Five Random Things I'm Loving Lately


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

1. Whale Prints

Oh if only I had found this print when I was working on Cooper's nursery. Hmmm, maybe in his big boy room? P.S. When does that transition happen anyways? Help, moms, help.

Five Whales Stacked - United Thread Etsy Shop
Source - Weekday Carnival
2. Coconut

Coconut coffee, coconut cookies, coconut icing, I want it all. Especially the deliciousness that I spied on Pinterest the other day.

Hi four-ingredient chocolate coconut pie. Let's be friends.

Chocolate Coconut Pie - The Marion House Book
3. My New Camera

For a long while I had been putting all the extra $$$ from photo sessions into my 'Camera Fund' so that I could upgrade my camera body from the Canon Rebel T1i to the Canon 6D. Except my crazy boyfriend (okay, husband) went and surprised me with the wickedly awesome, fancy schmancy 6D for my birthday. What a guy and what an, ummmm, expensive present. I am ridiculously spoiled. He even let me rename my camera fund to 'Cushion Fund'. ;)
My precious.
4. Cute, Quirky Movies
Is it just me or is it really hard to find movies these days that aren't scary, crude, depressing, or ultra-violent? Geez. Safety Not Guaranteed was just my cup of tea. So cute! I might have to watch it again tonight now that I think of it. While I'm folding ten baskets of clean laundry. How did that happen again? Sigh.
5. Blue and White Fabric
I was all into the greens for awhile. Now I'm all into the blues. Can I have all of these please? Please!?!
Houzz - 20 Blue and White Cottage Inspired Fabrics
Source - Mora Scandinavian Emporium
Source - Sarah Richardson Design
What are you loving lately?

The Fixer Upper - Siding is Going Up!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

It's been awhile since I shared an update on what's been happening over at The Fixer Upper. The boys have been working hard getting the building ready for new siding. When I say that lots of prep work was involved, I mean lots of prep work was involved.
One of the bigger jobs involved taking down not only the old mint-green siding, but the old wooden siding that was hidden underneath it. I stayed far away during that project because a) they were teetering on tall ladders, b) they were swinging hammers and crowbars left and right, c) they were uncovering years of built-up grime, dust, and insulation, and d) they were kind of grumpy that they had to do a, b, and c on a hot, sunny, summer day!
After all of the old debris was cleaned up and hauled to the dump (thanks to my awesome workaholic father-in-law) they were finally ready to start putting up the new siding last weekend. When I left for the cottage they had this much done:
And when I came back the next morning they had made quite a bit of progress!
Isn't it looking great so far? I'm sure the neighbours are appreciating the new view. I mean come on, they had to look at this for the longest time. :)

I promise I'll share some more pictures once the siding is installed on the whole house. It won't be for awhile though because the next few weekends are filled to the brim with fun summer-time activities. I can't make poor Alex work on renos every weekend, can I? ;)

A Really Large Canvas in the Stairwell


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Well hiya.

Awhile back I mentioned that I bought a sort of different-for-me canvas print from Homesense. I thought the silvery-grey colours would look mighty snazzy with my new Gray Owl paint. So I snatched it right up. It sat leaning along the wall in our dining room for pretty much ever until Cooper started motoring around and getting into all kinds of mischief.
We waited so long to hang it because we thought we needed some crazy contraption ladder. Finally we decided to try using just a tall ladder from the garage. And it worked! We had it hung up within a half hour. That's record time for picture hanging at our wonky un-level house.
The large picture is a perfect fit for the spot and the colours are really subtle and pretty. I'm really happy with it!
Again, my original plan was to hang an old, rickety ladder in that space but since I already have an old ladder in the breakfast room I don't want to be known as the crazy internet ladder girl.

Here is the spot before:

And here is the spot after:

Sorry about the awkward pictures. I had to jam myself against the upstairs bathroom wall to get them!

The next picture will show you how big the canvas is:

The card on the back says it's by Australian artist Sarah Brooke. I can't remember exactly how much it was but I'm pretty sure it used up a lot of my allowance if-you-know-what-I-mean.

I love when my walls aren't bare! Yay! ;)

You Ask, I Answer - Part Eight - It's Hot Out


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How on earth are you surviving this Ontario heat wave without air conditioning?! I've been a reader for years and I'm almost positive I've figured out that you live somewhere in Northern Ontario!
Let's pretend it hasn't been exactly a year since I started these question and answer posts, m'kay!?! So about a year ago we did indeed have a crazy heat wave and as luck would have it we are sitting right in the middle of another one. The temperature in my living room as I am typing this is a comfortable (um, not really) 84 degrees, 95 with the current humidity.
How are we surviving? Barely. We are melting! I will absolutely not complain since I love summer, sunshine, swimming, popsicles, and the smell of suntan lotion. However with no air conditioning, two measly fans, and a lack of air circulation in the house, it's kinda sticky. It reminds me of that time we took a trip to Mexico in August (that was insane).
Since I'm totally not complaining about the heat, I will complain about the window situation in our house thanks to the previous owners. In the front portion of our home that includes the living room, dining room, sun room, and front entry there are ten windows. Wanna take a guess at how many actually open?
Two. TWO. TWO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
I guess they tried to save money when replacing all the windows. Needless to say the air in here gets pretty stale and stifling with no cross-breeze. We can open one window at the back of the dining room and one in the corner of the sunroom. Neither of the living room windows open. Boooooo.
So yeah, it's getting hot in here (Hi Nelly).
The only thing that makes me feel better about the whole thing right now is that one of our tiny fans is adorable. It was one of those great Homesense finds. :)
P.S. I think I only have a few questions left to answer. Maybe by next summer? Heh heh heh.
P.S.S. It's 9 p.m. and Alex just zipped out to get a late-night pizza. How fun is that?!?
P.S.S.S. Dear Cute Reader, you were right. We're up in Northern Ontario. With the blueberries and black bears. ;)

Ramblings About the Kitchen


Thursday, July 11, 2013

We're on round #2 of baby proofing around here these days. Things that Cooper had no interest in are all of a sudden fascinating. Like the curtain panels (that he is trying to climb), the toilets (that he is trying to flush), and the heating grates (that he is removing and stuffing with all of his toys). One whole area of the house that is in complete disarray is the shelving on our two Ikea kitchen carts. This is how they used to look:

I pretty much had to take everything off except for the bread basket and the two file baskets. My most favourite white bowl ever (that I used as a fruit bowl) got smashed to smithereens one day when Coops was in his playpen in the kitchen.

Either he grew an inch overnight or I pushed the playpen a little too close to the carts but he was suddenly able to stand on his tippy toes and pull the bowl off the shelf onto the floor. Thankfully no-one was hurt. Well, except for the prettiest bowl ever... I cried inside while I swept up all the little broken pieces. Sniff, sniff.
I've been brainstorming some functional, pretty, and baby safe options for storage on the lower shelves. I'm thinking a wooden dough bowl for fruit and some wire baskets for dish towels? I don't mind if Cooper rolls oranges and potatoes around. It's all in good fun. What I do know is that we NEED the storage space. Especially with the sudden addition of a million fluorescent sippy cups all over the place.
Speaking of things that aren't working well in the kitchen, that linoleum flooring in the above picture has got to go. The fact that is looks filthy no matter how often you wash is it getting on my nerves. Even worse, little chunks are starting to peel and come up. I'm wondering if some peel and stick tiles in a checkerboard pattern would tide me over until we have the time and money to tackle a full-scale kitchen renovation? 
Speaking of kitchen renovations, I'm in all kinds of love with Elissa's new kitchen over at Our House. I pretty much love everything about it. Would it be weird if I admitted that I click on over to her blog to stare at her kitchen pictures every few days? Yup, I'm an envious kitchen blog stalker.

Our House - Kitchen Reveal
Sigh. Dreamy.

In other news...... I'm getting a bit of a tan (yay), Cooper all of a sudden decided that he is going to be a picky eater (nooooooooo), and I'm still working on painting the exterior side entry (I got distracted by sunshine, photo sessions, and the beach)(doh).

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake


Sunday, July 7, 2013

I made a cheesecake. It was scrumptious, but took about ten hours to make. I will be reminding myself from now on to not pick the trickiest recipe ever and start it at 9 pm the night before the baby shower that you are supposed to bring it to. Your husband might have to stay up until 3 am to put it in the fridge for you when it's done cooling.
Seriously though, this cake was heavenly. One of my girlfriends got me the Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook a few years ago and until now I was too chicken to attempt any of the recipes.
I didn't have a chance to take any pictures but luckily my aunt snapped one before a bunch of hungry ladies in dresses ate it all up.
P.S. I was one of the hungry ladies in a dress. A dress (shudder).
Junior's White Chocolate & Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

Junior's Sponge Cake Crust (see recipe below)
10 ounces frozen whole raspberries, thawed and drained well
5 tablespoons cornstarch
8 ounces white chocolate
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese (full fat), softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs
2/3 cup heavy or whipping cream
6 ounces fresh raspberries (garnish)
White chocolate curls (garnish)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter the bottom (not the sides) of a 9-inch spring form pan. Wrap the outside with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending up the sides. Make and bake the cake crust and leave it in the pan. Keep the oven on.

2. Pulse the thawed raspberries in your food processor or blender until pureed (you need 3/4 cup of puree). Stir in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and set aside. It will slightly thicken as it stands. Melt the white chocolate and set aside. White chocolate is delicate and can scorch easily. Melt in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly or microwave uncovered on high for 30 seconds. Stir with a spoon, then repeat 2-3 times until completely melted. It's important to stir because white chocolate keeps its shape so that it doesn't appear melted when it really is. Too much heat can curdle and ruin the chocolate.

3. Put one package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the remaining 4 tablespoons of cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl several times. Beat in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each one. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 cup sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the melted white chocolate, then the cream, just until completely blended. Be careful not to over mix.

4. Gently spoon the batter on top of the crust. Using a teaspoon, drop the raspberry puree in spoonfuls on top of the batter, pushing it down slightly as you go. Using a thin, pointed knife, cut through the batter a few times in a figure eight design, just until red swirls appear.

5. Place the cake in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1 inch up the sides of the spring form pan. Bake until the edges are light golden brown and top is slightly golden tan, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and let cool for 2 hours. Leave the cake in the pan, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cold, overnight.

6. Decorate the top with the fresh raspberries and chocolate curls when ready to serve.

Junior's Sponge Cake Crust (for one 9-inch cake crust)

1/3 cup sifted cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 extra large eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 drops pure lemon extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter the bottom (not the sides) of a 9-inch spring form pan. Wrap the outside with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending up the sides.

2. In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together.

3. Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high for 3 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until thick light yellow ribbons form, about 5 minutes more. Beat in extracts.

4. Sift the flour mixture over the batter and stir it in by hand, just until no more white flecks appear. now, blend in the melted butter.

5. Now, wash the mixing bowl and beaters really well (if even a little fat is left, this can cause the egg whites not to whip). Put the egg whites and cream of tartar into the bowl and beat with the mixer on high until frothy. Gradually add the remaining sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form (the whites will stand up and look glossy, not dry). Fold about one third of the whites into the batter, then the remaining whites. Don't worry if you still see a few white specks, as they'll disappear during baking.

6. Gently spread out the batter over the bottom of the pan, and bake just until set and golden (not wet or sticky) about 10-12 minutes. Touch the cake gently in the center. If it springs back, its done. Watch carefully and don't let the top brown. Leave the crust in the pan and let cool.
P.S. The top of the cheesecake got a bit darker than I would have liked. I might have to cover it halfway through next time around to see if that makes a difference.
P.S.S. Coops just emptied a container of about 200 wipes all over the living room. He was pretending to wash stuff and it was cute so I let him. He's exploring, right?
P.S.S.S. I had three photo sessions last week and three more coming up next week. With lots of other stuff going on around here I am officially swamped. My house is a complete disaster and I can't even remember when I cooked a decent supper. Ahhhhhhhh!
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