Monthly Archives: December 2016

friday favourite – unexpected gifts

A regular reader of our blog sent us each a cool Scandinavian dishcloth from a company called Jangneus.fullsizerender

I can’t wait to get the cloth wet, it looks like fun! And particularly special since it was totally unexpected. Great sketching and doodling patterns too! Thanks KL!


bake it up for the holidays

We don’t think you can ever share too many holiday baking recipes. So here’s our post from one year ago. Grab the butter, a glass of nog and get in the kitchen!


Something chocolate, something with ginger, something rich and buttery and something with fruit. That’s my rule of thumb for holiday baking!

Apricot squares fit the last category, but wait – they are also rich and buttery…oh well, it’s the holidays and I only make them once a year, or maybe twice. They are displayed on a beautiful plate made by my ceramics teacher Kristen Kieffer.

Nanaimo Bars hit the spot for chocolate and sweet. I only make these in December. I have a love/hate relationship with Nanaimo bars – I can’t wait to taste them and then I don’t want to see them again for a year! If you have ever eaten them, you will know what I mean!

Ginger cookies are a great complement to all the butter and chocolate. I like to add chopped up candied ginger to the recipe just to be sure they have a good bite!

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream together 3/4 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup molasses and 1 egg. Sift together 2 1/4 cups flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt (if you use unsalted butter), 1 Tbsp ginger, 1Tbsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp cloves.

Add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Make small balls or use a cookie scoop and then coat in granulated sugar. Bake for about 10 minutes. Cookies should be flat with a ‘crackle” top.

Happy Baking!




No matter what and where and how you celebrate over the coming holiday season…it is often a stressful, tiring, lonely, exciting and exhausting time.

Today, we just want to remind all our readers that in the middle of the craziness, to take time to pause, look around, take a deep breath. And then carry on.



friday favourite – s’well

About this time last year I raved about my new water bottle – the stainless steel Hydro Flask. While I still love it, it now has a little competition…Hydro Flask, meet S’well.


My good friend LKG gave me the S’well water bottle for my birthday. It’s similar to the Hydro Flask — stainless steel, keeps beverages hot or cold, doesn’t sweat — but it’s just a little more sophisticated! It’s as if your cool city-dwelling cousin came to visit and suddenly you feel a little shabby.

img_6466I think the Hydro Flask will be my hiking water bottle but the S’well, well it gets to be my yoga water bottle and it’s my friday favourite!


pure vanilla extract

I love vanilla. Pure vanilla extract. I use it in baking, in my granola recipe, when making oatmeal and in hot milk. There used to be a Williams and Sonoma Outlet store an hour from me and I would always stock up on vanilla when I made it there. The outlet store closed and I was back to wincing as I paid $20 for a bottle. When we were in Mexico in November I bought a few bottles of vanilla to get me through my holiday baking but was just starting to think about re-stocking. And then in my inbox was Smitten Kitchen with her recipe for making your own vanilla extract. I have never heard of this or even considered it. That same day I received a catalogue from King Arthur Flour advertising a make-your-own-vanilla kit.

With very little research I found a wealth of information about making vanilla extract. I ordered some vanilla beans from Beanilla and followed their recipe.


I sliced open 6 vanilla beans and put them in an 8oz bottle and added 1 cup of vodka. That’s it! I shook it around, wrote the date on it and now wait 6-8 weeks for my vanilla.


I will let you know how it tastes in February!


downloading library books

I knew that the library loaned iPads and DVDs and books on CDs but I hadn’t really paid attention to downloading audio books. A few weeks ago I sat down and opened my public library’s website and did some research about audio and eBooks. It wasn’t difficult and it didn’t take long for me to discover that I needed to download an app called OverDrive and then sign in with my library card.

I downloaded OverDrive and borrowed Laura Lippman’s After I’m Gone. I spent a lot of time in the car this week and thoroughly enjoyed listening to the story while driving. I kept listening on Saturday while I did errands and household chores and finally sat down to really focus on the last chapter!

As soon as it ended I logged back in and downloaded another one. The coolest thing is the books return themselves when the 14 day loan period expires!

Who knew?! What a gift. Yet another reason to support your local library.


friday favourite – the cottage

We all heard the story many times growing up that our parents spent their honeymoon installing rafters in the family cottage that was under construction at the time. Didn’t sound like the most romantic way to start a marriage, but the cottage provided lasting memories for us all.


The family cottage was sold years ago, but whenever I’m in the area, I do a drive by and imagine what it would be like to have it back in the family. I know that’s a romantic notion that could bring a host of scheduling and upkeep challenges…but a girl can dream.

The stories that are shared and remembered between the extended family never get old. The fictitious “yik yak” creatures my grandfather made up and told stories about to all the young grandchildren. The endless homemade clay bowls and ashtrays made from daring to go in the ice cold waters of Georgian Bay to collect some fresh clay to mold and dry on the boulders. And the root beer and lime rickey floats, and sugar cereal that awaited us only on vacation.


I’m glad the cottage is still standing and that I can visit it every few years to bring back a rush of great childhood memories. It’s my Friday favourite.


pumpkin and red lentil soup

I was in a cafe last week and ordered the soup of the day — pumpkin and red lentil. I was cold and hungry, the soup was warm and filling. A perfect match!


I found a recipe online for this soup, it even used a can of pumpkin which is so easy and I had one sitting around for the pumpkin pie I never made!

Here’s the recipe:

Saute 1 chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic and 1 T grated ginger in 1 T olive oil until onions are soft and translucent. Add 1-15oz can of pumpkin puree, 1 cup dry red lentils, 6 cups of vegetable broth and 1 T curry powder.

Bring to a boil then turn the heat down, put a lid on the pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper as needed.


getting organized

My husband bought me a pen for my recent birthday. Well, he didn’t buy me a pen, he said pick a pen that you would like. He understands that a pen is a very personal purchase. If you read that sentence and went huh? then you might want to stop reading right now! If on the other hand you said to yourself, oh yea, I get it! then read on!

I go through phases with pens. I had a Waterman fountain pen way back and though it was beautiful to look at and write with, it just wasn’t practical for everyday use. I have been a fan of LAMY pens for years, I own several colours of the safari pen and have given it as a gift many times.Lamy_safari_red_216_Ballpoint_pen_140mm_print_eng.png

As for my birthday pen, I ordered the LAMY Studio from Levenger and am eagerly awaiting its arrival!

But the title of this blog post is getting organized, not pens! I love pens because I still love to write with one on real paper. A regular reader of our blog asked us what we use to stay organized which prompted this blog about pens, paper and organization.

My sister, my mother and I have all owned a filofax  datebook for years. I know because I buy us all the refills every fall and hand deliver them at Thanksgiving. My mom carries hers around with her. I keep mine open on my desk and use it faithfully to keep track of appointments. And my sister schleps her back and forth to work everyday. I use my phone to record an appointment when I am out but as soon as I get home, I record it in my filofax.

And then there is Moleskin. They have an amazing assortment of notebooks. I use a 5″ x 8″ for travel and keep key details about a trip in it and carry the notebook in my carry-on. I have a tiny one I keep in the car with information about when I changed the oil or when I replaced the brakes. And I have one I carry in my handbag with any number of things I don’t want to forget…a book to look for at the library, a song I heard that would be good for my spin class, the phone number for the vet…I know I could probably keep all these things on my phone but I like writing things down. And I love the flow of a new pen on a fresh sheet of paper.

Do you organize by paper or digital?


friday favourite – Warby Parker

Warby Parker is an eyeglass store with a cool way to shop if you can’t get to one of their retail stores. (They have a store in Toronto for our Canadian readers) You select 5 frames for 5 days to try on at home and they will ship them to you free. It’s a fun way to change your look at a reasonable price for prescription glasses. Below is my latest pair and why they are my friday favourite!