Aug. 31, 2009

Tropical

Now this is what I call a room with a view! 

The tail end of tropical storm Danny yesterday, combined with this blog on Desire to Inspire, make me think a tropical getaway this winter may need to be arranged. True story: Neither Greg or I have ever been on a real tropical (read: Caribbean) vacation (though Greg did travel to Hawaii as a child and I sunned on the beaches of the South of France as an undergraduate).  A week in St. Marteen or the Turks and Cacos sounds like the perfect prescription for winters like this

Aug. 29, 2009

Oil

This evening, while watching Julie and Julia at the theatre with my mom, my mind turned to food quite expectedly. Over the past year, my curiosity in food has been piqued by trying new restaurants, reading food magazines, watching food tv, improving my cooking skills, and enjoying food photography. One aspect of cooking that I've been curious about, and up until now had yet to research, is the appropriate use of the various types of cooking oils on the market. Strolling down the grocery aisle to select cooking oil can be overwhelming. 

Greg and I run an all-purpose, all-function extra virgin olive oil (evoo) household. The majority of meals we prepare begin with onion and garlic sauteing in our dutch oven. I've been curious to expand our selection of oils to increase flavour and function. I'm curious about when to use evoo versus regular olive oil, and when to choose peanut, safflower, grape seed, bran, sesame or tea oils. I'd also like to learn to use nut oils such as walnut, hazelnut, pumpkin seed and almond. My curiosity in oils is similar to my desire to take a whole course in kitchen knives and chopping techniques (I was quite impressed with Julia Child's desire to learn to chop onions quickly in the movie). 

After some brief reading, as far as I can gather, our multipurpose evoo is just that. Regular olive oil may be used in the place of evoo when larger amounts are required for a cost saving measure (think making a large stir fry to serve 20).  

More broadly, I've picked up a few tips. For example, grape seed oil may be added to evoo when sauteing to create a smokier flavour. Peanut oil is great for preparing chicken dishes and is a common ingredient in Asian recipes.  Sesame oil is a common ingredient in many Indian dishes. As for the nut oils, they're good for seasonings for salads or to dip bread in as an appetizer. Safflower seems to be a healthy choice for daily use when flavour is not required. 

Very importantly, the level of heat the oil will be exposed to has a great impact on its healthiness. For a helpful chart see here

Based on my early reading, I can see that there is a great (if subtle) mastery to selecting the most appropriate oil from amongst the large range available. I'm looking forward to learning and experimenting! Image via Jekemp

P.S. Despite not taking full advantage of it, one of the things I'll miss about Edmonton is the huge variety of inexpensive oils at the Italian Centre

Chalkboard

I am loving this DIY chalkboard table. What a fun dining table for a family! It reminds me of doodling on brown paper tablecloths with crayons at casual mom and pop restaurants and pizza joints when I was a kid. 

I'm filing this idea away with the outfits (here and here), rocker, and food mentality I'd love one day for my future children. Check out the full how-to at Design Sponge

Aug. 28, 2009

Nelson



If I had a time machine, I'd transport myself back to 1964 when a George Nelson Asterisk clock cost $14.95. Images via George Nelson

Aug. 26, 2009

Shopping

I love window shopping in stores like this one. Image via Design Sponge

Lamp

Since touching down in St. John's, I have been consumed with organizing and preparing for our lives in this new city. I'm on a timeline; Greg arrives on Sunday and I have a long to do list before collecting him at the airport. One of the challenges in our new home is that we have more space than in our Edmonton apartment. One of the things this means is that we have more lighting options to select. When considering floor lamps, I'm thinking seriously about the Overachiever from Attica

Aug. 19, 2009

Floors

I'm seriously swooning over painted white floor boards. Delightful. See more at Desire to Inspire.

Aug. 18, 2009

Fork

Greg and I own (only) four place settings of flatware (which means our dining table for six is never maximized ... unless some guests are willing to share a spoon ... which I am ashamed to admit has happened). Our flatware budget was consumed quickly last summer without achieving sufficient quantity due to our strong opinions on the matter. I'm particular on the style of flatware (weighty and free of any embellishments or design) and Greg is particular on the shape of the spoon. Combined, these preferences made it difficult to find exactly what we were looking for when we stocked our kitchen.

After scoring one box of flatware, we called it a day and didn't bother looking for a matching set (due in part to the fact that we were already over-budget). Needless to say, our desire to entertain more cannot be fulfilled until we rectify this situation. Perhaps this is why I'm thinking of designing our dining room with entertaining only a few friends in mind.


Given that I know forks are one of our needs, I was immediately drawn to this column on the history of the fork on Design Sponge. My intrigue was compounded by the fact that as a Girl Guide I undertook lessons in dining etiquette (ashamedly I haven't retained many of the lessons). Did you know forks were once seen as immoral? For more of Amy Azzarito's columns on the past and present see here. Image via Julia Rothman via Design Sponge.

Aug. 15, 2009

Pendants

In thinking about the appropriate height to hang photos and having just purchased a Nelson bubble lamp, I've now turned my mind to the appropriate height for a light fixture to hang above a dining room table. 

My research suggests somewhere between 30 and 40 inches above the table. Does anyone have any conventional wisdom to share, beyond holding up the light fixture above the table and lowering it until it looks just right? We're hoping to create an intimate dining space to host a few friends. I'm also thinking a dimmer switch is a must have. Thoughts? Image via Ninainvorm

Aug. 14, 2009

Packing

Happy Weekend! I'll be spending the next two days schlepping boxes and wrapping trinkets in bubble wrap... and I couldn't be any happier than to spend this time with Greg. When you meet the right one, you just know. Image via Our Labor of Love.

Aug. 13, 2009

Chocolate

Besides beef and Banff National Park, Alberta is famous for its Bernard Callebaut chocolate. Before moving here, work colleagues of mine extolled its virtues. I had high expectations upon settling in Edmonton, which were thankfully met.

Like my arrival in Edmonton, my departure finds me pondering chocolate. In concluding things at my current position, in typical fashion I've spent some time chatting with colleagues and saying our farewells. One such conversation led to a discussion on the perfect number of people to invite to a party. Greg and I hosted a large party last March, but now I'm thinking 8 people is just perfect.

One pitfall to a small party, as articulated by my co-worker, is that the food expectations are heightened. With eight guests, people are less likely to be satisfied with pre-made burgers on a grill, coleslaw and a slab cake. With eight guests, people are looking for a glimpse into your cooking style and prowess.

Greg and I cook simply. We eat lots of soup, tomato and cucumber salads, grilled shrimp, stir frys and pasta. We enjoy cooking together (most of the time), but our sense of adventure in the kitchen wanes when work is hectic and our plates are filled with other endeavours. I occasionally get into a mood where I want to try new recipes. I collect the new ingredients from the supermarket (hello largely unused jar of turmeric) and try my hand at whipping up a new concoction. This whim has led to citrus salmon fillets, peanut soup and coconut shrimp. Sadly, I haven't been experimenting in the kitchen for a while.

In thinking about what sorts of meals might impress, my co-worker mentioned a chocolate party that she'd been invited to not long ago. I immediately thought chocolate fondue, brownies, creme de cacau; an adult take on a dessert party. However, my initial assumption was mistaken. Her friend's party included four proper courses that each included chocolate; think replacing chocolate fondue with chicken mole. Doesn't it sound like fun? I am getting excited at the prospect of mirroring this dinner party.

All this thinking about chocolate is making me want to watch Chocolat again. Image of upscale s'mores via Ulterior Epicure.

Aug. 12, 2009

Saucer

I am excited to announce that Greg and I have snagged an on-sale, floor-model (note that means a double discount) George Nelson Bubble Saucer Lamp Fixture! To add further bliss to the situation, we made our purchase from the Canadian store, Light Form; I enjoy purchasing from within my own country when possible.

I highly recommend Light Form for its friendly, prompt and convenient service. For those of you not in Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto or Seattle (their locations), Light Form's showroom is largely available for purchase online. Image via Kuantanboy.

Gallery

I confess; I love the starkness of a modern art gallery. The white walls and concrete floors allow the artwork to take centre stage. I have many fond memories from stark galleries - wandering through The Rooms in my hometown, seeking reprieve from the frosty temperatures of Saskatoon during our Valentine's Day vacation at the Mendel Gallery, and pondering Matisse's Snail with some girlfriends at Tate Modern.

Our new home will have stark white walls and dark wood floors... and I couldn't be happier about it. In pondering where to place each piece of artwork that we've amassed, I came across this great tip from Apartment Therapy -- hang each piece of art at 57" on centre (meaning that the middle of the picture is 57" from the floor). Galleries and museums often hang art at 57" on centre because this is the average human eye height. For more art hanging tips, see here. Image via Steve Greaves.

Aug. 10, 2009

Baskets

One of the changes in our lives as a result of the move will be better access to green outdoor space. The only space to enjoy outside in our current living arrangement is a massive concrete balcony that is serenaded almost hourly by the helicopter landing pad on the next block. It isn't the most pleasant place to relax with a mojito. In fact, I don't think Greg's stepped on our concrete balcony in months (unless you count sticking his head out the screen door and making squawking noises to shoo away pigeons).

I attempted balcony gardening this summer with poor results due to our high altitude and its limited sun coverage. Hostas are our patio's best friend. Our efforts were not helped by the fact that we took two weeks vacation through British Columbia and a number of other mini holidays, which meant zero watering time on a couple of different occasions. Here's to being happy that it rained quite a bit in Edmonton during our summer holidays!

In St. John's we will not be living in a north facing apartment on the 22nd floor of a high rise (due in part to the fact that I don't think there are any 22 storey apartment buildings in the entire city). As a result, I've been preoccupied with thinking about window boxes and hanging baskets to dress up our new outdoor living space. Here are some of the flickr finds that I'm drawing inspiration from in making plans for our new adventure in St. John's.



I'm inclined to purchase ready potted baskets from a local farm and greenhouse, but would love to learn to make thick, hanging baskets in the future.

Aug. 9, 2009

Den

Isn't this den perfect for snoozing mid-afternoon, cuddling a loved one or devouring a juicy novel? I love the idea of having a cozy casual room to enjoy these daily delights. Image via Design Sponge.  

Aug. 8, 2009

Compliment

Given our move east, the leasing office at our building is currently showing our apartment to potential tenants. Every day for the past few days young couples have stopped by to take a peak. They've caught me in my pyjamas and a towel, but thankfully today I was wearing shorts, sipping juice and watching Slice.

This afternoon's viewers loved our furniture and home accessories. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about decor, their simple comments put a smile on my up-until-then-melancholy face; hanging out solo in Edmonton for the weekend isn't too much fun. The above snap of our place is obviously unstaged, but the place looks even more haphazard today with unassembled furniture boxes everywhere. Oh the joys of moving cross country on a few weeks notice.

Aug. 7, 2009

Closet

White walls may make some realtors cringe, but I adore them. In scanning Apartment Therapy this evening, I'm inspired to paint my own closet out in a bright colour to pop against the white walls. Isn't it a great idea? I'm now wondering what colour would best complement my black and striped wardrobe... I'm leaning toward chartreuse

Dolls

I've been enjoying Alexander Girard's wooden dolls for a while.
 
But now I'm also enjoying these (much) more budget friend kokeshi dolls from Century Finds

Aug. 6, 2009

Coupland

Have you ever looked for tangible ways to keep someone close when you're missing them? Greg's currently off on a mini holiday to attend a friend's wedding in New Hampshire, and the apartment's super quiet without him around.  While wedding festivities are unfolding and Greg and Kanti (the groom) are recalling their days at Acadia, I snatched one of Greg's novels off our bookshelf to get a glimpse into his 'pleasure' reading preferences. 

To elaborate, at any given time I might be found reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food (more about that in a later post) or Sophie Kinsella's Can You Keep a Secret or Pat Foran's (of CTV fame!) The Smart Canadian's Guide to Saving Money (which may or may have not been a Valentine's Day present from Sir Gregory). I might also fall asleep while catching up on the latest issue of Real Simple or Canadian House and Home

While I'm following whim and avoiding any bedtime reads that cover the politics, administration and governance that occupies my workday, Greg's spending the last minutes of his day reading the likes of Carl Schmitt's Constitutional Theory and Franz L. Neumann and Otto Kirchheimer's The Rule of Law Under Siege (seriously, these are the books stacked on the floor next to his side of the bed). While I do understand that the many years of a PhD leaves one accustomed to filling their spare time with the consumption of such texts, I'm intrigued (and puzzledthat after editing and directing research all day long on constitutional matters, Greg doesn't long for the escape and reprieve that comes from indulging in something completely different. 

Though I'm not about to excitedly turn the pages of Susan Delacourt's United We Fall: In Search of a New Canada (the book Greg has a bookmark stuck in on our desk) before turning off the bedside lamp, I am quite enjoying Greg's copy of Douglas Coupland's The Gum Thief. In fact, I'm adding JPod to my next must read book; I'm not quite sure how I've missed Coupland until this point. I'm impressed that this is the novel Greg turns to when he finally longs for fiction... even if it was a present from his mother.  

If you're curious about the novel, view Coupland's video here

Chair








I am happy to know I'm not the only one with a serious chair fetish. Who wouldn't furniture swoon over these delights? 

Aug. 5, 2009

Playground

Our playground, the flat prairie of Western Canada, is soon to be swapped for the hilly, rugged and wind-swept landscape of Newfoundland and Labrador. After a year in Edmonton together, Greg and I are heading east to new opportunity and adventure in St. John's.  More details to follow in the coming weeks!

Aug. 3, 2009

Cuckoo

Recently, Greg and I added a colourful clock to our office area. After finally installing a battery in the piece, we've really come to enjoy the tick tock at the back of our living room. I also love that the clock combines beauty and function

In considering expanding our clock collection, I came across this Diamantini & Domeniconi cuckoo clock. Isn't it fabulous? Although the stripes are vertical, I love the resin, the colour combination and the modern interpretation. I'll certainly be adding it to my list of dream items. Clock found via Apartment Therapy

Aug. 1, 2009

Secret

Over dinner last night, Greg and I came to agree that Jerry Maguire, the movie not the man, got it right. When you truly love someone, you love them for the person they want to be and the person they almost are. Image via Le Love