Dizzy Miss Lizzy - Christmas Baking Begins

It's that time of year again . . .time to start baking for Christmas. One of the cookies we make each year are basically a fruitcake in a cookie form. The original recipe from my great-great grandmother called them Lizzies. My grandmother nick named them Dizzy Lizzies. Now they are referred to as Boozie Fruit Cookies. And they are best made by my dad. So realistically, we call them Dad's Boozie Fruit Cookies.

It starts with soaking the dried fruit and nuts in bourbon, but you can use rum or brandy. Some years we have used Maker's Mark (favourite) or Jim Beam bourbon; other years it's been Appleton Estate rum or Asbach. Next year I want to try using Spice Box Whiskey. In the original recipe, the fruit was soaked for one hour, and only in 1/2 a cup of alcohol. But dad over the years has increased the liquor to a full cup and lets the fruit sit covered for up to seven days; tossing the fruit in the liquid every other day. By the end of a week or so, the fruit has soaked up all of the liquid. This means the fruit will remain moist during the baking, and then help to keep the cookies soft.

These are a great cookie for making early in the Christmas season. They keep well and are excellent for packing and shipping. The recipe makes quite a few (7 to 8 dozen), so we often freeze half the batch and take them out as needed (or craved) throughout the new year. Christmas cookies in July? why not !

Dad's Boozie Fruit Cookies

3          cup      seedless raisins
4          cup      pecan halves
1 ¼      cup      citron, diced
4          cup      candied cherries, chopped
1          cup      bourbon, dark or spiced rum or brandy
¼         cup      butter or margarine, room temperature
½         cup      light brown sugar, firmly packed; plus 2 Tbsp
2                      eggs
1 ½      tsp       baking soda
1 ½      tsp       ground cinnamon
½         tsp       ground cloves
½         tsp       ground nutmeg
1 ½      cup      all purpose flour

In a large sized bowl or other airtight container with a lid that seals, combine the raisins, pecans, citron and cherries. Pour the liquor over the fruit mixture and toss to thoroughly coat. Seal the container. Set in a cool location out of the way. Each day for a week or so, remove the lid and stir the mixture. (Or you can do what my dad does, which is to just pick it up and shake it so that the liquid re-coats the fruit. . . Be sure the lid is on tight!). When there is little to no liquid remaining, the mixture is ready.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and spices. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the softened butter or margarine until light and fluffy. Add in the light brown sugar and continue to beat until well blended. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

Add the flour mixture and continue blending until smooth. Fold in the fruit mixture. There is not a lot of batter-to-fruit ratio in these cookies, so don't be alarmed if the batter seems really lumpy. It's supposed to be.

Drop by teaspoon onto prepared baking sheets. Bake in a pre-heated slow oven at 325 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until firm. Remove from oven and transfer to wire cooling racks. Allow to cook completely before storing in an airtight container. 

If you have fans of Christmas fruit cake in your family or friends, then these are certainly going to be a hit for you. They pack all the flavours but without the heavy density sometimes found in the traditional cake. My nephew has been known to polish off a half dozen cookies in one sitting. But then he's going on 15 and 6'3" tall.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays !

(shown clockwise from top are Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread, Chocolate Crinkles, Vanilla Chocolate Thumbprints and Dad's Boozie Fruit Cookies)

Have you Missed me ?

I have been away, I mean, I haven't gone anywhere physically, but I've been away from here. From this blog. It seems like just a couple weeks, but in truth it's been months.

Life ran away with me. Or rather, I ran away with life. Together we eloped into a frenzy of office work, fashion sketching, pattern drafting, muslin making garment construction and (horror of horrors) . . . restaurant work. A second full time job.

Yes, despite my previous thoughts of not returning to work in a restaurant, the $13,000.00 for a new roof and balcony had other ideas. So back to prostituting my soul table side for $$ I go ! Okay . . . I'll admit I do love the industry, but no the long hours and the effect it has on my sleeping pattern, my eating pattern, my aching back-knees-calves-and-feet pattern. Essentially . . . my life pattern.

And silly me, I did this heading into the last term of my graduate program. Yes, I am crazy. Or a glutton for punishment. Or destined for design disaster. Time to tell. Time that I don't have . . . for things like this blog.

Because if you're paying attention, I now work 40 hours in the office, 35 hours at the restaurant and 12 hours at school, plus about 10 hours of homework. That's 97 hours per week. Yeh, I'm gonna have to go with "crazy" on this one.

So I think the next little while will be about posting inspirations and ideas and less about writing and actual "blog" blogging.

A blog without any real "blogging". Or blog writing.

You get the picture. Or you will, because there will be a lack of blogging.
Just pictures.
Which you will get.

Beautiful Flocked Ivy Silk Art Fabric by FabricMart

Perfect Pesto

Every summer my mom and I make pesto using the basil from her garden. The plants get to be quite large; about waist high and two feet across. Lovely leafy green stuff. Just before the plants start to flower, it's time to pick.

You need a fair amount of leaves to make a good batch of pesto. For every 1 cup or 8 oz of pesto, you need about 8 cups of leaves. If you can, it's best to make a double batch and freeze it (more on that later). But if you just want a small amount for a pasta sauce or to spread over some prawns or chicken, then the batch can be halved to produce less.

There are many recipes available out there in Interwebz Land for pesto but honestly with time we have created our own and basically now just eyeball it with our tastebuds. The basic ingredients are the same though.

fresh basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil
ground pine nuts (though we have used ground almonds as well)
ground parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not the cheap stuff that comes in a green and red shaker ..cough, cough)
2 or 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped (not the paste or the pre-minced stuff from a jar; you want the garlic to be fresh)

Having a food processor is also pretty essential. I suppose it could be done in a blender, except probably in smaller amounts and the end result may not be as smooth. The use of a food processor also allows me to drizzle the oil in while it's still running, which would cause quite a mess if attempted while using a blender.

So, to begin . . . .we strip all the leaves off the stalks. These then go in the food processor. Let 'er spin until the leaves are all munched down into a dark green goo. If you're going to add the garlic cloves, now would be the time. Start to drizzle in the oil until the mixture starts to turn more freely. Then add in the ground pine nuts and parmesan, adding more oil to get a nice, smooth consistency. It usually works out to:

1 cup / 8 oz of pine nuts
1 cup / 8 oz of parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup / 12 oz of the oil.

Give or take.

Once it's all blended and tasty, it's read . Well, sort of. You can use it right away but we have found it's better if it sits at room temperature for about an hour before using. This allows the flavours time to blend. Then it can be used in a sauce, brushed over chicken, or with a bit more oil; and a marinade brushed over prawns.

We don't like to store leftover pesto in the refrigerator. We find the oil separates from the other ingredients and the garlic becomes stronger somehow. Instead, we fill an ice cube tray with the remaining pesto, cover with wax paper, and freeze. Then we pop the cubes into a freezer bag. When needed, the pesto cubes are a perfect size to quickly thaw out, and we only need to thaw as much as what's needed.

Just remember to thoroughly wash the ice cube trays out before using them again for making ice. There was an incident once when bits of greenery were left behind and the resulting ice cubes were slightly green. Now the running joke is "rye and ginger, hold the garlic and greens."

Design Inspiration - part 5

It's here. My last term of school. My final project. My five looks that will walk down a runway and represent me. Daunting; capital D.

So, in anticipation, I'm going to start sharing a couple images of inspiration for my collection. Most of these are either from Pinterest or Etsy, and along the way they have lost their original links. If you recognize any of these, please let me know the source so I can give credit where it's due.

>>>The shorts/vest/sweater combo to the right is Chanel SS2012....no mistaking those iconic pearl buttons and the soft structured look. (in love with the layering and textures!)<<<

Which brings me to the theme of my collection: Softness in Structure and Architecture as Design. Think of the curves of the Sydney Opera House, or the swoop of the roof of the Richmond Oval (formerly the speed skating track for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics). I'm also evolking memories of travel while honoring classic design. (Whew! all that in five looks.)

I have most of my fabrics selected. All the patterns are made and test toiles put together. Cutting on the "real fabric" begins tomorrow night. Fingers crossed and wish me luck!

In the meantime, enjoy!

Easter Brunch . . . times two !

This Easter weekend brought about not one, but two Easter brunches.

The first was hosted on Good Friday by my friend Sarah of Green Tomato Supper Club. Now, you know it’s going to be a good brunch when you ask if there is anything you can bring and your host replies “Perhaps some bubbly for mimosas….” Nice ! There can never be too much bubbly at a brunch.
It was a beautiful warm spring day, so we were able to sit outside under the cherry blossom trees and catch up with friends we hadn’t seen in a while. Sarah produced a beautiful spread, with quiche tartlets, cheeses, breads, individual caprese bites and her own made preserves. The dining room table was pushed to one side and set up as a buffet to allow more room for people to move around. Throughout the house were cheerful bouquets of daffodils . . .as well as several children and Mezzo the rather large roly-poly cat.

The next day was our family brunch. Mom and I decided to serve bacon wrapped scallops and an assortment of pickles, crackers, salsa and sliced cheeses to start. I know, I know…..bacon on Easter weekend. Not very Lent friendly. The weather being so beautiful, we sat out on the veranda and coloured eggs while nibbling on the spread. Mom grilled a delicious pork tenderloin with lemon and rosemary, while I made oven roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli.

For dessert I made some fun chocolate cups using balloons dipped in chocolate.  When the chocolate set, I snipped the neck of each balloon to deflate it and peel it away from the chocolate. The result ends up looking like half of an egg shell; perfect for the Easter theme. These I filled with a sort of blackberry apple fool, made using Mom’s blackberry apply jelly. Little bit of coconut for a nest, couple little chocolate eggs and some blueberries for garnish, and dessert is done. These can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Easter Sunday morning I finished decorating mini chocolate cupcakes. I had baked the cupcakes in those little condiment cups you get for ketchup so that they sort of looked like flower pots instead of the traditional cupcake wrappers. They also are the same cups used to dispense pills at the hospital, which is where they were going to be delivered. They were a bit tricky to remove from the wrapping, so I clipped into the side to create a starting point. Cupcakes decorated and packed up, it was time for scrambled eggs and cinnamon buns.

So, a full weekend with friends, family and feasting . . . .a perfect way to spend the Easter holiday.

Today on Etsy - March 20, 2013

Today's find on Etsy is this beautiful round filigree stained glass pendant with sheer ribbon by colorshoppestudio in Providence, RI.

The top part of the pendent has a Celtic style design with purple, pink and clear crystals. Behind the filigree work is a layer of pink stained art glass.

The pendent measures 1 1/4 inches round and the ribbon cording is 18 inches long with a two inch extension at the closure.

A lovely necklace to wear to a spring or summer garden party or wedding reception.

Spring is in the Bag (almost)

Warm weather, blooming flowers, birds chirping and Easter only a few days away . . . .
Here are a trio of lovely spring tote bags to brighten you day. These bags all feature roomy interiors with six pockets; some smaller for your cell phone, others larger to secure your water bottle or pocketbook.
These bags can be put to use for a variety of tasks. Use one as a book bag, another as a diaper bag to hold just the things you need for your little one while visiting a friend for coffee. Load one up with flip-flops, a good book & a blanket and head to the beach (just remember the sun screen). I have one for craft projects that holds everything I need (crochet hooks, scissors, balls of yarn, buttons) which I can toss in the car at a moment’s notice if I am heading out to my nephew's cello lesson or to Oma’s house for coffee.

All the totes are handmade and feature many vintage or upcycled fabrics from . . .oh. let's see . . .a grad dress, a full length skirt that I shortened, Italian dupioni silk swatch samples, cushion covers that I tried to make that ended up being too small. Each has its' own character and no two bags are the same. The unique buttons are from either my mom's or my Oma's collections. . . pssst! Mom, see what happens when you innocently ask "Can you use these fabrics or buttons for anything?"

Easter Inspirations in Jewelry

I will be the first to admit that there are a lot of jewelry designers out there. And after awhile, some of it starts to look the same (except those designs made by moi, bien sur). But then every once in awhile, I stumble across someone who is designing jewelry so differently, so uniquely, so . . .well, FRESH . . .that it causes my mouth to physically hang open.
Tonight I came across Barbara Macleod Jewellery, (yes, with the European spelling of the craft) or bcm999 as she’s known to fellow Etsians (those of us who sell and spend way too much time on etsy.com). Barbara graduated in 2007 with a first class degree in Jewellery and Metalwork Design from Duncan of Jordanstone Art College in Dundee. Soon after she was awarded a start up grant by the Scottish Arts Council, and returned to her home town of Lochinver, - a small picturesque fishing and crafting village in the northwest Highlands of Scotland to set up her workshop. Since then, she has sold her designs through local and international galleries, major events and her website.

Her designs blend the perfect mixture of modern and classic. Crisp, bold yet intricate silverwork is paired with a soft pallet of rosy pink and ecru, mint green and sky blue. The current collection very much reminds me of delicate Easter egg patterns.

Each piece is wearable for both daily work life and night time glamour. Compliments and curiosity will both be forthcoming when wearing one of these gorgeous designs.

Given the funds, I would be up for purchasing more than one of these, and not just for wearing at Easter

Today on Etsy - March 12, 2013

Today's fabulous find on Etsy is this hand designed and embroidered hand bag by atelierrococo in Santiago, Chile.

The silk fabric bag is embroidered with both colourful threading, beads and silk ribbon.

This is a whimsical bag to add to your everyday wardrobe and would be sure to garner you many compliments. Or, use it to jazz up a simple evening outfit or for attending a summer garden party or wedding.

The bag is individually made and one of a kind. Which means you will not bump into someone with the same bag as you, or inadvertently put your keys into someone else's look-alike Michael Kors or Coach hand bag at the next summer bbq party.
(been there . . . done that)

Today on Etsy - March 08, 2013

Today's Etsy find is this wonderful mosaic tile serving tray from Sigmosaics. White on white -simple and sophisticated.

At approximately 11'x7', it is just the right size to take tea out into the garden or out onto the balcony. Or a cool glass of lemonade into the shade on a hot afternoon. Or hot cocoa by the fire on a chilly winter night.

My vote would be for tea and toast in bed. Then again, if someone brought me a glass of wine and some cheese they would not be turned away.

This little tray would make a wonderful hostess gift or a great gift for a newly-wed couple.

Today on Etsy - February 28, 2013

Good Morning! Here we are at the end of February already.

Rather than feature just one item from Etsy, I've created a collage with different items. To see the complete collage, just follow the link by clicking on the photo.

See you in March !

The Beauty of Briolettes

Briolette you say? Is that some take on a French baguette? . . mmmm, no.

A briolette is an elongated pear-shaped gemstone cut with triangular facets. Approximately 800 years ago, the cut was very popular during the Victorian period. Although its popularity waned thereafter, this shape has enjoyed a recent resurgence to precious and semi-precious stones. To which I say, “YEAH !”
Because of its three dimensional shape and faceting, briolettes are not suitable for rings or styles of flat jewelry and instead lend themselves well to drop style pendants and necklaces.

Most luxurious example? The Napoleon Diamond Necklace. To celebrate the birth of his son in 1811, Napoleon Bonaparte presented his second wife, Empress Consort Marie Louise of Austria with a 263 (yes, that’s two hundred and sixty three) carat diamond briolette necklace. It consists of 234 diamonds; 28 cut diamonds on a single thread, off set with alternating pendeloupe and briolette diamond cuts. After her husband’s death, Mrs. Bonaparte returned to her native Austria with the necklace. Two of the pendeloupe clusters were removed from the necklace and made in to a set of earrings for her sister (today, the whereabouts are unknown . . . sad face). The necklace exchanged several hands before being purchased by Harry Winston (yes, THAT Harry Winston . . . of Harry Winston Diamonds) in 1960. Thankfully, he decided to keep the necklace intact rather than remove the stones and sell them individually, as was common practice at that time. The necklace was sold that same year, and then donated in 1962 to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, where it remains on display (I’ve seen it….two words . .  .A MAZING !)
Now, you may not be able to fit a 263 carat diamond necklace into your budget, but having a piece of jewelry with briolettes is worth the investment. There are many price point options, and briolettes are cut in a wide variety of different coloured gemstones. There is added life to a briolette cut, the facets allow for extra light to enter them and refract which makes them beautiful against any skin tone. Couple that with the elegance and extra sparkle and you’re sure to garner compliments and curiosity when wearing this gemstone cut.

Rum Balls for Valentine's Day

My mom loves rum balls. So the other day I thought I would pick some up from the local bakery as a Valentine’s gift for her. Oh My Word…..EXPENSIVE ! Yes, I know they are hand made in house. But at $3.50 each, I decided to pass.

Two nights later I decided to bake a chocolate cake. It was beautiful, it was moist. It was in a ring form pan. I turned the pan upside down too early, and the cake split in the center. Half stayed in the pan, the other half was on the cooling rack. Rather than despair, my immediate thought was “hey…I know, I’ll make rum balls.” So I left the cake to finish cooling completely, then put both halves on a plate, wrapped it and put it in the refrigerator.
The next day I took the cake out and let it come to room temperature. Then I crumbled the cake into a bowl and added dark rum. Don’t know how much; just kept adding rum a little at a time until the cake began to hold together when pressed into balls. Then I rolled the moistened crumb mixture into bite sized balls and set them aside.

Next I got out a couple shallow bowls and put my decorating finishes in each. One for powdered sugar mixed with cocoa powder, another for the traditional chocolate sprinkles, another for pastel and one more for rainbow sprinkles.
I discovered there is a trick to making the different coatings stick. For the powdered mixture, I could just roll the ball in the bowl to coat them, and then place them in the mini paper cups. But for the sprinkles I had to find a way to make them stick. I found the best way was to lightly brush the outside of each ball with a bit of the rum, and then roll it around in the bowl with the sprinkles. A bit tedious, but it got the job done.

I have a few candy and chocolate boxes I’ve saved. I find they are perfect for when giving a treat gift; you don’t have to worry about getting your container back and the packaging can be recycled by the recipient. So after placing each rum ball in a mini paper cup, I arranged them in a gold Godiva chocolate box. Tied the box with a pretty red bow and stored it in the refrigerator until the next day.
When mom got the box, she was confused, because a box of chocolates is not something I would normally give her. So when she opened it, she was delightfully surprised.

And for the next couple days I had to smile whenever I heard her say to a guest “Want a rum ball? My daughter made them for me”. It’s nice to have a gift appreciated, but even nicer to know it’s so well received that the recipient wants to share it with others.

And that’s the spirit of giving.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Today on Etsy - February 05, 2013

A few days ago I posted about hats and how they make people smile. Since then, I have come across these little lovelies by yellowfield7.

Perfect for Valentine's Day.

Today on Etsy - January 31, 2013

Wow! Where did the first month of 2013 go? It's already the end of January. Which means it's that much closer to spring. In the meantime, look at these fun repurposed canning jars from BeachBlues.

Lovely for a spring table, a side table, and entrance way.

Tip of the Hat

The other day I stepped into an elevator. Inside was a gentleman who I suppose was in his early seventies. I say he’s a gentleman because upon my entering the elevator, he promptly removed his hat. And I have to admit that up until that moment, I was having a Bad Monday. Capital B. Capital M.

But when this man removed his hat at my presence, I couldn’t help but smile. I had been acknowledged (presumably as a lady); and it made me lift my chin higher and walk a bit more lightly. And maybe that’s the point.

Why don’t we wear hats anymore? I know men still do (and I’m not talking baseball caps or knitting caps). Think of the ranch hand tipping his Stetson with the anticipated “Ma’am”; or the octogenarians playing chess in the park. But what about us ladies? How many women do you know who routinely wear nice hats? I mean personally know. The Queen doesn’t count.
Remember those funny looking headpieces worn at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton? They are called fascinators for a reason. Love them or hate them, people were  in one way or another …”fascinated” with them. And they needed to be a bit extreme to capture their youth and whimsy. It wouldn’t work for the young princesses to wear the same style of hat that the Queen wears; they would come off looking old and frumpy. Although, the hats that the Queen wears give her a bit of youth and often add a touch of fun to her ensembles.

Sometimes the hat does make the man (or in this case, woman).
I love hats, and have several that I wear. In downtown Vancouver. For no reason. And when you think about it, you’re really wearing the hat for the people around you. I mean, you don’t see it while you’re wearing it. But each time I do wear one, at least one person will stop me and say “oh, what a lovely hat!” Which makes me to smile.

Which is reason enough for me.

Today on Etsy - January 26, 2013

I’ve been ordering button sets from mariiam for a couple years now. I like how the buttons are all a little different, but all matchy-matchy. This makes them great for craft projects such as card making, scrap booking, button flowers, pillow accents …..the list could go on and on.

Shown here is an example of the Valentine mix. There are two size options to choose from: small-medium or medium large. I usually choose two sets in the medium large and one in the small medium so that I have a nice mix of sizes in the same colour range.
The Valentine mix would be perfect for making class cards for Valentine’s Day. An idea is to have your child draw some flower petals and then glue the buttons in the centers. Or cut out some simple hearts and glue the buttons on for decoration, and then write “Cute as a Button”.

Trust me…kids+ buttons+glue=magic.*

*As with all craft projects that involve small children with scissors and small objects, supervision is strongly advised to ensure the safety the child. Ingestion of glue, buttons, glitter or other equally appealing craft supplies is/are not recommended. These items are non-digestible and from experience, a child that eats sparkles will in fact poop sparkles. And buttons. And Lego blocks. Just saying.

Today on Etsy - January 24, 2013

Soft pink and dove grey? Yes please! What a charming and fun bracelet from KIMMSMITH.

Wear it with black, wear it with white. Or navy blue. Or chocolate brown.

Wear it with jeans or with a cocktail dress. And so pretty with a soft grey suit set or blazer.
Would make a great Valentine's gift for a mother or daughter; or if a guy is a little squimish about giving something red or too fancy-smancy to the lady in his life because she hasn't been in it all that long. (You know what I mean, that awkward "We've only been dating a month....what do I give her?" situation).

There are several other colours to choose from, and lots of options for brides, bridesmaids, mother of the bride, mother of the groom, for prom, for the spring formal dance.....or simply just because.

Today on Etsy - January 23, 2013

One of the best things on the internet beside those LOL cats? PDF patterns. Just look at this pretty bolero style shrug. The pattern comes from BernioliesDesigns.

The nice thing about a PDF pattern is that it usually comes to your email Inbox within 24 hours, there is no shipping cost, and you can access it any time or re-print it as need be.
And of course with a pattern, you can make your project any colour you choose. Add beads, sequins or buttons. Thread a ribbon through the lacework of the sleeves and neckline.
In other words, make it your own. Make it work.

Promote What You Love

Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

In life one lesson that we must all be willing to learn is how to focus our energy on the things that we love instead of focusing our energy on the things that we know will never be a part of us.

Instead of talking badly about others, speaking down on situations that are unbecoming, and just being negative overall, we must commit to acting on the positive things in life that we have interest in.

Spending time focusing on negative aspects in life will only lead us closer to destruction, while spending our time and efforts devoted to acting and living positively will only lead to helping construct a better life for ourselves, and the people around us who are able to inspire as well.

So make efforts to promote what you love, instead of bashing what you hate, life is too short to do anything but spread love.

Brunch at Yew

Ah…Sunday Funday!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of joining a friend I hadn’t seen in way too long for brunch. Initially, it was to be a whole gaggle of gals, but because of a nasty flu bug that’s going around and last minute cancellations, it ended up being just the two of us. Which was just as nice. It gave us a chance to catch up that we otherwise might not have had with a whole group.

I have several favourite places for brunching. This time, I chose Yew in the Four Season Hotel. It’s a beautiful room; open, full of light, interesting architectural features and lots of wood accents. We sat in a cozy booth for two, which was not butted directly up against the wall. Instead, there was a 12 inch wide wood “shelf” between the table and the backlit wall, perfect for hand bags and coats. No putting the purse on the floor or on another chair. It’s great when restaurant designers think of the comfort of the guest and combine it with function.

Yew does a 3 course brunch for $29.00. Essentially, you choose a starter, a main course and a dessert. I chose Lemon Buttermilk Pancakes to start, followed by a Goat Cheese and Chive Omelet and finishing with a Brulee Duo. My friend chose a Shaved Apple and Fennel Salad, a BLT Eggs Benedict and the Chocolate Explosion to end.

Instead of standard bread that arrives after ordering, we received little sugared mini donuts with a mixed berry mango dipping sauce. Warm doughnuts? For brunch? I’m in!
Yew also offers all their bottles of wine at 50% off on Sundays. Like I said….Sunday Funday! With just the two of us, we decided to skip on ordering a bottle and save that for when we’re able to have the whole gang. Instead, I had a peach bellini. Not the slushy, overtly sweet kind but the traditional, muddled peach nectar and champagne kind.

And so we enjoyed a nice leisurely two hour brunch catching up and chatting about life and its many twists and turns. Our jobs, our homes, our projects. Bad boyfriends. Family. Afterwards, it was off to Holt Renfrew for some post-brunch shopping.  We oogled over Chanel and Prada, decided that at 60% off, $7995.00 was still too much to pay for a blazer jacket; and then said our goodbyes, with the promise “let’s do this again soon”.

Dinner with Friends = Family Dinner

My girlfriend and I decided we needed to have a dinner party. Well, in truth, she had bottled wine with her roommate and it was time for the wine to be consumed. Not all 30 bottles mind you, but a healthy amount.

So Friday night we rounded up some friends. Or rather, SHE rounded up some friends while I sat at the bar drinking a martini while I waited. Then we were off to T&T market to find “provisions”. The girls in the group wanted to do salmon. But it’s January, so fresh salmon is not exactly plentiful.  Nor is asparagus. While they contemplated the fish in the display case, I took off to find the rest of the meal. Fresh green salad with sugar peas, mandarin sections and apple with a sesame oil red wine vinaigrette, steamed broccoli with lemon juice, yams baked in brown sugar and orange juice. When I found the group again, they had settled on chicken with coconut. Which meant a hunt for panko crumbs. Also picked up some gyoza to start, and some aloe vera juice and papayas to make muddled fruit vodka cocktails. Quick stop at the liquor store for the vodka and we set off for home.

I will say I definitely learnt the pros and cons of six people trying to prepare dinner in a tiny apartment with an uber tiny kitchen space; while you might think the work would go faster because of all those extra hands in truth it took much longer….mainly because we needed to take dance breaks and refill the beverages.

Divide the group into teams of two. Understand that not everyone is comfortable with a knife or knows to remove the seeds before juicing citrus. Know when enough is enough. Relax, have fun…it’s just food.
After a bit of prep work, a few fruity beverages and much laughter later, we sat down to a beautiful dinner with candles and the promised wine.

Today on Etsy - January 14, 2013

Somebody once gave me a card that read, “I love you like vintage loves lace”. Which is pretty à propos, because I love lace. Not the stretchy cheap stuff you find tacked onto panties and tank tops at Walmart, but the real good stuff. Alençon lace, Venice lace, lace from Spain used to make elegant mantillas.

I’ve been researching lace for my upcoming design projects. I’ve decided on Alençon lace or point d'Alençon for several reasons. Alençon lace is has a raised, slightly corded edge to it. This makes it easier to work with for couture designs, where the lace is hand appliqued to the garment. It can be cut to suit the design of the garment, since there is an easily defined pattern repeat. It doesn’t fray as readily. It is often embroidered or beaded, so I don’t have to spend the extra time or money to do this. And it definitely has that vintage lace feel.

Here is a picture of the pieces I've bought from MaryNot Martha to use for my fianl designs / runway presentation. Great selection of all kinds of lace, trims, feathers and millinery accessories. Super prices, fast shipping and based in sunny Pasadena....not overseas. I've bougt from this Etsy seller a couple of times and have always been happy when the package arrives.

The trouble is choosing which pieces I like without spending the bank. Self control and I don't always see eye to eye when it comes to things like lace and buttons.

Today on Etsy - January 04, 2013

So many pretty things, so many credit card statements arriving from the holidays ....

Today's find on Etsy is from bedbuggs. Now normally bed bugs are not a good thing. But these lovely whimsical pillow covers brought a smile to my face.

I am in the process of decorating a friend's apartment. He is out of town a whole bunch, so he essentially gave me a colour scheme and an idea of his taste and is letting me run with it. He does a lot of charity work for American Breast Cancer Society, so pink definitely has to feature in the decor. I have my eye on a couple hot pink and white ones for the white Italian leather sofa.

The pale blue and white one shown here would be great for my living room.

Next pay check.