Monthly Archives: August 2016

new ways to letter

We both might just be a little bit hooked on online sketchbook courses. We just started a 30-day class that focuses more on making cool lettering to go with our sketches.

I think we both have pretty interesting handwriting, but this course by Andrea Joseph is giving us a ton of new ways to play with how our letters and writing appears, and ultimately adds to our sketchbooks.

After week one of four, here’s some of what we’ve practiced so far.



friday favourite – speed river bicycle

So my mountain bike was pretty hot shit when I bought it, ahhh, 20+ years ago. Or so I thought. I paid a good price from a local bike shop and while I don’t ride a lot, it always had a nice warm home on my front porch (to give the illusion that I hopped on it every morning to ride to work) or tucked away in my new backyard shed.


My trainer has been encouraging me to pull it out of storage and get back on. I did a few weeks ago. Loved it. And then the front shifter wouldn’t let me get out of low gear – I thanked it for not sticking in high gear.

I rode it to the local bike shop, feeling a little sheepish at its age among all the shiny new things. They politely said it would need the full tune up.

I just picked it up and rode home in smooth style. For $85 and a smile, my old bike is all tuned up. The sales guy even added “it’s a good bike.”


I especially loved the line on the receipt that said to give it a “clean up and make nice” which is probably mostly what it needed.


Thanks Speed River Bicycle.


fruit crisp

Fruit crisp is one of those desserts that is pretty easy to make and always seems to be a hit. It is adaptable to a wide variety of fruit and the leftovers make a great breakfast!

I have made various crisp toppings that called for oatmeal or granola, but the one that I keep returning to is from The Best Recipe by the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. My edition is from 1999, though a newer version exists from 2004,  The New Best Recipes .

I made two crisps last week with blueberries and a few over ripe plums thrown in.


To prepare the filling, mix about 2 1/2 – 3 lbs of fruit with about 1/4 cup sugar, some lemon juice and cinnamon.

To prepare the topping, pulse in a food processor: 6 tablespoons flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar and some cinnamon and nutmeg. Add 5 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut in 1/2″ pieces. Pulse about 10x. Add 3/4 cup coarsely chopped nuts (I have used walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, or a combination of all of them) Pulse 4-5x.

Put the fruit mixture in an 8″ square pan or 9″ deep dish pie plate (or anything that looks like it will fit and can be put in the oven) and cover with the topping. Bake at 375F for about 35-40 minutes until the topping is nicely browned. Enjoy!


cold brew

When my millennial kids started talking about cold brew, I figured I better find out what all the buzz was about. I wasn’t sure if it had been around for awhile and I hadn’t noticed it. Or it really was just exploding in popularity and my head had been in the french press sand! I think the truth lies somewhere in between. The most informative article about cold brew came from Food52 where I learned that:

Cold-brewed coffee is like iced coffee’s cooler sibling. They’re made of the same stuff, but one’s a little more “in”—and one’s well-known and loved, but a bit passé. Dare we say it: Cold brew is the summer beverage…”  I was feeling pretty on-the-ball until I noticed the date on the article was July 8th, 2015. So I am about a year late to the game…whatever.

Cold brew is made with cold water and is never heated. The result is coffee with a lower acidity level which creates a smoother cup of coffee that’s mellow on sensitive stomachs.

Several millennial’s were going to be around one weekend so I decided to make some cold brew and join the hip crowd. I followed Food52’s recipe and ground 3/4 cup of beans and put them in my 32 oz french press. I filled the pot with cold tap water, stirred it around, covered it with a plate and left it on the counter overnight. After 12 hours, I plunged the press and poured it through a strainer into a mason jar and put it in the fridge.

The result was a hit. Smooth, strong, cold coffee that can be diluted as much or as little as you like. It is very simple but you have to remember to make it the night before…when you are preparing your overnight oats!



friday favourite – instagram

I know. Instagram certainly isn’t new, it’s been around for nearly six years. But it is new to me. My techie sis was on it waaaay before me.

There’s something very appealing about the eye candy that is posted there. Sketching ideas, amazing travel photography, nature and of course, food and pets. It’s such a nice reprieve from the drama on FB and Twitter feeds I have to follow for work.

Here are a few of our Friday favourites on Instagram – Liz Steel Art and Punkodelish.



It’s August and tomatoes are plentiful. Perfect time for gazpacho. I usually just throw things in the blender when I make this delicious cold soup but decided to look up some recipes for our readers!

I started with Ina Garten’s gazpacho but was surprised by the quantity of olive oil and vinegar (1/2 cup each) so I moved on to the NYTimes recipe. This recipe had no peppers, less vinegar but just as much olive oil — and you strain it at the end. I had never done that but tried it with this batch. I also included the gazpacho recipe from Epicurious which is a reasonable hybrid of Ina Garten and the NYTimes.

The bottom line is you really can’t go wrong! Throw some ripe tomatoes in a blender, add some cucumbers and maybe peppers, garlic, salt, oil, vinegar and some tomato juice. Blend until smooth, season to taste, chill several hours. You can top it with sour cream or croutons or fresh herbs. Perfect for an August lunch.



long summer weekends

For some of us, today is a vacation day. The third of the anticipated long weekends through the summer – depending on where you live.


In Canada we have May 24th, July 1st and Labour Day. And most of us also get the first Monday in August off. Known loosely at Civic Holiday, it is named in many cities for founding politicians or significant citizens.

Whatever you call it, it’s nice to have another long weekend in the summer.

Happy John Galt Day.