Nourished by Nature

I think I am a bit nature obsessed sometimes.  Which actually puts me in my ‘happy place’.  I would definitely consider myself an extrovert, although I didn’t always feel that way.  My memories of my ‘youngen years’ is that when my parents took us to visit friends, I always preferred to hang out with the adults.  I don’t know if I was dreaming about what it would be like to one day be one… or if I was just unimpressed uncomfortable getting to know their friend’s kids.  I preferred sometimes to just observe; and sometimes I was just bored out of my mind, but none-the-less, when I think back to those moments in time I remember feeling like the ‘odd man out’ many times.  So, it could be that I ‘matured’ into an extrovert or became conditioned into one, or innately maybe I always was one.  I look back on all of the networking events I have gone to throughout my career, and I am usually quite ecstatic to just delve in there head on, make some connections, chat with people and find a common ground, but mostly, I just plain –  find people fascinating.   I love hearing their tales.  I love learning about their lives; where they come from, where they’re going and what makes them tick.  Typically an extrovert will become energized being around people… which makes perfect sense, because I do have difficulty winding down after a social event.  But I have always craved the quiet contemplation that nature offers me.  I love being surrounded by trees, the rhythmic rustling of their leaves, and listening to the water rush over the rocks; what an interesting dance it does over time as its gentle strength smooths away the rock’s hard rough edges.  I love the peaceful tranquility my soul feels when the sun warms my face, and how the moon embraces me in the dark of night.  That is powerful.  I think what I have realized about myself is that a group dynamic gives me a temporary rush of adrenaline, which can be exhilarating (kind of like being on stage, which I enjoyed immensely before adulthood kicked in), but my mind and soul can only feel truly nourished and rejuvenated by nature. IMG_2168
Photo Challenge Number 17, taken along the bike path on the Ottawa Rideau Canal in Ottawa.
April 2016

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Lucky 13

Today’s photo challenge is number 13… which coincidentally is Mouks’ present age, but thankfully not yet his foot size!  I am not quite sure where the time has gone, but Big D and I try to savour the family time we still get to spend with our young man.  Today we toted around town on our bicycles and made our way to the bowling alley where Mouks plays in a league.  The season is over, but he’s got one final tournament, so we thought we’d get some practice games in.  It’s our usual haunt, and offers up some good old fashioned fun!

Bowling polaroid

 

Spring Sprouts

I woke up late on this sunny spring morning; quickly primped and prepped, rushed out of the house, bounded into the office, and to my surprise I was greeted with this special offering…. a little purple pot with a cute mini ‘lime basil’ sprout, kindly prepared and gifted by my young office compadre.  What a delightful treat!

Photo Challenge # 12Lime Basil polaroid

I am an avid fan of Yummly for inspiring recipes and when my little baby bud has grown into a lovely bunch, I’m gonna give this meal a whirl: Thai-Inspired Ground Turkey Stir-Fry and will report back with the verdict on it’s deliciousness!

Behind Closed Doors

There is so much beautiful scenery in Ottawa, and many stunning homes along the Rideau Canal.  On any given day, there is something to appreciate and admire.  When I was a young gal my imagination circled around fashion, house design and decorating, which I guess is where my passion for all things ‘designery’ really began.

My dad was a very talented finishing carpenter, and I remember going to the job site with him on a number of occasions, where he showed me how to install spindles, baseboards, towel racks and toilet paper holders, and it is where I practiced the ‘art of sweeping’, though I will admit, I far prefer the vacuum.  I think he showed me these things for a number of reasons; to encourage my independence, build my self-confidence and to have someone who could do the mundane tasks so he could focus on his custom creations.  I cherish those memories. They nourished my appreciation for design and for the time I was able to spend with him.  Still to this day, when I walk by a house, my imagination wanders… and I wistfully dream of what is behind that closed door.

Fittingly, with these special memories etched in my mind, today’s photo challenge #11 is of a stately front door along the canal, which I was drawn to because of it’s lovely architectural elements melding so cohesively with its surround. Sometimes, it is the smallest details that can make something special, and what we may dismiss as the insignificant moments that can create such warm memories.

Front Door

When the Cows Come Home

I was so excited to find out that the ever talented, fun and engaging Kate Green was transposing her art into delightful home decor accents, and I knew I needed to grab one of her amazing creations.  She has this innate connection with colour and brushstrokes of whimsy that match her magnetic personality.  The parcel came in the mail yesterday, when I was away from the office, and  the moment I walked in the door this morning, I plunked my butt down and feverishly tore open the envelope; with utter delight I shrieked with joy!  My Highland Cow Pillow had arrived, and I knew it was going to look smashing in my mud porch!

Many a moon ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Kate through my dear compadre, and partner-in-crime, Jelly, when I was trotting about town and running my Interior Decorating business.  We shared many a laugh and good conversation together during those days.  It wasn’t until recently that we reconnected when Jelly brought together some wonderful and talented women for a gathering of fun and chuckles; and kindly included me in the mix.  This is when I discovered that Kate had branched out from her painting and cake decorating business (yeah….  so uber talented, is she!) and was now showcasing her remarkable talents in the home decor accent arena.  (YAY for me… because my wall space was pretty much taken, so now I could add some of her colourful fun with pillows – because one can ever ever ever… have too many.)

Feel free to check out her incredible talents on the links above or through her etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/KateGreenDesign  Now, Kate… when you’re ready… I would love a bird nest shower curtain...just sayin’... 😉

Photo Challenge #5 (and counting…)

Highland Cow Pillow .jpg

Tea Time

I never used to be a coffee lover, until the Big D brought me an all sugared-up flavoured coffee one morning from the local ‘Grabba Jabba’ during a visit to Ottawa in our wooing days. (It was the 90’s, when the shop was hopping in it’s hayday, and conveniently located around the corner from his basement bachelor pad.)  I never used to like the smell of coffee actually, and then, over time, I kind of became accustomed to it and learned to appreciate the intensity of the heavy aromatic beans.  Which is more of a wake-up call than the beans themselves as I tend to drink decaf.  (Hey!  No judging….) 

When my sistah lived in England a number of years ago however, I began to appreciate the fine flavours of tea.  I used to drink it straight up, until a friend here taught me the ‘art of making a good cuppa’, which includes a generous splash of milk.  And now… that is my most favourite way to enjoy a lovely brew – a great way to start the morning or to wind down at night from a long day.

My photo challenge number #4 (let’s see how long I can keep this up – now taking bets….),  is my favourite cup kindly gifted to me from The Finn for my birthday last year. (That’s right… I’m not mentioning WHICH birthday….) 😉  But, isn’t it just so purtty!?  Perfect for a sunny spring morning, which as luck would have it, was today.

tea cup

Brunch /brənCH/

Weekends are divine, and brunch is my favourite time. I am soooo poetic! But, it’s true. I love brunch; I love planning brunch, I love prepping for brunch, I love having friends over for brunch, and I love eating brunch. And Sunday’s are my favourite day for brunch!

brunch collage

Last weekend, we had some of our amazing friends over (well, “technically”, as Mouks would say; all of our friends are amazing – seriously!) and these particular compadres we hadn’t seen in quite a while. Life gets busy, and with kids, activities, work and coordinating schedules, we seem to only ever have time for … you guessed it – BRUNCH!

I love trying out new dishes, and am thankful, that for the most part, everything just kind of magically ‘turns out’. At least in my head it does … and everyone seems to choke it all down with a polite smile and a degree of enthusiasm … so I forge ahead with delight!

depression glass bowl labeledPart of enjoying a tasty meal, is the art of setting the table. I like to putter and fuss, and believe that everything tastes even yummier, with a delightful presentation. For this particular brunch, I pulled out some of my favourite pieces. My Baba’s cherished green depression glass bowl housed a yummy fruit salad (I often speculate on how this beloved piece came into her possession), while my antique yellow and white napkins snuggly engulfed delicious bagels in a sweet little basket.

brunch table settingAnd no table setting is complete without added  height; so one of my many cake plates was layered with a coordinating red damask napkin with additional bagels gently laid on top. A secondary stand held a yummy homemade apple coffee cake, and a cute antique glass sugar pot with a lid, held some delectably delicious whipped creamcheese. I used a painted ceramic egg cup to host the capers and put it on a small rectangular glass plate with sliced red onions. To complete the look, everyone had a special ‘spreader’ at their place setting, lime rimmed crystal goblets for water, and red antique low stemmed juice glasses. I don’t segregate kids dishes from adult dishes. (I’m all about equal opportunity for breakage). Once Mouks hit the age of 3, we pretty much threw out the plastic cups and plates, and he went right to glassware and ceramic dishes. I think it makes everyone feel special, and particularly for nice occasions. In my head, I believe it instills a sense of confidence and the opportunity to act more grown up and “M” for mature. (I use this video game analogy to bribe Mouks into acting more mature, citing that he can start getting “M” rated games, when he can act like an older guy – hey! … whatever works – we gotta speak their lingo)! My mom (Bobs) did this whole dish deal for us as well … though I know I am certainly not scientific proof that it instills maturity, because I’m still a bit of a goofball AND a bull in a china shop!; but it sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?! And, in fairness to any youngen who’s eaten in Smackiland, they have not yet broken a dish or glass. Now, that’s impressive!

tulips in milk jugI did buy some lovely fresh tulips and put them in a butter coloured metal milk jug to coordinate with my vintage inspired creamy yellow dishes, meticulously placed on a faded red floral tablecloth reminiscent of a country garden. And… ahhhhhh… my ‘pre-spring’ brunch table was set!

I like to serve a menu with a variety of items everyone will enjoy. Here is a list of my latest offerings:

Bevvies:

  • Big D’s ‘Stand-Up’ Lattes. The name says it all… a load of rich, luxurious caffeine, smothered in frothy goodness, and so thick your spoon will stand up.
  • Juice d’orange.
  • San Pellagrino, with fresh lime wedges.

Cold Delights:

  • Flavourful fruit salad, consisting of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple and blueberries. Topped with maple infused whipped cream. Mmmm…. Mmmm… who doesn’t love just a little touch of maple syrup goodness?
  • Kettleman’s bagels (only THE best bagels in all of Ottawa); poppyseed, sesame and ‘everything’ selections.
  • Deli toppings: prosciutto ham (a.k.a. Moukie’s ‘special ham’), smoked salmon, with ultra thinly sliced red onions and capers.
  • Assorted cheese plate: stinky Rouy cheese, double cream Brie, and garlic Boursin, garnished with grape clusters and strawberries.
  • Whipped cream cheese. I find spreadable creamcheese, whipped with my hand blender makes it creamier for spreading with not a lot of fuss.
  • Delish berry jam.
  • Pads of butter.
  • Homemade apple coffee cake.  Stay tuned for this uber awesome recipe!

Warm Goodness:

  • M-mm-mmm maple sausages…. yummmm… sausages! Easy to throw in the oven on a cookie sheet, and voila!
  • Egg nests! Yeah… you heard me.. but these are different, there are no birds. My latest experiment…. I found a little recipe online, so gave it a whirl! Here’s the Smack-Attack version:

eggs in phyllo recipe

Please call ahead to book your Brunch reservation in Smackiland!

Now taking appointments….