Monthly Archives: November 2015

watch me

My first watch was a Timex. It had a rectangular face and blue faux leather straps. I thought I was pretty cool in grade school.

My first job after high school, before I started university, had a clear, defined purpose. I wanted to save up enough money to buy my first swanky, adult watch. It was $200 and I shoveled poultry poop at a university lab for months so I could invest in, what I thought, was a pretty handsome status symbol on my wrist.

That was probably the start of my little obsession with time pieces.

When I travel, it is often watches that I seek out. I have a red leather Mondaine that I bought in Geneva. A Raymond Weil gift for my 50th. And two cool Swatch watches from a little shop in Santa Margherita where the staff only spoke Italian…there was lots of pointing and smiling.

I was at a conference recently, and Jason Dorsey made a presentation about the differences between the generations, in the workplace. It’s a hot topic as there are now more generations working in one place than ever before. And apparently, we’re different! He was kidding the audience about some of the differences between baby boomers and millenials. Apparently, millenials never wear watches.More cool time pieces for the rest of us.

CJR

friday favourite – gin glorious gin

I love the book, the bottle collection and making the perfect blend of gin to tonic (lots of ice, rub lime around the glass rim, squeeze lots of fresh juice on the ice, add 1.5 oz of gin and 3 oz of tonic. Guzzle or sip. Gin goodness.

CJR

breakfast muffins

I think I have made this recipe at least 100 times…I give them to friends, I make them for overnight guests to take on the road, and I keep them in the freezer for grab and go breakfast. The recipe comes from The New Lighthearted Cookbook by Anne Lindsay, an excellent resource for heart healthy cooking and just all round good food.

Here is my slightly adapted version of the recipe for

Oat Bran Banana-Raisin Muffins.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C

In a bowl, combine 1 egg, 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup canola oil, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup mashed ripe bananas and 1 tsp vanilla.

In another bowl, mix together 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 cup oat or wheat bran, 2 Tbsp of ground flax seed and 1 tsp cinnamon.

Mix the dry and wet ingredients, just until combined.

Add 1 cup raisins (I like to substitute 1 cup frozen blueberries instead)

Spoon into 12 nonstick muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

HAR

clay

My fascination with clay began in Georgian Bay. Our grandparents had a cottage near Owen Sound and we spent our family summer vacations there.

The water is clear, deep and very cold, so we found other things to do besides swim to occupy ourselves. Besides being rocky, there was plenty of naturally occurring clay in the water. You can see where this is going, right? I started playing with clay. Our Grandpa was a very good sport and claimed to love the ashtrays we made him! They were crude pinch pots adorned with small rocks and left to dry in the sun. He would rest his pipe in the ashtray and when it broke, which they inevitably did, there were several more waiting in the wings.

That was many years ago but I have dabbled in clay all my life. As my sister mentioned in an earlier post, pottery seems to be in our DNA. I have graduated from those early pinch pots to wheel thrown mugs and bowls that last a little longer than Grandpa’s ashtrays!

HAR

granola

It is a sunny but cool November day, a perfect day to make granola.

This is my go-to gift for the holidays, but this batch is just for us!

The original recipe came from epicurious but I have adapted it to suit my taste.

Here is my version – enjoy!

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large roasting pan, mix 1/2 cup of melted butter (or canola oil or coconut oil) with 1/2 cup maple syrup.

Add 6 cups of old fashioned oats,

1 cup of whole pecans,

1 cup unsweetened coconut,

1/4 cup ground flaxseeds,

1 tablespoon cinnamon and

1 teaspoon vanilla.

Mix well.

Bake for 30-50 minutes, stirring frequently. When done baking, add 1 cup of dried blueberries (or cranberries or apricots). Let cool completely before storing in a container.

HAR

k1 p2

Grandma taught all the girls in the family to knit. One of our brothers also learned – but from an ingenious grade-school teacher in the 1970s.

Grandma was a knitting machine. She knit fast. She walked fast. No flies on her.

I started on scarves. Did a few Barbie doll sleeping bags. And even tackled a fair isle sweater for a high school beau. When my inexperience carrying a second colour meant he couldn’t fit it over his head…Grandma fixed it (I have no idea how) in a heartbeat.

The knitting DNA kicked in somewhere in my 30s. Grandma was gone and we had to figure out how to turn a heel on a sock, and knit together a sweater.

This season’s project involves delicious Brooklyn Tweed. Grandma would never have paid this much for yarn. But I think she’d approve of my technique.

CJR

two-minute travel

I love to plan trips. The anticipation gets the vacation started for me months before the actual departure date.

I have my go-to sources to check out a new city ahead of time.

Friends often ask me for ideas on destinations they’re headed to. Even if it’s a place I’ve never been to, I have a two-minute travel planning process to get the ball rolling. Just the other day my colleague asked me for recommendations for Stockholm. I have never been but in two minutes, I had three links to share with her.

Start with the NY Times feature, 36 Hours in….I inserted Stockholm. It is a great place to start.

Then I head to Travel & Leisure or Conde Nast and type in the city. In this case, I found an article on new bakeries in Stockholm which totally appealed to my colleague!

Most cities have a walking tour so I find a few online and read the reviews to see if it sounds worth it. I have done tours in Oxford, Washington DC, Portland OR & Chicago and really enjoyed the perspective. Another option is to download a podcast for a self-guided tour.

And all that takes me about two minutes and gives me a great place to start, plenty to read, and lots to anticipate!

HAR

fitbit friend or foe

It started with the Fitbit I bought our son for his birthday to help motivate him to get up from his desk at work and move during the day.

Next I suggested my husband might benefit from the wrist pedometer telling him how many daily steps he had taken and calculating how much sleep he had each night. I thought the Fitbit could give him cold, hard data about how little sleep he gets and deliver it in a better way than I do!

Before I knew it, just about everyone in our extended family had a Fitbit and we were all fitbit friends, meaning we could see how many steps everyone had taken and have a friendly competition.

The goal is 10,000 steps per day and some days that is easier to achieve than others. In my first week wearing the Fitbit, I looked at my wrist one evening and realized I was only at 9,000 steps so I became super-helpful-wife and offered to run around getting things for my husband to increase my steps. When he figured out what I was doing, he became super-helpful-husband and we practically tripped over each other trying to get more steps!

Eventually we settled into walking the dog together at the end of the day. That way we both get the steps, the dog gets exercise and we can catch up about our day. One night we were holding hands while walking until we realized that if we weren’t moving our wrists – the Fitbit wouldn’t track our steps! That was the end of hand holding.

I’ve been wearing the Fitbit for several months now and I like the awareness it provides me. It helps give me that extra push to walk the dog a second time or to run up stairs because I want the activity.

I am definitely a fitbit fan…

and so is our dog!

HAR

simmering soups

I love when it gets cool enough for sweaters, socks, scarves…and soup. Here are a few that we’re whipping together these days.

Martha Stewart’s lentil soup is a new favourite of mine. And I would never have crossed the street for lentils, until this recipe. Must be the bacon (nastier than ever if you believe the WHO, but still delicious). I often just use a can of cooked lentils to save time, with no compromise on the flavour.

Squash, curry and apples in any combination make a great harvest soup. I often bake acorn squash first, then saute onions, chunks of apple and curry. Then add in chicken stock and the baked squash – simmer for a while then blend altogether with a mixer. And adjust seasoning.

This Epicurious mushroom barley soup is one of my sister’s favourites. It’s easy, hearty and the little hint of sherry makes a big difference.

And we both regularly roast whatever veggies are in the frig, in a little olive oil and any season you like. And after the first feed in roasted form, we simmer the leftovers in stock til everything is softened up and melded together. Then puree and tweak the seasoning. I often add a little cream and my staple seasoning (see last line). The flavour is never the same, but always delicious.

Whatever soup I’m making, some combination of white wine, lemon juice and feta topping finds its way into every pot and serving.

CJR