I have to say that shopping for home goods has not been too exciting for me these days, due to the fact that everyone is stocking up on everything, making anything a challenge to purchase. Today, I went to Walmart in search of blinds, and to my dismay, there was not a single box left that would fit my windows. I walked into HomeSense a few days ago just to get inspired by bedding for my son’s bed, but when I got there, the store was empty like they were going out of business!
I understand that people have been home long enough to be all over their to-do lists at home, but when merchandise is sparse, I get snappy. So, what is the reason for the hold up? Could it be that cargo is awaiting border security clearance? Or are people going overboard with the purchasing? Not to mention, the online shopping that takes a year and a day to arrive at our doors! Will normal ever make its reappearance? Or is this predicament that we are in, one that will set the tone for the road ahead?
It is difficult to get passionate about shopping since we have been so far removed from malls, and masks that have become a “never leave home without it” item, whose importance ties neck and neck with mastercard. Am I ranting? Maybe. All I wanted was three identical blinds that are sold out everywhere, which would break the forbearance of even the meekest in character. I’m so dramatic, I know, but I had to get it out of my system.
I will pick myself up off the floor and find another fantastic deal on blinds elsewhere. There must be an upside to all of this, and it is my duty to find it, and relish. The decorating must go on, and I am determined to see my projects through to their glamorous ends. I know I definitely struck a chord that makes you sing too, so this is a declaration to good old-fashioned shopping making its comeback. Happy Monday everyone!
Canada Day celebrations were a success! The kids had a great time and the bbq was delicious! Of course you know I had to do a Canada Day cake, which turned out fabulous, and we ended the night watching fireworks from our front steps. Neighbours were high spirited as they passed with well wishes, and feelings of patriotism flowed through me as a very proud Canadian. Presently in this world, this country is one of the safest in the face of COVID, and for this we are grateful.
Today, my kids had a banana bake off and it was exciting to see how much they have learned from me. I gave them a recipe and the ingredients, and they went to town! They added blueberries and chocolate chips, sparing no clean dishes;) Kids love to be in control of things adults usually do. This gave them an opportunity to let their baking talents shine, and it was a proud moment for me.
Scorching hot days have sent the grass in the neighbourhood into a dead, dry mess! I have been spending all my evenings watering it down, trying to keep the green alive! What a price to pay just to have healthy grass, but I have to say that my grass is the best on the block! Have people given up on lawn upkeep? It seems as though my poor neighbours have lost the battle, and have thrown in the towel. For those of you who have lawns to tend to, are you experiencing a similar fate? I am bracing myself for the water bill. Between my kids running through the sprinklers in the day, and me watering the lawn at night, I’ll definitely be in for a big surprise! I won’t even mention the weeds that have come to take what’s left of my patience for gardening!
If you are a fabulous gardener, and have a pristine lawn this summer, I’d love for you to send a pic and gloat. It’s all in good fun! A little competition never hurt anyone;) I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead! Happy Sunday everyone!
If you have a love for art, this segment might be one of your favourites! I’m sure you’ve all heard of paint nights at the local restaurants or pubs. Imagine planning a huge paint night gathering online! One person is responsible for the display of the piece, while others put their materials together to create their masterpiece!
You could take your talent to the backyard, and set up your makeshift studio by twilight. Everyone can pay a small fee to take part, and the proceeds are kept for the individual who is voted to have the best rendition of the original.
Some paintings that might be of interest for an event like this, are pieces like the following:
From Picasso to Van Gogh, it would be exciting to recreate pieces that are well-known to many. Unless you are dealing with some serious talent, you might want to stay away from portraits, and stick to landscapes and scenery. That way, the technique is manageable for most, and the focus will be on having fun, rather than perfection.
Never forget the food and drinks! Where is the fun without the refreshments? A fruity Sangria paired with an elaborately topped cracker hors d’oueurves, completes your painting soiree. It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t share some fabulous recipes!
2 bottles Spanish red wine (Rioja wine is most popular)
1/2 cup brandy
2 oranges, one juiced and one diced
1 green apple, diced
1 lemon, diced
1 cinnamon stick
optional sweetener: simple syrup* or maple syrup
optional bubbles: lemon-lime soda, ginger ale or sparkling water
Add the wine, brandy, orange juice, diced orange, diced apple, diced lemon and cinnamon stick to a large pitcher. Stir to combine. Taste and add in a few tablespoons of sweetener, if desired.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
Serve the sangria over ice, topping off each glass with a splash of bubbly soda (or sparkling water) if desired.
*Simple Syrup: To make simple syrup, just combine equal parts sugar (or honey) with water. Give the mixture a stir and heat until the sugar (or honey) has dissolved. Then use immediately, or cover and refrigerate in a sealed container until ready to use.
*Recipe taken from gimmesomeoven.com
Cracker Appetizer For Parties
5 oz King Oyster Mushrooms (about 2 regular size ones), finely diced
1/4 cup green bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 oz tuna from a can, drained and flaked
cracker cut cheese of choice (I used Jalapeño Jack Cheese)
20 water crackers
cilantro leaves for garnishing (optional)
FOR THE SEASONINGS:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon herb mix (or mixing two or three different types of dried herbs works totally fine, e.g., mixing oregano and basil)
sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
Add some water to a saucepan and bring to a rapid boil. Place finely diced King Oyster Mushrooms into the saucepan and cook for 5 minutes. (Chop the bell peppers while cooking the mushrooms.)
Remove the cooked mushroom from heat and drain. Set aside to allow cool down.
Open a can of tuna and drain. Scoop out a big spoon of tuna (1.5 oz) into a bowl and flake it. (I used the rest of the tuna to make a simple tuna salad.)
Add the cooled mushrooms, bell peppers and minced garlic into the same bowl. Toss all the ingredients together with the seasonings. Let it sit for 15 minutes to allow all the flavor to soak in. (Now cut the cheese if necessary.)
Place a cracker cut cheese on a cracker and gently add a small spoonful marinated ingredients on top. Garnish with a cilantro leaf. Do the same for the rest of the crackers. Should we just get the party started?!
*Recipe taken from streetsmartkitchen.com
Ask around, and see which of your friends would be interested. This may end up being a bigger hit than you think! If anyone asks you where you got the idea from, you can tell them that Lisa inspired you to dig deep into your creativity for this one! I hope you all enjoy, and remember to share your night’s turnout with the rest of us! We would love to see! Happy Friday everyone!
In the world of custom cakes, the artistic expression has taken on a whole new level of creativity, making a simple dessert a beautiful work of art. There are many intricate details that could be added, from gumpaste flowers, to realistic characters, but we will start with the bones of a custom cake, which is the fondant. Most people purchase fondant ready-made in the baking section of stores, but I will share how you can make fondant from common ingredients you probably have in your pantry.
Place marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds on high; stir until mixed well. Continue microwaving 30 seconds more; stir again. Continue until melted (about 2 1/2 minutes).Click to mark this step as completed
Place 3/4 of the powdered sugar on top of the melted marshmallow mixture. Fold the sugar into marshmallow mixture. Flavoring can be added at this point if desired.Click to mark this step as completed
Place solid vegetable shortening in an easily accessed bowl so you can reach into it with fingers as you are working. Grease hands and counter GENEROUSLY to keep the mixture from sticking to your fingers; turn marshmallow mixture onto counter. Start kneading like you would dough. Continue kneading, adding additional powdered sugar, and re-greasing hands and counter so it doesn’t stick.
Tip: If the marshmallow fondant is tearing easily, it’s too dry; add water (about 1/2 tablespoon at a time) kneading until it forms a firm, smooth elastic ball that will stretch without tearing, about 8 minutes.
To color (optional): If you need to tint the entire batch, add a little icing color or food coloring to the mixture. For smaller amounts, add icing color to portions as needed.
It’s best to allow your fondant to sit, double-wrapped, overnight. Prepare for storing by coating it with a thin layer of solid vegetable shortening, then wrapping it in plastic wrap and placing it in a resealable bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible. This recipe will keep well in the refrigerator for several weeks.Click to mark this step as completed
To prevent sticking when rolling: Prepare your surface with solid vegetable shortening or a dusting pouch filled with equal parts cornstarch and powdered sugar.
Avoid lint and dirt: Fondant picks up dirt and lint easily. Be sure your hands are clean when handling and avoid wearing fuzzy sweaters during decorating.
How to Store: After decorating, store leftovers carefully. Roll into a ball or log shape, coat with a thin film of white vegetable shortening, then wrap in plastic wrap. Place wrapped fondant in an airtight container.
*Recipe taken from wilton.com
This is a cake I made a few years ago for my mother’s birthday. It was one of my first trial runs with marshmallow fondant, and it turned out pretty well. A few words of advice that I can give concerning making the fondant is that when you are at the kneading stage of the recipe, you want to have the consistency of “stale gum.” Now I know that sounds gross, but anything softer will look like its melting, or pulling off of the cake, and harder will be impossible to stretch and work with. Consistency is very important, so be sure to take your time with the process, adding small amounts of icing sugar at a time.
The other tip is if you’re planning to make your fondant a specific colour, mix your food colouring into the marshmallows right after you take it out of the microwave. That way, you don’t have to worry about the difficulty of working it in when you have the right fondant consistency. It will be a more thorough and solid colour right from the start.
Overall, it is quite the battle to make the cakes you see in pictures or on tv. However, if you start with the basics of fondant, learning how to spread it properly onto a cake, the possibilities could be endless! I started with a spark of curiosity, and ended up making cakes beyond my wildest dreams! Check out my Lisa’s Cakes page on the top of my blog page to see more of my work. You may surprise yourself when you put your skills to the test. Pull out your bag of marshmallows and give it a try today. Happy baking, and happy Thursday everyone!
Canada is a diverse country, from picturesque landscapes to towering highrises. The faces of the people are a representation of cultures from all over the world, and they dwell together in a place we all call home. Canada will be 152 years old, and even though it may be considered young country compared to others, its historical roots run deep with the distant sounds of First Nations drums, beating the tune of nature’s origin. Smoke rises, and the ashes fall, telling the tale of gains and losses, bloodshed and sacrifice, all in the name of freedom. The First People of this land will never be forgotten. Canada stands tall in its magnificence, and a life here is still portrayed as living the “Canadian Dream” to many.
Canada Day is tomorrow and we go big or go home with our celebrations! Even though we are limited on how big our parties can be, the preparations don’t have to lose their grandeur! I can almost smell the bbq simmering, and it has given me some delicious ideas! Beginning with appetizers, you can make simple look sophisticated with just a few ingredients, that will make you look like a professional chef! Here are a few recipes you can try:
Dilly Cheese Ball
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup dill pickle relish, drained
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Beat first six ingredients until smooth. Shape into a ball; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate several hours. Sprinkle with parsley; serve with crackers.
1. Thread a piece of watermelon onto a skewer, followed by a mint leaf, a chunk of feta, a basil leaf, and another piece of watermelon. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Store covered in the refrigerator for up 1 hour, if desired. Just before serving, drizzle each skewer with some pomegranate molasses; serve.
Sides can be exciting if you put your mind to it. Creating cold dishes that are fun to eat, and beautiful to look at, definitely takes the food up a notch! Let’s see what we can do with typical salads to make them a ten!
Step 1Cut the zucchini into long strands using a spiraliser, stopping when you reach the seeds. Alternatively, cut the zucchini into long ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Use a sharp knife to cut the kernels from the corn.
Step 2Combine the zucchini, corn, tomato, mint and coriander in a large bowl. Combine the chilli, lime juice, tamari, ginger and sugar in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar
Step 3Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Serve sprinkled with the cashews.
*Recipe taken from taste.com
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed in a fine-mesh colander
2 cups water
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
1 medium cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
¾ cup chopped red onion (from 1 small red onion)
1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (from 1 large bunch)
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
To cook the quinoa: Combine the rinsed quinoa and the water in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water, about 15 minutes, reducing heat as time goes on to maintain a gentle simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes, to give it time to fluff up.
In a large serving bowl, combine the chickpeas, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and parsley. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and salt. Whisk until blended, then set aside.
Once the quinoa is mostly cool, add it to the serving bowl, and drizzle the dressing on top. Toss until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Season with black pepper, to taste, and add an extra pinch of salt if necessary. For best flavor, let the salad rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
This salad keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for about 4 days. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
*Recipe taken from cookieandkate.com
Now that your food is in order, your bbq is now on its way to perfection! Don’t forget the decorations! It is an absolute must for an outdoor setting. Candles, banners, and sparklers, are just a few extras you can use to spice up the evening. If fireworks are not allowed, then hook up your outdoor projector for your fireworks enjoyment. They may not be the same, but at least a version of the real deal will be one everyone will remember as the most innovative way to celebrate! To all my Canadian readers, I hope you all have a blast tomorrow! Happy Tuesday everyone!
We are soaring into the heart of summer, the time of year we have all been waiting for to show off the curves we’ve been working on during the colder months. However, it doesn’t stop here. If you want to stay on top of the game, you have to make this summer body a year-round thing. Investing time and energy into moving that body of yours on purpose every day, is the only way you will see lasting results.
Currently, gyms are not accessible, but there are many other ways to get your body into shape. For example, I am part of an online fitness club called, “Granted Fitness,” where we get together through zoom, doing a variety of classes, from Sculpt and Tone, to Strong. If you haven’t heard of Strong classes before, you need to get on to grantedtobe.com to learn more. It will change your body and your life forever! Amanda is the fitness instructor, and she is so full of life and energy, that makes it so easy to get in front of the screen and work! The beauty of it all is that you can work out with her from anywhere in the world! All you need is a device and zoom, and you can be part of the Granted family too!
But if you are going to join us what should you wear? Funny you should ask. Today’s segment takes a peek into the world of fitness wear. For women, marrying both style and comfort is the focus. Women feel that looking and feeling sexy is key to motivation. A good workout is hard enough as it is, so you really want to look good while doing it! Colours are vibrant and keep outfits interesting, as well as criss cross and waterfall backs. Pockets keep devices handy, and zippers secure items to prevent losing valuables while on the move. Layering a sports bra with a sport shirt will give us females added support, and compression tights for both men and women, are popular because they pull everything in, and make you sweat!
Make workouts a part of your life, rather than a chore you have to complete! That way, it won’t be a problem to keep it going over a lifetime. Dress for the occasion, as you would any other that you enjoy. Life is about living it up, and your clothes will reflect your attitude. Bring your best game to the workout floor, and you will relish in the splendor of your success. Talk is cheap, but work is progress. Happy Monday everyone!
Lost in the thoughts of a woman approaching 40, I look back at my life and think about miracle of my three children, and wonder about the other side of the coin. As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing special about me. I could have easily been the woman who fights in the struggle of making a family, or one who had to consider having one alone. For those who experience this today, my heart goes out to you. Understandably, you may feel that the words fall short of comforting, but I’ve found in life, the grass is always greener on the other side.
Looking in from the outside of the situation, a few thoughts and questions come to me. For those who face the challenge of infertility, the world is neither kind or understanding. The weight of the problem becomes so heavy to bear, that it you begin to internalize it, and take the blame. When you carry this burden to a certain age, it now becomes the loss that you must make peace with and move on from. However, how do we as women live with knowing that there was something that we felt destined to do, but could not physically follow through? Living the years with the thoughts of motherhood as something to be expected for any woman, now becomes faded dream. What must we do to keep moving and living, so that our lives are not in vain?
I talk to many women who are going through infertility, and they have voiced the pain. However, they say there is light at the end of a dark tunnel, and the key to happiness is to live your life without regret or shame. This is not your fault, nor are you destined to live a life of mourning. Instead, it is an opportunity to explore the person you are blossoming into, and to discover a life that is meant for your happiness. I like the sound of that.
In all things, we must see the beauty of life. Where there is life, there is hope. Where there is hope, there is joy. Where there is joy, there is peace. Peace holds us up, and keeps us together like glue. Peace gives you rest and gives you strength for another day. Happy Saturday everyone!
The best part about summer is the outdoors! A chance to soak up the sun, or bask in the moonlight of a cool evening. What to do with all this fresh air? Have yourself an open-air Wine and Cheese Platter party, but without the big crowd of course! A few close friends and family invited to dine safely, but for a few good laughs and lots of fun. If you are not the wine and cheese expert, I found a few suggestions on what would go well on a CHARCUTERIE or CHEESE BOARD.
Gouda – the perfect pairing with Cabernet
Aged cheddar – lovely with Malbec
Manchego – try this one with a sparkly wine. Also, this is a sheep milk based cheese( great for those sensitive to cow’s milk cheeses).
Ricotta – goes well with Riesling
Parmesan – delicious with a bubbly Prosecco
Gruyere – a love fest with Chardonnay
Brie – goes well with many wines, but my favorite is Merlot
Bleu cheese – pairs well with a Pinot Noir or a sweet Port
Feta – a bright red or dry Rose, slightly sweet wine is perfect with salty feta
For vibrant colours, and a few extra flavours, you could also consider adding the following:
Sounds like a pretty swanky party, complete with great music, and delicious wine for the tasting! This is the get together that is needed to finally get summer in motion! We have been cooped up for a very long time! It’s time to gather ourselves for the best of what the season brings. Make the most out of each day, understanding that we are in different times, but also realizing that we must still live life to the fullest. Cheers! Happy Friday everyone!
In need of something delectable to satisfy your summer cravings? This basic, yet scrumptious dessert can fool even the best critics! This easy peasy Banana Caramel Cream Dessert can be enjoyed after a fabulous outdoor dinner, or as a “just because” snack. A cream parfait is an simple solution to skipping on the baking during hotter days, but still having a proper dessert to show for it. Taking a few of these babies out of the fridge, and serving them chilled in a fancy dessert dish, will impress the pants off of your loved ones for sure!
Banana Caramel Cream Dessert
Yield: 6-10 servings (see notes)
Creamy homemade pastry cream, fresh banana, caramel, whipped cream and a graham cracker crumble!
Vanilla Pastry Cream (recipe below)
Bananas (I used two bananas for 6 small dessert servings)
Good quality caramel sauce, or dulce de leche.
Fresh whipped cream (I used 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream and 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar)
Graham Cracker crumble (recipe below)
Vanilla Pastry Cream
2/3 cup sugar (can be reduced to 1/2 cup if you prefer desserts less sweet)
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 full sized crackers)
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon sugar
Make Pastry Cream –
In a medium bowl, beat eggs with a fork to combine. Set aside.
Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually pour in milk, while whisking, to make a smooth mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring almost constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils. Continue to cook and stir one minute.
Pour several tablespoons of the hot mixture into the bowl with the eggs and immediately stir well. Pour warmed egg mixture into the pan with the rest of the hot milk mixture. Return to a slow boil, and cook one minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Set aside to cool. When the pan has cooled, place in the refrigerator to fully cool. If desired, lay a piece of plastic wrap on the top surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.
Make Graham Cracker Crumble –
Crush crackers in a large ziplock type bag. Pour crumbs, sugar and melted butter into a bowl and , stir until fully combined. Pour into a 9″x13″ casserole dish and press into a even layer. Bake at 350*F for 10-12 minutes, until light brown. Allow to cool.
Assemble dessert –
Spoon about 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumble into individual serving dishes. Use a small glass to press the crumble into a firm layer (as pictured below).
Add a layer of pastry cream into each dish. For easy assembly, fill a large ziplock type bag with the pastry cream, snip off the end and fill the dishes from this bag.
Add a few slices of banana.
Top bananas with a layer of whipped cream.
Add some graham cracker crumble and a drizzle of caramel (scoop caramel or dulce de leche into a small ziplock bag and snip off the end for easy application).
Repeat layers 2-5
Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 3 hours. Top with a slice of fresh banana just before serving.
*Recipe taken from glorioustreats.com
When you’re out shopping, and you see some interesting serving dishes, never be afraid to pick up a few. These things always come in handy, as they are a major statement piece for the recipes you try at home. Serving style and presentation are key factors in taking your dessert from good to fabulous! Just consider the concept of Crème Brûlée. They are baked in the oven in cute little ramekins, and then torched on the top for a brittle caramelization effect. Exciting! One of my favourite desserts, more so for the process, but still a big fan of the taste! Get busy with your no-bake baking day, and remember to add the creativity! That is where the fun truly lies. Happy Thursday everyone!
How many times has your kids lost their keys to the house? Or you forget that zoom chat with a teacher? Maybe you are on the phone, and need a pen to take down an important message, but can’t find a pen! Where is your last T4 for the bank appointment you have tomorrow? If any of these scenarios are you, this challenge might be of interest. Making an “Organization Station” in your home might be the best thing for your life right now.
Beginning with the wall you will choose to dedicate your organizational space, is the first step in bringing your chaos into a more systematic order. This wall can be wallpapered, or even painted for added flair. Choosing to keep the wall the same colour is not boring, but keeps the home looking uniform, which isn’t a bad idea either. You could include word art and small pictures or paintings that keep the space visually appealing.
Now the greater challenge: What types of organization does your home need?
I assume most people deal with the issue of missing keys very often in their everyday lives, so key storage probably makes the list at number one. Having a hook for each member of your family might prove to be effective, so you can keep track of who has misplaced their keys, or who isn’t home. The challenge here is to make this system the only one you use to store keys. That way, you can be sure you will be able to find them everytime;)
2. Mail Storage
I don’t know about you, but this number two storage solution is essential for my household! I find that keeping junk mail in the garbage, and opening older mail in a timely manner, seems to be a difficult task to stay on top of. A warning to those who decide to go this route: Be sure to stay on top of filing important letters, and discarding others to keep the system effective. Otherwise, the folder idea just turns into a space where anything is stored, and for years at a time! If you want folders to make a difference in the way you organize your mail, there definitely needs to be order.
3. Weekly/Monthly Calendar
Keeping important dates and appointments are key to a household running effortlessly, and everyone being on the same page. Soccer tournaments, doctors appointments, and interviews can all be viewed easily on a simple calendar. Everyone’s life schedule written in one place so that each person plan around one another, or include themselves in plans. Most importantly, you would never forget important events because they stare at you before you leave the house (that’s if you sneak a peak before you go!)
4. Note Exchange
Having a blackboard/whiteboard as a center for note exchanges may prove useful for younger kids without cells, or a quick update before you become unavailable. It revives the traditional way we communicated in a home, and brings the personal charm back to the way we live.
Overall, the four items mentioned above are recommended in building your home’s Organization Station, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Buckets with pens and pencils for that quick note, or pin boards to hang recent artwork from the kids, could be a must for your home. Whatever helps to keep your home running like clockwork, you should always consider. At the end of the day, you will love how much better your family is able to stay connected, and how smoothly your home runs. Take it easy tonight, and enjoy the place you call home. Happy Wednesday everyone!