June 29, 2015

cherry mint gin & tonic



i made this sweet & sour adaptation on a summer classic on a rainy, dreary, cool sunday.  while it doesn't feel very much like summer outside, there is no reason we cannot pretend inside!



cherry mint gin & tonic
serves two

[you will need]
1/3 cup preserved cherries and 1/2 cup preserve syrup (i used a jar of sour cherries i had preserved in light syrup last summer)
alternatively, you use 1 cup of water + 1 cup of fresh cherries + 1 cup sugar
2 ounce lime juice
12-16 mint leaves
2 ounce gin
tonic water
ice





[to make]
in a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cherries & syrup to a boil.  using the back of a wooden spoon, mash the cherries until all are mashed.  turn off the heat & let the cherry syrup come to room temperature.  note: if using fresh cherries, this process will take a bit longer, as the cherries will need time to break down.

once cool, strain the juice through a fine strainer or sieve, pressing down on the cherry pulp to release the juices.  this should make about 1/3 cup cherry juice.

in each large glass, combine 1 ounce lime juice with 6-8 mint leaves & half of the cherry juice.  muddle together.  add ice & gin, and top with tonic water.  garnish with lime slices.

enjoy!

June 25, 2015

strawberry picking & freezing the berries


strawberries always signify the start of summer for me.  to celebrate my good friend & i always go strawberry picking.  it's a tradition we started a few years ago & something i always look forward to doing with her.


this year we decided to mix it up a little, going to an organic farm north of the city (normally we head down to the niagara region) to organics family farm.  i don't know if it's because they are organic, or this years crop is extra good, because this years berries are amazing!


freezing strawberries is a great way to enjoy the delicious little fruits when they are out of season.  they work well in smoothies, baked goods, or thawed with a little sugar as a nice treat.  i've shared a few tips on how to freeze them.

      
[you will need]

colander
paring knife
wax paper
baking sheet
freezer bags
labels, tags &/or a sharpie marker
berries

[tips]

- look for plump berries vibrant in colour. they are ripe and will taste the best once frozen.
- wash the berries & pat dry to remove excess water.
- lay the berries flat, hull side down, on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  make sure none are touching. this will prevent them from sticking together.
- leave the berries in the freezer overnight, so that they can freeze solid.
- remove as much air from the bag as possible. this helps prevent freezer burn.
- the next day, package berries in freezer bags.  fill each bag with a measured amount (1 or 2 cup increments work well) so that measuring is done for when you need them.
- label each bag with the freezer date

happy freezing!


June 22, 2015

bedroom makeover


this room is by far the brightest in the condo, so i knew we could get away with painting some of it dark and not have the room look like a cave.  i shared our ideas for this space here.

the walls before painting had only the builder's paint on them - a chalky, matte, off-white colour.  it made the room feel really boring.


we decided to go for a bold, dark grey colour, but only paint the 2 longer walls as to not make the space too dark.  the two skinnier walls (one has the window, and the other has the closet) are painted a crisp white to contrast the dark grey.  they really pick up the natural light from the window.
   

the love how the grey really highlights the gold accents of the arrow jewelry holder & lamp, and brings out the wood tones in the headboard & vintage dresser.  

i am so happy with how the space turned out, and i'm thrilled that it's finally painted.  so long ugly builder's paint!  

June 18, 2015

canoeing



when we set out goals of the things we'd like to see/do/experience for 2015, i wanted to mix exciting things with simple (but just as fun) activities.

i really enjoy canoeing with b, so i was looking forward to going on a canoe ride with him this summer.  the cottage we rented a few weeks ago came with a canoe, so we took it out in the early afternoon & did a little bit of exploring around the lake.

June 15, 2015

living room inspiration

this room needs to act as a lot of things for our tiny home. it needs to be the library, the office, the music room, the spare bedroom, as well as a comfortable casual space where we can hang out & relax after a long day at work.

you can see the before pictures of our living room here.

the one thing i knew i wanted when we moved was a comfortable chaise couch that pulled out into a bed.  the condo is only one bedroom, so having a space that guests can sleep in is very important.


i was lucky enough to inherit a beautiful old trunk from my grandmother. she used this trunk when she moved to ontario from quebec in the forty's.  it a piece that holds a lot of sentimental value to me, something i have been in love for as long as i can remember. when my mother gave it to me, i knew it needed a place front & centre in this home.  somewhere it could be shown off.  

(image by lost in america)

the first thing you notice when you come into our home is that we love books. we have lots & lots of books!  b & i are avid readers, and having a home for all of our books is very important to us.  i really like the idea of customizable wall mounted shelves for the space.  something that can be adjusted and rearranged easily as we continue to live & grow in the space.


brick veneer would look so great along the outer walls.  this is something i've only started researching, but i'm really excited about.  it's another great way to add character to the space.

(image from vintage revivals)

and of course, no space is complete without some great lighting.  i have also been dreaming of hanging lights similar to the photo below.  something simple but dramatic without overpowering the room.

(image from idlights)

both b & myself have a lot of ideas for this space.  the room is one giant square blank canvas.  i cannot wait to put some of these ideas into actions & create a comfortable, beautiful space for us to enjoy!

June 11, 2015

homemade beer


hi there, b here. so beer could be called a bit of a hobby of mine. and what a better way to start contributing to this blog of ours than a post about beer. i love to try new beers and try to stay close to home (or where ever i am) when choosing what to drink. a few years ago d took this love of mine & made it a pretty awesome gift by buying me a homebrew starter kit.

if you are new to beer making and want to start off simple, the brooklyn brew shop (also sold at byob in toronto) has some great kits available (kits come with malted barley, hops & yeast).  the starter kits also come with most of the tools you need to brew & bottle the beer. you will need bottles & maybe an ingredient or 2 depending on the kit.


the other day i made another batch for us.  i haven't experimented a lot yet, & have been keeping my brews pretty simple.  i decided on another batch of the everyday ipa.  it is a classic ipa taste with a good hop profile, & comes in around the 6.8% mark according to the kit.


here are a few tips on brewing your own beer:
- if you go with a kit from brooklyn brew shop they have printable instructions on their website for each kit.
- you do need to set aside a good couple hours on brewing day.  there is a good amount of watching to do as you need to have a pretty stable temperature going while mashing (cooking the grains) & boiling.
- make sure to mark you calendar: there will be 3 more important dates after brewing day. [1] 3 days later, airlocking; [2] 2 weeks later, bottling [3] 4 weeks later, refrigeration and enjoying! 
- have fun while doing it. it isn't an overly complex process & is pretty awesome to drink/share with friends.
- start simple & than try more complex. i used the kits for the first couple batches, and i'm only just starting to play around with the kits. with the the last batch i made, i used the everyday ipa kit but added orange peel into the boil - the batch ended up with a nice subtle orange hint.

 
 

here are a few great resources if you'd like to learn more about brewing your own beer:
- definitely check out the brooklyn brew shop kits, they contain a majority of the equipment & offer a good starting point with instructions and ingredients.
- there are lots of websites out there about beer, whether it is taste reviews, homebrew tips, or industry changes.  craft beer.com, draft magazine, canadian beer news, craft beer time, & ontario craft brewers are a few of my favourites. 
- following your favourite breweries on social media keeps you updated on seasonal batches, new breweries opening, tips & tricks.
- a good number of shops have been popping up around the city that are dedicated to home brewing. they sell equipment as well as grains, hops & yeasts. connecting with these shops lets you chat with the experts, run ideas past them, & get helpful bits of advice.  two brew shops opening/opened in toronto are  toronto brewing and noble hop.
- untappd is a really fun app that allows you to connect with fellow beer drinkers, rate & review beers, and track beers you've tried.


leave your comments about your own homebrewing experiences & if you haven't yet, give it a try!

happy brewing & cheers!

June 08, 2015

bruce peninsula [national park]


guys, it's almost summer. and you know what that means...camping!  who doesn't love camping: the fresh air, the relaxed casual pace of the weekend, and food cooked over an open fire (why does it make something as simple as pancakes taste so darn amazing?!?).

   

  

  

only a few hours from the city, bruce peninsula surpassed my expectations.  located at the top of georgian bay at the start of the bruce trail, the park has amazing hiking trails and views of some of the bluest water's i've seen in this country.

here are few of the things we did while camping at the park:

[visitor's centre & lookout tower] the 20 metre tower located at the visitor's centre is worth the climb - it overlooks the region and georgian bay.

[hiking to the grotto] on our first day there we did our largest hike, starting on the marr lake trail to boulder beach, walked along the coast to the grotto & indian head cove, & continued along the horse lake trail back to our site.  we packed lunches, took (a lot) of photos, & had a really awesome day.

[half log dump hiking trail] this trail can be short, taking you right to the shore, or extend past to offer some amazing views of the cliffs.  hiking from halfway log dump to cave point is only 1km in distance, but is a trail full of ups & downs.  it was definitely a challenge in spots, but the amazing views were worth it.

[tobermory] this place is tiny & very touristy.  full of cafes, restaurants, & boat cruise options, it's a nice change of scenery. a great way to spend an afternoon..

[boat cruise] we did the fathom five non-stop glass bottom boat tour with blue heron cruises & had a total blast.  touring around georgian bay, it offered some incredible views of the cliffs, remote islands, the flowerpot rock & a trip over a ship that sunk in the harbour.

[watch the sunset]  a vacation tradition for us, we grabbed a bottle of wine & enjoyed the sun setting over cyprus lake.