Tuesday, December 30, 2008

30th birthday recap

OK, so it's time to talk about my best-ever birthday. This year was a great life landmark - three decades! These sort of birthdays deserve parties and I'm lucky enough to have had Katie and Nuno throw me a Christmas in Mexico themed birthday!
This party was really easy and fun to plan. It took one night and a trip around the block to a couple dollar stores and Party Packagers to make happen.

Just like Katie's Guitar Hero birthday, we purchased a sheet of cake from Subs Plus with the icing on the side and put together this pinata cake.

We had my sister, DJ Lupita cranking her amazing christmas record collection.

Just like the invitation indicated, we had chicken carnitas, refried beans and tacos. Hard and soft shell. Along with plenty of snacks like chips & salsa and guacamole.

To drink - Tequila! Just kidding, we stuck to Coronas, sangria, mojitos and Mexican hot chocolate.
It was a bit of a downer that the snow storm snowed people in. But, man, some of our friends are real troopers and drove from the GTA to come to the party. It meant so much to me to have them come down!!

On the day of my birthday I spent it with my husband. We stayed over night at a hotel in Niagara Falls and went to these waterslides all day!
They aren't usually open on Tuesdays, but I guess because of the Christmas holidays (or my birthday;) they were open. It wasn't too busy so there weren't long line-ups. For dinner we met up with my family at Zee's. It's my favourite restaurant in Niagara on the Lake and it was great. I had my first icewine martini!

So now I'm 30 and I really don't think I look or act like it. It made me feel really good that so many neighbours and coworkers thought I was 23. I don't know, is that a good thing? I'll say it is because I don't feel a day older than 24.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Card 2008

Incase you're not on our Christmas card list (you should be!),

We Wish You A Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

winter warm-up

Last week we had our fireplace serviced and cleaned, our carbon monoxide detector is plugged in & working. For the first time since we bought our home we can enjoy our gas fireplace. I didn't have any appreciation for fireplaces until we went to Blue Mountain. Now, I can't imagine winter life without one. It's so relaxing and cozy - this photo of Hot Tot sums it up perfectly.
Speaking of winter warm-ups, I wanted to share one of my favourite super easy pasta recipes. Whole Wheat Penne with Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes. The recipe is here, it's from Martha Stewart Everyday Food book.

Gosh, it's so good!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Welcome to my home for the holidays!

Our home for the holidays seems to look better every year. I took lots of photos today and yesterday because the weather was so bright. OK, I went a little photo crazy....

Here is a wreath my mom bought for me last year. It's so beautiful at night outside when the lights reflect of the glass balls.

Urns are everywhere these days, and to buy a premade arrangement can cost tons of cash. I made this one for less than $15.

I mentioned about this store called Granny Taught Us How, I bought 2 of these reindeer plates there. They fit right in with the holiday scheme!

The dangling silver christmas ball is the other new item from Granny Taught Us How.

I was thinking of starting a new christmas tradition of including chocolate coins in the decor mix.

This shelf is huge, I can't get a proper photo of everything on it in one pic. So here's 1/4 of it.

Most people decorate with nativity scenes, but we have our own self obsessed knitted doll shrine.

Last year my mom got me place card holders in the style of Christmas balls.

A couple years ago Target had Tord Boontje design their holiday merchandise and I was friggin' obsessed with trying to get everything of his. Lucky for me, his designs didn't fare well with the WNYers because I got all of his plates on sale half off. I love them so much we use them year round. They are so well made, not a single one has chipped or cracked and the design hasn't faded a bit.

Hot Tot seemed to get really jealous that photos were being taken without her in them. So she went ahead and posed for this final one.

You know that feeling you get when you really love where you live? I get that all the time, but most especially during the holiday season. This is the time of year I just love staying at home nice and warm cuddling with Hot Tot and enjoy all the lights. I'm really excited because we are getting our gas fireplace serviced this week, I'll have to get a photo once it's up an running. Actually, this will be the first year the rec room will be decorated for the holiday - the motif - Christmas in Mexico! Oh, the stories I have about my 30th Birthday Party and the blast it is planning... check back for all that good stuff...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Moms Rule

Last Monday was my mom's birthday and two days before the big day I still hadn't found the perfect gift. I was getting a little stressed wondering what to get her. As we were driving back from Blue Mountain I saw a sign for one of our advertisers called, Granny Taught Us How. Their ad is always so cute and my coworkers and I always talked about how much we wanted to visit this store. But its in Violet Hill, where the heck is that? Well, it's somewhere between Collingwood and Brampton! So I veered off and went nuts in this store. It was there I found the cutest handmade rug and bracelet for my mom. For myself, awesome Christmas decor (which I will try and blog about later). My mom loved the gifts but also part of the gift was dinner at my place. Last night I had the family over for my mom's favourite meal - Eggplant Parmesan. I made two different squares for dessert, lemon squares and baklava.
So good!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blue Mountain

I was so lucky to get away this past weekend to Blue Mountain Resort. What a way to get into the Christmas spirit! Mind you, it didn't come easily driving 30 km/hr from Barrie to Collingwood resulting in a 5 hour drive. But once we got past that we woke up to the most gorgeous coating of 3 feet of snow.

The resort has an adorable village of boutiques, restaurants and bars.
Our suite had everything from a jacuzzi to fireplace. Ice wine made it perfect!

We're not into skiing but this get away was perfect. It was the off-season before the slopes are open, so the resort was quite empty and all the restaurants were discounting meals.

Day or night, it was truly beautiful.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I didn't think it was possible to appreciate the US anymore now with Obama and Off Beat Cinema, but they did it again....

Straight from 'Vesuvio' winery in Italy is Soprano's wine! I think I'll enjoy this tonight while listening to Little Steven's Underground Garage. Yep, I had to share this before I go all Christopher Moltisanti on it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Southern Tier Brewery

Saturday afternoon we decided to take a trip to a brewery. Microbreweries offer informative tours similar to wine tours only they have an all you can sample policy (not that that's the reason we took it, just sayin'). We found out about a WNY brewery from Mike who had this awesome creme brulee beer, so it piqued our interest. Once we found out the address we plugged it into the GPS and it said that it was 2 and a half hours away. That almost swayed us out of it, but thought, why not? The GPS told no word of a lie, it was a very long trip. At one point I kept driving down the road and ended up in Pennsylvania. But we arrived in time for the tour so I'll share some photos.

The tour was filled with middle aged male beer nerds. They were only too excited to ask in depth questions about yeast cultures and details on fermentation.

Probably the coolest thing about this tour was the tasting straight from the cask. This beer was not filtered or carbonated and will be ready to finish and bottle next Monday.

We decided to buy a growler of IPA (India Pale Ale) along with gifts for Mike for Christmas.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

eye on the prize

For Tot's winning costume, the prize was 2 plush pug toys. One was a beanie baby and one a life sized pug. We decided to display the costume on Tot's prize... but I think she may be a little jealous somebody else gets to wear her costume.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Comfort Food #1

I realized it's been a while since I posted a recipe. With the time change and leaves falling from trees it's really feeling like winter will soon settle in. This is the time of year where using the oven warms the home and comfort food feels best. Of course, the ultimate in comfort food is Macaroni & Cheese. After trying so many homemade Macaroni & Cheese recipes I found that many don't have much of a wow factor or are too laborious to be bothered. I came across this recipe and have tried it several times and found it to be the easiest and quickest (as in - get home from work and eat dinner at a reasonable time). From Nigella Lawson's 'Nigella Express'

Macaroni & Cheese
half a small package of shells (or your pasta of choice)
half a brick of aged Cheddar and half a brick of Gruyere (or all Cheddar, of course)
3/4 can of Evaporated Milk
2 Eggs
Sprinkle of Nutmeg (or grating if you actually use fresh)
Salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 450. Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain and return to hot pan. While pasta is cooking, put cheese, evaporated milk, eggs and nutmeg in food processor and blitz (or grate cheese & mix everything by hand). Pour cheese sauce over pasta, stir well and season with salt & pepper to taste (admittedly, I add quite a bit of salt, I feel it needs it)
Bake in a large shallow baking dish in a very hot oven for 10 - 15 minutes, or until bubbling and blistered on top. Don't over-bake or it will become dry.
In the photos I added seasoned breadcrumbs for extra flavour - it doesn't come highly recommended.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween 2008

Halloween is over and this one was just as memorable as previous years. It started with the time spent gluing a bald-cap to Nuno's head. This was very labour intensive but turned out amazing.Our theme this year was the movie Taxi Driver. I'm Iris (Easy), Nuno is Travis Bickel and Hot Tot is a NYC Checker Taxi cab.
Believe it or not Nuno and I almost abandoned Tot's costume several times, but as soon as one of us got fed up, the other one would dream up a solution to complete the costume. I'm not sure we will ever try and create a dog costume this involved in the future.

Shaun and Leslie had the most festive and creative Halloween party this past Friday night. Check out this spread!
It was tons of fun with a crowd of somewhat obscure costumes. Like, the new, as of yet to be officially released Green Lantern character universe.

The Halloween fun continued Saturday at Pug-O-Ween. Pug-a-lug Rescue put on a fundraiser as well as costume contest at the leash free dog park. What a turn out they had! And oh my gosh, the costumes. Here are some of my favourites:

this group was the Wizard of Oz.

There was a black pug dressed as Aunt Jemima but we never quite got a photo of her as she wouldn't stop zooming around the park for a photo.

The most memorable moment of this years Halloween was when they called Hot Tot to claim first prize! Yep, she won!!!

What a proud pug mama I am.

Monday, October 27, 2008

costume preview

so bad it's good

Katie somehow whipped up an entire zine in past couple weeks. I don't quite know how she did it between work and school, but she managed to squeak it in just in time for Canzine this past weekend. The day before the event she needed me to design the cover from the cool illustration Blair drew and print it off for her. I started thinking about the table set-up at Canzine and pulled out light strings, made a quick banner and used a duvet cover as a table cloth. Here's how Katie's table turned out. Looked great, eh?
Katie's zine turned out fantastic - here's how to get a copy.

It was almost kind of nice how the Canzine
mayhem happened out of the blue to give me a bit of a break from halloween. Before Katie called for some help I was sewing my shirt for my costume. As I was pushing a sleeve through the machine I flipped the front of the shirt into my Saturday morning coffee. Then moments later the machine totally seized up on me. I felt so hopeless and called my mom for some sewing machine guidance. Luckily I fixed the sewing machine problem and rocked the shirt into completion, gave it a wash and it's good to go for iron-on decals now. That means my costume is completely done and I couldn't be more excited about it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

glittered spiders

Now that Halloween is in full gear I'm finding it hard finding time to blog about it. The costumes are really taking shape and the house is all decked out in Halloween. I held back with the decor this year as we aren't holding any parties. Just the usual holiday decor of candles, mums, gourds and pumpkins.
When not working on costumes I've been spreading a new Halloween fashion trend - glittered spider rings. I made black, orange and silver rings and they seemed to get a lot of notice. So I've started a cottage industry and made some for family, co-worker and co-workers daughters.