Friday, March 21, 2014

THREE MONTHS TILL THE BIG DAY

Yesterday Spring finally arrived! Yay! Winter is over and now we can admire the blossoms blooming, the sun shining and April showers. Not that I can complain too much about the cold this Winter, but I feel for all the friends and family in Canada who had a brutal one. With the first day of Spring came my three month countdown to my wedding. Which is so crazy! It has almost been two years since James proposed and let me tell you, that time has flown by. It feels so amazing to finally be in our home and now we can focus solely on the wedding. We are almost done booking everything, but the main things are done. We have been waiting so long for June 21st, so now that it is so close it doesn't seem real. Last week I said to James that we are only three months away and it was like a light went off in his head. He couldn't believe it because we haven't had much time to think about it lately. But now we are finishing planning it and I am starting some DIY projects. I am so so excited for the wedding day and finally marrying James, but I have to say I am just as excited for all of our family and friends to come together for a week of fun in Fayence. It is going to be a week filled with amazing memories.

In case you missed it, here is Our Wedding Villa, here is My Wedding Ring, and here are some Wedding DIY Projects.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A LITTLE BITE OF FRANCE


My obsession with canelés started two years ago when I visited France for the first time with James. I was lucky enough to try his Mum's unbelievably delicious ones and I fell in love. James had been raving about them for months telling me I had to try to make them myself, as if. They truly were all he cracked them up to be and more. Crispy on the outside and soft and almost custard like on the inside. The perfect companion for a cup of Earl Grey tea or espresso.

When I returned back to Toronto I was excited to try and make them myself. I love to bake and thought it would be a piece of cake (dessert pun intended!). After very carefully following the recipe and popping them into the oven, I was sad to see they came out nothing like James' Mum's. So after a few attempts and many adjustments to the time and temperature I finally made a successful batch. I was pretty proud of myself too because James loved them (not that he is the best judge, he likes everything). I then told him to savour it because I won't be making them again for a while.

Since the first time I tasted canelé in France I have only made them a handful of times, mostly because they aren't as easy as the recipe leads on and they are also time consuming. But because they are soooo good I promised James I would make them again when we settle into our new house. So today is his lucky day! I am making him his own personal batch of canelés to enjoy when he gets home from work.

I really wanted to share it with you a) because it will be one of the best things you have ever tasted. b) if I can (after many attempts) make them, then trust me you can too. c) French desserts are the best in the World and that should be reason enough.

 
What you will need (based off of Maman Beatrice's original recipe):
2 cups of milk (I used demi-écrémé which is like skim but you can use whole too)
2 tbls of non salted butter
3/4 cups of sugar (white will do you just fine)
3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean (split and scrape seeds out)
3 eggs (make sure to buy open air, free range please)
1/4 cups of dark rum (the reason I love this recipe so much!)

You will also need the canelé molds which should be easy enough to find at any kitchen or baking store. Mine is silicon which will make your life so much easier. There are typically two sizes available, small and large, I recommend the small because the large are not as classy and don't get as crispy and delicious as the small ones.


So once you have gathered all of your ingredients it's time to begin! First things first, take a medium sized saucepan and plop it on your stove top and turn that bad boy onto a medium heat. Add all the milk, butter and the seeds of the vanilla bean as well as the whole split vanilla bean. You want to bring this mixture to a boil, but be careful the heat isn't too high, you don't want to burn it. Stir a bit to make sure everything is combined nicely. Once it's boiled remove it from the heat and leave it be for ten minutes.


In the meantime you should grab a medium sized bowl and whisk together the salt, sugar and flour. Oh and while you are whisking those give the three eggs a little beating in a separate bowl.


Once the ten minutes are up, strain the milk mixture into a medium sized bowl and get rid of the vanilla bean. Now slowly whisk those beaten eggs in, once that's mixed add it gradually to the flour mixture. Mix only until it is just combined, then whisk in the delicious rum. Strain the mixture into a bowl and break apart any clumps. Now let the batter cool down. Cover it up and chill.


Now according to many recipes online they say you have to leave the batter in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours. Yes the longer it waits, the better the taste, but Beatrice told me you can let it chill for a couple hours and it is just as fine. So whenever you are ready to cook the canelés take them out of the fridge and give it a stir. The batter separates a bit so no worries, just mix it up again. Fill the canelé molds about 2/3 of the way, be sure not to fill too much, these will rise a bit when cooking. 

If you are not using the silicon molds then you will want to spread some melted butter around them to prevent sticking. I told you silicon is easier!


Now here is the tricky part for me. You really have to keep an eye on the little guys while they are cooking to make sure they browning but not too much and not too fast. I find they go from perfect golden brown to blackish brown very quickly and this is what you don't want. So stay close to your oven and keep a watchful eye on them.

Preheat your oven to 450°F or 235°C and pop them in for 20 minutes. After 20 mins reduce heat to 400°F or 205°C and cook for another 40 minutes (sometimes less depending on your oven). If they are browning a bit fast then add a little foil tent to the top, that should help. When they are done leave them to cool for about 15 minutes, then they will be ready to be devoured in seconds! They are so good, I am eagerly waiting for them to come out of the oven now. James, I am sorry, I can't promise there will be any left when you get home.



Enjoy these little treats from France, and please leave comments below about how they turned out for you.

Bon Appétit!
xo

Saturday, March 8, 2014

FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY OF MELANIA BRESCIA

I have to admit that I spend a significant amount of time browsing through the countless photo journals on Tumblr. Some are really good and some not so. But when I found Melania Brescia's series of gorgeous, creative and unique photos I fell in love. She is just so talented and I can't get enough.
I wanted to know a little more about her so I discovered...
She is only 21, she's Spanish, and has a degree in Fine Arts Photography, so it is no wonder her work had been featured in numerous magazines and publications Worldwide. I am in awe of her photos I would love to have a few hanging on the walls of my house.










For more photos you can follow her Instagram or Flickr page.

(Photos via Tumblr.)

A LITTLE LAMP MAKEOVER

This old and tired looking lamp is from James' childhood in Tahiti. When he showed it to me the first time I wasn't thrilled he wanted to keep it,  I didn't love the colours and it doesn't really go with the rest of our decor. So I proposed the idea of giving it a little makeover and updating it a bit. To be honest James needed some convincing, but once we went to the hardware store and I picked out the spray paint and lamp shade he was on board.

What I needed for the update was:
An old and tired lamp
New medium sized lampshade in slate (I bought mine in France's version of Home Depot called Castorama for €19.95)
All purpose indoor spray paint in light rain (I got mine at Castorama for €11.95)
Rope or twine to wrap around the cord (I've had my twine for a while, but probably cost $5.00)

This seriously was the easiest DIY ever! I started by removing the old lamp shade, which actually was the hardest part of the whole process. The damn thing wouldn't unscrew off, but after a lot of force I finally removed it. Then in a somewhat ventilated basement (by that I mean the windows were open) I began to spray paint the base of the lamp. I would recommend doing this outside if you can. Then I waited a couple of hours for it to dry, and began wrapping the cord in twine. I only did this because the cord is a gross brown colour and it didn't look good with the gray. Finally I popped the new shade on and voila, a new lamp! I am really happy with the result, and I am excited to see what James thinks when he gets home from work.

Friday, March 7, 2014

MY FAVOURITE JUICE


Recently James and I bought a juicer and we are obsessed! Not only is it really fun to use, but all the juices I have made so far are delicious and super healthy. I actually feel way more energized since I started juicing about two weeks ago. I have tried a few concoctions, mixing tons of different fruits and veggies, but my favourite one is what I like to call Morning Sunshine.

What you need to make this pick-me-up juice is:
A juicer (obviously!)
2 apples
1 medium sized beet
4 oranges (peeled)
1/4 piece of lemon (unpeeled)
2 slices of ginger

Enjoy!


 Do you juice? If so what are you favourite juices you make at home? I would love more recipes!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

THE JOURNEY OF OUR KITCHEN

Well I am back baby! After weeks of anticipation our house is FINALLY done, and only two months overdue. We moved in ten days ago and it's already feeling like home. We are not even close to finishing the unpacking and have barely started decorating, but little by little I am turning this house into our cozy home. I am so so excited to finally share the 'after' photos of the house, oh and just in case you forgot what it looked like before you can check it out here and here.

I thought the first room I should show you was the kitchen because to me this had the biggest transformation. It hadn't been changed or updated in over fifty years and it needed to be completely gutted. It's now my favorite room in the house, I am so excited to cook in it, have family gatherings and dinner parties. So without further adieu here is the journey of our kitchen...


So there it is! After a lot of work it's finally exactly how we wanted it, but so much better than we imagined. I love the open air feeling and how clean and white it looks. The only downside to all the white is you can see every spot of food and dirt so I am fiendishly scrubbing and cleaning throughout the day. We still don't have enough drawer and cupboard space so we just bought a six drawer cabinet to go beside the fridge, hopefully that helps a bit. Other than that this room is complete, actually it is the only room fully complete so I am very happy.

Thank you so much for following along on this very long renovation, and check back soon for the finished photos of the living room, and much more!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

SUMMER SHOES

Last week my older sister Alex emailed me asking if I could do a post on comfortable summer shoes and I was happy to oblige. She is a nanny and professional photographer so she spends many summer days on her feet. She told me she can't resort to wearing flip flops again because they hurt too much and doesn't want to be forced to bust out her old Birkenstocks (I don't blame her!). So I searched through my favorite online shops to find what I hope are comfortable and supportive summer shoes. I am sure she is not alone in wanting happy feet so hopefully this assortment of shoes will suit you as well. 



1. Loeffler Randall Mara Cap toe Espadrille
2. Steven Cecille Cap toe Espadrille
3. TOMS Black Woven Correa Sandals
4. Tory Burch Abbe Crochet Espadrilles
5. Dolce Vita Moe Flats
6. Lacoste Marice Pink Slip on Sneakers
7. Noteworthy Treaded Flatform Sneaker
8. Charlotte Stone Joss Sandals