Friday, October 30, 2009

november to dos

Oh, November. You are so sneaky.

October was a blur. I know, I think I say that every month, but seriously?!

I've been sitting on, mulling over and generally neglecting many projects on my to-do list. And it's time to get my butt in gear.

Goals for November:
  • Craft like crazy in preparation for the FemFest Craft Fair, which is taking place on Nov. 29. At the fair, my lovely crafty friend HH and I will have our first table as Magenta Revolution.
  • Run at least 100 km. I know that sounds like a lot, but it really isn't when you're training five days a week.
  • Paint the candle holder that I blogged about last week and then forgot about.
  • Go see New Moon in the theatre. That's right. I said it. Don't judge.
  • Celebrate my birthday with Husband and lovely friends.
  • Shower sister-in-law A with lots of love at the baby shower that I am co-hosting with sister-in-law C.
  • Take some time to relax and enjoy at least one pumpkin spice latte.
  • Take inventory of all Christmas decorations and plan accordingly.
  • Start working on some handmade holiday gifts.
  • Finalize Christmas card list and continue to work on handmade cards. Have all cards ready to mail by the end of the month.
See? This is what you get for doing nearly nothing in October.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

come on in

When we have a house, I want to create a spacious, yet cozy, entryway/mudroom for our family and our guests.

With a comfortable bench —

With some pretty decor —

With some baskets and bins —

With some convenient organizational aids —

With some perfectly placed hooks —

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

try it tuesday

For next week's edition of Try it Tuesday, I think I will actually try backing up my computer. Apparently our little Mac isn't pleased about storing more than 5,000 high-res images, and has chosen to punish me for it.

So, for this week's Try it Tuesday, I give you one. single. image.

These are our pumpkins. And this is the only image that survived the upload process this morning. That will teach me to select, "Delete Originals." But I digress.

The project of the week is toasted pumpkin seeds. I've never done this before, but I remember my brother doing it in an elementary class and speaking very highly of the salty snack.

I carved into the tops and, with help from lovely friend T, we scooped out all of the gunk. I then transfered the seeds into a strainer and gave them a thorough rinse. I tossed about 2.5 cups of seeds in a few teaspoons of melted butter, gave them a few generous dashes of salt and then baked them in a single layer on a cookie sheet for 45 minutes at 300 degrees.

Here is a Google Images simulation of the end result:

Quite tasty too! I give this project 4 stars. I'll definitely do this again next year, but next time I want to experiment with different seasonings and flavours, like garlic, jalapeno or cinnamon and sugar.

Oh, and don't worry, the pumpkins have been carved. I'll reveal those later in the week, when our little Mac is over its temper tantrum.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

fa la la la la la la la laaaa

In a flurry of organization last spring, I threw away our Christmas tree. It was a cheapie to begin with, and it had lasted two years, but I had no place to store it and hadn't kept its original box, so it shed needles no matter where I shoved it.

So, I'm pretty excited at the prospect of picking out a new one this year. Yes, I realize it's still October. No, I'm not buying one right away. But I feel like I should be smarter about this purchase than I was when I picked out the last one. So, I'm mapping out some criteria.
  1. Get a real tree Sadly, real trees aren't allowed in our apartment building.
  2. Get a tree that looks as close to real as possible. And invest in a pine scented candle to simulate the real thing.
  3. Tree should be pre-lit. Why deal with stringing lights when we don't have to?
  4. Tree should be reasonably sized for our small apartment. Which brings me to this beauty of an invention —
    Manufacturers are making half and corner trees now, to suit those of us with less square footage. Isn't that thoughtful?

    What do you look for in the perfect tree? Any advice to share?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

space savers

Those of us who live in apartments or small condos feel each other's pain. Not only is storage often an issue, but simply having space for furniture and decor can be a challenge. Here are a few ideas I've been mulling over —
  • Try smaller, more efficient furniture
This post was inspired by this nightstand alternative that I noticed recently on Apartment Therapy — convenient and cute:

  • Make use of every nook and cranny.
And this made me think of other ways we can create more livable space. Have you ever tried these?

Having a higher bed would feel more luxurious, and we'd have double the storage area to boot. The only issue is disguising the totes, since an average bedskirt wouldn't do the job. Maybe a custom-made skirt is in order?
  • Get creative.
This also seems smart:

Using over-the-door shoe racks to store miscellaneous junk drawer items, tools, office supplies, or other annoying little things that have no real place.

How do you make the most of your space?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

try it tuesday .. er .. wednesday

A recent New York Times dining article suggested substituting eggs in cookie recipes for ground flax mixed with water.

Huh. Well, lets give it a go, shall we?

For this week's Try it Tuesday, I give you yet another cookie recipe. Not very original, I know, but I just couldn't resist trying out this recipe and doing a blind taste test to see who, if anyone, would notice the difference.

This is the flaxy mixture, as seen in the NYT article (spoiler alert: mine did not turn out looking like this):

Here goes nothing. The ultimate goal is to pull one over on Husband; if he can't tell the difference, everybody wins.

Cookies With Flax

1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed mixed with six tablespoons water (or 2 eggs)
2 cups chocolate chips

Editor's note: What I hadn't realized is the flax we have is actually whole flax seed, not ground. A quick Google search informed me that the whole seed doesn't actually have the same nutritional value, as they can pass through your system undigested.

The food processor didn't even touch the tiny seeds, so I had to bring out the big guns:

The blender mulched it up perfectly. Then I added the water and tucked it into the fridge for an hour, as the article suggested. When I was ready to add it to the cookie dough, it had become slightly thicker — sort of the consistence of egg whites.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugars and vanilla extract, and then add the flaxseed mixture.

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and oatmeal in a separate bowl, and then stir into the butter mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for about eight minutes at 375 degrees.

And the taste test? Delicious! I give them a full 5 stars, especially for the chewy texture. Lovely friend A guessed that the secret ingredient was marshmallow because the morsels were so soft. Lovely friend T also gave the cookies the thumbs up, and Husband has been eating cookies like crazy, and still has no idea, until he reads this post, that I made a switch. Success!

what do you think?

I have this cute wicker pillar-candle holder that I picked up at Jysk for less than $10 last year. The problem is, the inside of it has become stained with black soot from the burning candles and I can't seem to clean it.

It wasn't something I exactly invested in, so it wouldn't be the worst thing if I threw it away, but I'm thinking that's just too easy.

So I'm going to paint it and see if I can transform it into something I'll use. But what colour? I've narrowed it down to three — deep red, chocolate brown or sage green.

Readers, you choose!

i swear, i tried it on tuesday

Blogger was in a bad mood last night. As a result, I could not post photos of the Try it Tuesday that I so diligently created when I got home from work yesterday. So, please bear with me and my buddy Blogger; we promise to have a new trial adventure posted before day's end.

Monday, October 19, 2009

not me monday

— It was not WW3 here last week when sweet little Ellie had to go to the vet to be spayed. She looked at me with her loving eyes that said, "Sure, I'd love to get in my carrier and head over to the vet for a mid-week invasive procedure." She did not maim my arm and proceed to pee all over her blanket, which was lining the carrier. It was a very pleasant experience for both of us.

— For the first morning in a long time, I got up before Husband once last week. And, being the perfect wife that I always am, I did not flip on the light in the bedroom, where he was still asleep, and open the door to let Scarley and Ellie in to give him a proper wake-up call. Given the opportunity, I would definitely let Husband sleep in.

— After hours of cleaning and organizing over the weekend, the apartment does not still look like it's been hit by a tornado. I don't get very easily distracted and hop around from project to project, resulting in many, many half-finished tasks.

For more Not Me Monday posts by other bloggers, click here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

home homework

I bumped into a friend on the bus recently and we had a lovely catch-up chat. She's a newlywed and just moved into her first house. It's a very exciting time for her and I was thrilled to hear all of the details.

I often ask lovely work friend J about her new home. She and her hubby have a stunning house and I envy her when she talks about decorating, painting, landscaping and buying furniture.

I'm also very aware that having a house of our own will mean a lot more responsibilities than our apartment — snow-shoveling, lawn-mowing, wall-painting, little-things-fixing, big-things-fixing ...

But with the extra responsibility come the added perks — like more square footage, less carpet, outdoor space, decor freedom ...

Chatting with my home-owning friend reminded me that it's not as simple as signing on the mortgage line. Bankers, brokers, realtors, lawyers — there's so much involved! I now have a new energy to get on the ball when it comes to these matters. While we're not quite ready to dive into real estate just yet, I want to be prepared when it is time — hopefully not far in the future!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

in holiday limbo

I'm over it. It's only October 15 and I'm completely over Halloween. I'm ready to pack up the candle holders, faux cobwebs and orange mini-lights and move on.

Maybe I jumped on it too early this year. Though, in my defense, I really didn't decorate or start buying miniature treats until October 8. Maybe I should realize that a day like Halloween really only needs to last 24 hours, rather than an entire month. I don't even really like Halloween, anyway. What was I thinking?

I do, however, love fall. I love the crunchy leaves on the ground and the crispness in the air. I love bundling up for a hike or a run. And over the weekend, Husband and I realized that we both love delicious pumpkin lattes.

I keep looking at the pumpkins that Husband and I bought last weekend, thinking that I really have no interest in carving them. Rather than the standard jack-o-lantern designs, I think I'll try something a little more representative of the season —

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

try it tuesday

I've been a little obsessed with French braids lately. It's probably, in part, because my hair is finally long enough to braid, and partially, in part, because you always want what you can't have. And I can't do a French braid, on myself or anyone else.

My lovely friend J is really good at French braiding her own hair and I always wished I could do it too.

So, with a little help from this Wiki tutorial, I decided to give it a try.
  • Brush or comb the hair thoroughly, removing all knots or tangles.
  • Separate a section of hair from the rest of the hair at the place where you want to begin the braid.
  • Separate the section of hair into three strands. Be sure that the strands are completely separated all the way to the ends.
  • Cross the rightmost strand over the middle strand.
  • Hold the leftmost strand with your left pinkie while moving the rightmost strand from your right hand to your left. Shift the new rightmost strand (used to be the middle strand) from your right hand to your left.
  • Add some hair from the right side of the head to the rightmost strand. Use your right index finger to pick up a section of hair from the right side of the head and add it to the new rightmost strand.
  • Cross the leftmost strand over the middle strand. Grasp the rightmost strand with your right pinkie, then rotate your left hand so that you can grasp the leftmost strand in your right hand. Shift the new leftmost strand to your right hand.
  • Add hair from the left side of the head to the new leftmost strand. Use your left index finger to pick up a section of hair from the left side of the head and add it to the leftmost strand.
  • Continue braiding. Cross the rightmost strand over the middle, add hair to new rightmost strand, cross the leftmost strand over the middle, add hair to new leftmost strand, and repeat until there is no more hair to add.
  • Braid the rest of your hair normally as far down as you can reach. If you have longer hair, bring the braid forward over your shoulder and braid in the opposite direction (instead of folding the strands towards you, you will be folding them away from you).
  • Tie off or clip the end of the braid.
Does that seem straight forward to you? I read the directions a couple of times and then threw caution to the wind. Here is the end result:

Not too bad for my first try, if I do say so myself. I really didn't think it would work out at all, so I'm pretty proud that I actually got all of my hair into a style that resembles a French braid, and on my first try!

You should try it too! Hey, French braid pros, got any tips?

Monday, October 12, 2009

not me monday

— I did not have to call my mother from the grocery store last week because I didn't know "how" to buy a turkey. I couldn't see her raise her eyebrows at me through the phone when she asked, "What do you mean, you don't know how to buy a turkey?" I didn't proceed to ask her every turkey-cooking question in the book while pushing my cart down the aisles of the store. Seriously, she's like the Mum who saved Thanksgiving.

— I did not turn to Husband yesterday and completely sincerely ask, "What's the date today?" (on the occasion of our first wedding anniversary). He did not look at me in utter shock and then reply, "That's something I would say!"

— In yet another moment of pure genius yesterday ...

Me: Husband, how long is a football field?
Husband: 100 yards.
Me: Wow, that's really long. Isn't that a kilometre?

It was too late. The words flew out of my mouth before I had time to connect my brain to my lips. I swear I am not that stunned in real life. Really.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

one year

I woke up this morning with a smile on my face.

I've actually woken up with that same smile each day for a whole year.

Husband always takes care of me. He laughs at my jokes (even when he doesn't think they're funny). He makes me coffee. every. single. morning. For that, he is my hero. There are so many ways he makes me feel important and loved.

On this day last year, I was thrilled that our wedding day had finally arrived. All of the planning had been worth it. And our day was perfect.

And after the dinner and the dancing and the photos and the fun with family and friends, when it was just us again, I realized what it all really means.

Over the past year, we have become closer friends, comfortable roommates and fallen even more in love. Being married is everything we hoped it would be, and more.

When I'm with him, there's nowhere else I'd rather be.

I love you, Husband. Happy 1st Anniversary xo

Friday, October 9, 2009

gobble gobble

Hello. My name is Lindsey. And I am a vegetarian.

And last night ... I bought a 13 lbs. turkey.

(Mental note: Don't Google image search "turkey" ever again. Ever.)

Gobble. Gobble.

To all of my readers abroad who may not realize, this weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada. Growing up, I actually got to celebrate Thanksgiving twice — once on the second weekend of October, and then again during the third week of November with my lovely American relatives.

This isn't technically the first turkey I've made. Four years ago, lovely friend A and I cooked one, and if I recall correctly, it was a hit. So this should be a piece of cake, right? Or maybe a piece of pie?

Now, if I was really ambitious, I would make these little cuties:

Isn't this the cutest idea? I'm putting this one in the ol' memory bank.

Whether you're near or far, I hope you have a wonderful weekend with family and friends. Safe travels!

Happy Thanksgiving! xo

slowly but surely

I've recently taken up running and I wasn't sure I wanted to blog about it. But we've been at it long enough now that I'm totally confident in our goal.

Lovely friend T has been a runner for years and has completed many competitive races, including marathons. She recently became a neighbour so now she and I, and lovely friend A are running together 5 days a week (minus days with torrential down pours).

Since our running regimen started on September 23, we've run almost 50 km. We started out on a run 3-walk 1 (minutes) schedule, followed by a run 4-walk 1, and now we're just running the whole time. Our goal is to run the Hypothermic Half (a half marathon = 21 km) in February.

So to all you runners out there — have any advice for us?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

my mood

This pretty much says it all. Can you tell I'm looking forward to the weekend?

back into the crafty swing of things

Craft nights have been fairly sporadic lately, but when the girls and I do have a chance to get together, I'm always grateful for the distraction from busy, everyday life.

Last night, we gathered at my place. Lovely friend S made pretty tags for Christmas gifts from holiday cards she'd saved over the years. Lovely friend HH added stunning, hand-painted accents to a couple of frames that she had turned into earring holders. And I made these:

Though I'm not a huge fan of Halloween, it does provide plenty of inspiration for cute handmade cards.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

try it tuesday

I know. I owe you. Big time. I totally flaked on Try It Tuesday last week. I'd blame my busy work schedule, general fatigue, lack of a good idea — but I know you don't want to hear it. Let's forgive and forget, shall we?

You know the feeling when you need. NEED. something deliciously chocolatey? That's where I was the other night and just when I thought I had everything I needed to whip up a batch gooey brownies — no butter. Agh.

Thanks to good ol' Google, I found this recipe for chocolate chip cookies sans butter.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Made With Oil

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Stir together flour, soda and salt. Set aside.

Whisk together both types of sugar, oil, egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture to oil mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips

Using a tablespoon measure, scoop up dough and shape into tight rounds of about ¾ to 1 inch. Space them about 2 inches apart on two ungreased cookie sheets. The mounds should be bursting with chips. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.
Makes 2 dozen.

I had already sent Husband to the grocery store for vanilla ice cream to accompany my homemade chocolatey treat, so I couldn't let his good deed go to waste.


I was lucky to have three taste testers on hand — Husband, lovely friend A and lovely friend T. We all agreed that these cookies were just as good or better than the Toll House recipe I usually use — and not only did this recipe call for less grease, but oil is also cheaper to buy than butter.

While I only had vegetable oil on hand when my treat craving was out of control, in the future, I'd swap it out for a healthier oil, like canola or peanut oil. What would you use?