.
  • Add in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of ice water until the mixture begins to stick together without becoming too wet and sticky.
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour*.

* Do not put the dough in the freezer and forget about it. I did this and after several hours of freezing I had to defrost it in the microwave. Not very professional but it got the job done.
  • Roll out the dough to fit your pan and chill for 20 minutes.
  • Remove and prick bottom with a fork. Fill the bottom with pie weights or dried beans and bake in 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Remove the weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool.
  • Very thinly slice 1 large zucchini. Place in a collander and sprinkle with salt.
  • Cut the other zucchini and 1 medium sized yellow squash (I used a sweet dumpling) into 1/3 inch sized cubes. Cut 2 leeks into strips, using only the white and very light green part.
  • Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a skillet and add zucchini, leek, and squash. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes.
  • Pour the sauteed vegetables into the tart crust and sprinkle with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.
  • In a bowl, mix together 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, and 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Pour mixture over the zucchini, leek, and squash.
  • Place the thinly sliced zucchini across the top of the tart in a lattice fashion. Brush with olive oil and cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  • Bake in 375 degree over for 30-35 minutes until the custard is set. Remove and let cool slightly before serving.
It is tasty - I promise.
Enjoy :)
Jamie, M-I-T

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Labour Day Weekend & the Cottage Cook-Off

Arguably my favourite thing about summer?

Campfires and the deliciousness associated with them.

My Labour Day weekend fam-jam at the cottage was so much fun. I spent a lot of time relaxing in the sun and in the lake, reading, and eating a LOT of really good food. My Get-Fit-For-Jamaica diet & exercise plan will commence in a few weeks.

The cook-off went very well. John and I went second and put up good competition I think. Saturday night's meal was amazing so kudos to M&A. They made ribs with a homemade sauce, open faced pulled pork sandwhiches (sooo good). coleslaw, sweet potato fries with two mayo-based dips, and cornbread. A's cornbread recipe was a good one as I find the ones that I've tried aren't always as sweet as I would like. I definitely want to get my hands on a copy of that pulled pork recipe.

Sunday night belonged to us and we chose breaded chicken stuffed with strawberries, nectarines, and goat cheese, potato salad with blue cheese, bacon, and chives, bacon-wrapped corn, and a summer squash tart. I was actually most impressed with the squash tart. It tasted sooo good. I'll put the recipe up later this week.

We also tried to step up our game with little place holder gifts.
A close-up of the potato salad
The long weekend was a fun way to spend the last few days of summer vacation. I'm back to school now and gearing up for long days of class, work, and clinical.
Hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Better Late than Never

After a bit of a hiatus I'm back!

Algonquin Park was as beautiful as always but our weekend was damp and cold. We arrived on Friday night after many stops and managed to miss most of the rain.
But it caught up to us on Saturday. And Sunday.

Saturday morning was cold and slightly miserable but we got all of our rain gear on, our camp gear packed up, and we headed to the portage store.

These shoes - purchased en route during a quick stop into Canadian Tire - quite literally saved me from freezing to death. As a victim of poor circulation my fingers and toes are always cold so these sexy shoes kept my feet dry and warm.

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of my own from the weekend. The weather was so dreary I didn't want to risk ruining my camera. I did take a few -

And I think this one sums up the weather we had quite nicely. I still had an absolutely amazing time and the water was beautiful right after each rain with the steam rising from it. My friend had her waterproof camera so I'm waiting for her to post her pictures so I can steal them and post some here!

I've had a busy last week at work. I helped with a training on Monday night, went grocery shopping and errand-running with my Dad on Tuesday night, and worked at my old pool last night. I miss that place.

Tonight is my night at home. Nice and lazy. I have to pack up for the cottage famjam though.

Today at work was "Pie Day" so I decided to be creative and make use of the 24 fresh figs I purchased on Tuesday. I made a fig pie!

It's a recipe from Martha but I adjusted it as I had no creme fresh on hand. The filling was cream cheese, ricotta, vanilla yogurt and some sugar. I roasted the figs for about 45 minutes in red wine, maple syrup, vanilla, peppercorns, grapefruit zest, and a sprinkling of sugar. They were goooooood. If they weren't so expensive/ellusive I would buy them every week. The pie ended up tasting pretty good, too. A bit on the rich side but it helps to keep portion size under control right ;)

Since tomorrow is my roomate's last day at work I baked some cookies for him to give to his coworkers. They both have/like cats so I tried my best to decorate them as such. They look a little sad but I will admit I wasn't prepared. Still kind of cute though.

J and I celebrated one year of cohabitation on Tuesday and went to Cafe Demetre. A very good way to end the first year of rooming together. Hopefully the first of many.

I'm testing out the potato salad recipe for our Cottage Cook-off dinner so I have to go get the potatoes!

Enjoy :)

Jamie, M.I.T