Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Conquer Clutter

I was asked to answer a few questions, for a contributers page, about small spaces and "conquering clutter". As I plunked down my thoughts, I scanned my office. Ugh. I have definitely not conquered clutter. After answering the questions, I started to go through the cupboards and shelves in my work space. Let's just say, a garage sale will be happening in the next month, and my office will go through a few changes. I will share the results of my purging and mini reno. If any of you lovely bloggers have some decluttering advice, please fill me in!

To celebrate Canada Day (we're 143 years old!), I thought I'd leave you with this image. I do not know why I have this (probably scanning ebay whilst drinking wine, and thought "oh, a mountie"), but I can promise you, it will be part of the garage sale. You may have to get here early if you want this little guy ;)

Happy Canada Day! Hope the sun is shining where you are!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Baked on Monday - Oatmeal Raspberry Chocolate Muffins

By the sound of some of your comments regarding Friday Fantasies, you all had lovely weekends. Happy to hear it!

This week I've baked a batch of oatmeal raspberry chocolate muffins. They seem a bit more sensible and slightly less sugary and fatty than past recipes! Having said that, they are pretty bloody delicious.

Oatmeal Raspberry Chocolate Muffins - makes 12

1 cup milk at room temperature
1 tsp white vinegar
1 cup rolled oats (do not use 'quick' oats)
1 large egg at room temperature
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter (allow to cool a little before adding)
1 cup plus 2 tblsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
1/2 tsp cinnamon, freshly ground
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 dark chocolate chips or chunks

Combine milk, vinegar and oats in a bowl and let stand for one hour.
Preheat oven to 375f. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin and line with papers.
Crack egg into the oat mixture then sugar and stir to combine. Stir in melted butter. Sift remaining ingredients into the bowl  (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, spices). Fold in to batter, gently, taking care not to over mix. Add raspberries and chocolate and fold in gently.

Scoop batter with a 1/3 cup and place in each cup. Bake for about 15-18 minutes, until light brown on top. When ready, tops should spring back when touched. Allow to cool in tins....if you can wait that long.

Eat up!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Fantasies

Do any of you have "Friday fantasties", but you know they will remain just that - fantasties? This coming weekend is one of those for me. I would love to be frolicking in the water, or just lounging by the water, but the reality is I'll be doing some post production and assisting a sister with her move (I'm happy to do it, Wendy. Really.).


What would you like to do, or are doing, this lovely weekend? Feel free to make me envious. Have a good one!

PS. I goofed. I accidentally "rejected" a comment, that I meant to "publish". It was a really sweet comment too. I'm sorry about that!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sweet Comfort....and a little give-away

I seem to get quite excited when I find something that is just, well, comfortable. Like the pillows at Ace Hotel in NY. Nighty night.

I recently picked up a pair of Urbanears, from Walrus, and they're making my hours of post production work sail right on by. The sound is great, and they feel perfect sitting on my ears. Have any of you tried them out yet? I can't wait to use them on the next looooong flight to Australia.

Next bit of comfort are these Toms. I know they've been around awhile, but I only just jumped on the bandwagon. Holy comfort. I never want to take them off. I love their company policy as well: You buy a pair of their shoes, they give a pair of shoes to a child in need. Enough said.

Now, about that "give-away". Check out Flourish Design + Style. She's got an 11 day give-away going on. Lots of great stuff. Up for grabs today is one of my prints. You get to choose which one.

Back to my day of post production, with happy ears. Ahhh.

Have a lovely day everyone!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Baked on Monday - Chocolate Toffee Brittle

Actually, these were baked on Sunday as I've got a very early morning shoot to get to today. I hope you all had a great weekend!

This cookie (a.k.a. cookie crack) is incredibly easy to bake. The best part is cracking it all apart. My niece stayed over the weekend, so I left the cracking up to her. I picked up this recipe from a bake sale I held, with my pal Heather, for the Vancouver Food Bank.

Chocolate Toffee Brittle - Makes two 10"x15" baking sheets of deliciousness

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, cold
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
3 cups flour
1 package Skor toffee bits (in the baking section of super market)
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325f.
Combine butter and sugar with fingers. Add vanilla, salt, then flour. Mixture will be crumbly (see picture below). Add skor bits and chocolate chips.

Pat down evenly into ungreased baking sheet with sides or jelly roll pan. Bake for about 25 minutes. Let cool and break into pieces. Enjoy (and you will)!!

I discovered it goes really well with ice cream too!

Have a lovely day bloggers!

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's Friday....and that's good

Happy Friday everyone! I don't know why I love Fridays so much. It's not like I have a regular 'work' schedule, but I do love the weekends. Please let us have some sun, here in Vancouver.

I've finally added some new prints to my etsy shop. I've really got to get more organized. It's bonkers how long it takes me to sort out images.  Any suggestions from you savvy and organized esty people would be greatly appreciated! I've posted a sampling of the new prints - would love to hear any feedback. Merci!

Hope you all have a great weekend! Back on Monday with some kind of a cookie for Baked on Monday.  I kind of feel like eating cookies right now....but I'll wait.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Baked on Monday - Apricot Coconut Bars

It's sunny today, so it seemed like a day for apricot coconut bars. I'm heading out to visit Heather and Midge, and these bars will be coming with me, as they go down way too fast, and I can't be trusted.

Apricot Coconut Bars

For the crust:
5 ounces all purpose flour
2 tblsp sugar
pinch of salt
4 oz cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (must be cold butter or be ready for disappointment!)

For the topping:
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tblsp apricot jam
1 tblsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pure almond extract
1 cup firmly packed chopped dried apricots
1/4 sweetened shredded coconut

Make the crust: Position oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and heat oven to 350f/180c. Lightly grease and 8 inch square pan, and line bottom with parchment paper. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter cubes and pulse until mixture resembles pea size pebbles. You could also cut in butter with a pastry cutter. Pour the dough into the pan and press down to form an even layer. Bake until the crust is lightly golden, about 25-30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and leave oven set to 350f/180c.

Make the topping: While the crust is baking, combine the brown sugar, egg, apricot jam, flour, baking powder, salt and almond extract in a medium size bowl. Whisk until blended, then stir in chopped apricots and coconut. Scrape the topping out onto the baked crust and spread evenly. Continue baking until the topping is brown around the edges, and a pick inserted into the centre comes out just a bit sticky - about 20 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely before inverting onto a cutting board. Using a warm, thin bladed knife, trim off edges and cut into bars.

Store at room temperature, or freeze in an airtight container separating the layers with waxed paper....if you don't eat them all within a day!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Running Around Vancouver

Some days my job takes me all over the city. It never fails to amaze me that you can find yourself on a garden rooftop in Chinatown, a couple of hours later at a beach a few kms away, then just a couple of blocks from the beach you can feel like you're in a country town. I love living in the city. 

The day started off in Chinatown at 7:30am with my friends Julian and Alison of Considered Design. They designed this fantastic roof top garden at the Wing Sang building. The Two Half Cylinders structure (two way mirror and yew hedge) was designed by American artist Dan Graham. If you have to be up and at 'em at 7:30 in the morning, this is a beautiful place to be. Even in the rain. 

In between meetings and shoots, I stopped off at Locarno Beach. The sun had popped out and the beach was pretty much empty. The tide was out, so there was lots of slimy seaweed to walk over. Managed to slip and ended up sitting in it. Lovely seaweed butt for the remainder of day. Nice. Again, beach was pretty much empty, so I didn't entertain too many people. 

Just a few blocks from the beach there are cute community gardens running along old and overgrown train tracks. 

Last stop on Friday was the Millennium waterfront project. This area housed the Olympic athletes during the winter games. Love the giant birds. Kind of feels like you're in a Pixar film. 

Have a fabulous weekend! Hope it's sunshiny wherever you are. Back on Monday for Baked On Monday....some kind of bar this time. Mmmm.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Trip to Chinatown with Poppytalk

Hello bloggers! Check out Poppytalk for my "Getting Crafty in Chinatown" post. I showed Jan all my favourite shops for cheap pick-me-ups. Hope you are inspired to check out your city's Chinatown. Let me know what you think!

By the way, if you missed Baked On was a pretty tasty one. Check it out.
I hope you have a lovely day!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Baked on Monday - Lemon Hazelnut Loaf

Hope a lovely weekend was had by all. I just got back from a very quick trip to Toronto. I'd been nominated for a couple of National Magazine Awards for stories I shot for Style At Home. My decision to go was at the last minute. Didn't win, but it was so much fun....and it really was nice just to be nominated. I think I'm finally sober now ;)

I woke up craving this delicious lemon hazelnut loaf. It's baking as I type. Instead of making one loaf, I've used mini pans to make six of them. Looks way cuter as well!

Lemon Hazelnut Loaf (or loaves!)
makes one large loaf or six small

125g butter, softened
1 cup berry sugar (a.k.a. caster or super fine)
plus 1/4 cup extra sugar (for lemon syrup)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 chopped hazelnuts
Grated rind and juice of a large lemon (or 2 small lemons)

Preheat oven to 350f/180c. Grease one large loaf tin or six small tins.

Cream butter well, then add sugar and beat again. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sifted flour and salt, and milk, alternatively. Add hazelnuts and lemon rind. Pour batter into one large tin or divide evenly into six small tins. If using large tin bake for about 40-45 minutes. Bake 25 minutes if using small tins. 

For lemon syrup, combine lemon juice and remaining sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved.  Pour syrup over loaf while still hot. Let cool in tin. Enjoy!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Speedy Week

That was one fast week. It's been a busy one, with a couple of shoots and a fun project I'm working on  with Poppytalk (I love Jan.)
Next week is not nearly as busy. Looking forward to reading blogs, getting some actual exercise would be nice, and just hanging out.
I'm in Toronto for the next couple of days, back to do a little baking on Monday. 
I leave you with a random pic of roses on a suitcase.

Have a lovely weekend!