“Romance is the icing but love is the cake.”- Julia Child

A short few months ago one of the very sweetest people and her equally sweet Irish bloke got married. It was a wonderful celebration filled with so many special moments and just as many lovely details. The night was full of dancing, great food, memorable speeches and it ended with the beautiful bride and her handsome groom singing the night away at the pub up the street (in true Irish fashion). The weather was perfect for the outdoor ceremony and it all went off without a hitch. It was in short, an incredible day.

There was however, almost a small, teensy-tiny hitch. I was in charge of the wedding cake. She had asked me months prior to her big day and after a discussion on what exactly she was hoping for we had settled on a rustic, naked style cake. I had no idea what I was in for, never baking a cake of any real magnitude before, but I figured no matter what it would all work out in the end. After a trial run of a couple different recipes for the cake/icing and a mock up of what it would potentially look like (with help and encouragement from my dear, patient, friend Heather) a recipe and plan was settled upon.

The day before the wedding, the cakes were baked- A white almond wedding cake that was enhanced by both vanilla and almond extract-four nine inch rounds. They were wrapped in four layers of good quality plastic film and frozen (as per Deb P from Smitten Kitchens suggestion- freezing keeps it fresh AND makes a cake much, much easier to frost). Lemon curd was made, as was a lemon glaze to keep the layers moist. The next day the layers were removed from the freezer and levelled with a sharp knife. As they started to thaw I whipped up a swiss meringue butter cream (found here) and slowly assembled the cake. It went cake, glaze, buttercream, lemon curd and repeat; resulting in the tallest and most tasty sandwich I ever saw. I ensured that some butter cream was spilling over the sides and I used a large, metal icing spatula to scrape the rough frosting around the cake as the cake stand was turned by my sister- resulting in a perfectly rustic and “naked’ cake. It was beautiful and all that it needed was some fresh flowers to finish it off.

I am sure by now you are all wondering where exactly the teensy -tiny hitch comes into play? Well that occurred on route to the wedding. The cake had been in the fridge wrapped up prior to the commute. It was about 32 degrees out with not a breath of a breeze. We ended up stuck behind an accident and despite the air conditioning on high, the cake got softer and softer (thank goodness I chose a meringue based butter-cream, they hold up better and can sit out for hours with no change in consistency). Halifax my dear friends, is a very, very, hilly city. With the cake plate secured between my knees and the cake itself firmly grasped between my hands, we turned onto the biggest and steepest hill that the city has to offer and half of the cake- the part secured with my hands promptly slid, almost directly off of the other half and well off of the cake plate. It was like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I hastily slid it back into place and ran with it into the reception room. Three minutes before the wedding was to begin I was preforming life-saving surgery on the cake with just a butter knife and sheer will. It survived without full CPR and I made it to my seat just barely before Kailee started her decent down the isle.

During cocktail hour my friend Heather and I went to assess the situation and to apply the decorative flowers. The cake looked great and we celebrated with a glass (well maybe two) of Prosecco. Find incredible pictures of the cake and the beautiful couple taken by the ever talented Chelle Wooten, wedding photographer extraordinaire (find her here) below. Thanks Kailee and Pearse for letting me be part of your wonderful day!

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“Experience is simply the name we give our barbecue mistakes..”-Oscar Wilde

The ever intimidating barbecue. I have wagered a few bets and said a few prayers while trying to work my magic on the grill. I have a tendency to over cook meat and it has taken me years to master grilling a perfectly rare steak but my burgers consistently resemble hockey pucks. There was also an isolated incident where my BBQ may have ended up on fire while cooking ribs. I suppose Oscar Wilde would call me “experienced” in the barbecue sense.

With summer rolling to a soft end, the nights are a little cooler, the humidity is breaking and it is officially my favourite part of summer. Those two weeks where August and September kiss leaving us with the warmest ocean waters, cricket serenades well into the evening and some of the very best sunsets. Traditional BBQ fare is also on sale, or at least the prices come down significantly compared to the high points of summer. That is why I bought a rack of back ribs AND a rack of side ribs last week. I was inspired and apparently I had some extra confidence while strolling through the supermarket.

When I got home I bunkered down and did some research. I was not going to set my bbq on fire again and I wanted them to be fall-off-the-bone, finger-licking-good. Like I said, my bbq confidence was high. What I learned about ribs is that it is better to cook them (par boil or low heat) prior to placing them on the grill. They will be much more tender. I also learned that a dry rub seems to be what most people recommend and it is a traditional southern style of cooking ribs. Deb from Smitten Kitchen swears by it and if it is good enough for Deb, it is good enough for me!

In the end I wound up combining a few recipes based upon what I had in my pantry. They were cooked on low, blanketed in a dry rub, wrapped in foil and then finished on the BBQ with a mop made of my favourite barbecue sauce and the drippings from the foil. I would be doing you all a disservice if I didn’t tell you that these were hands down, the very best ribs I have ever had. They were so good I forgot to take pictures. They were in fact so delicious, that I took some across the fence to my neighbour who promptly took a bite and asked for the recipe. The next time I see a rack of ribs on sale I won’t hesitate and I will no longer have flash backs of my BBQ on fire.

Happy grilling all!

-m

The Best *EVER* BBQ Ribs

Note:

-When I made this recipe I used both a rack  of side ribs and a rack of back ribs. Both were equally delicious so no need to stand in the meat fridges having a moral grapple over which to buy. Buy whatever is cheaper!

-I used two racks of ribs, which were probably 2.5 pounds each. There was enough dry rub to do four of said sized racks. I had lots left over and I ended up using it on my sweet potatoes prior to roasting them(which was a brilliant and delicious idea!).

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees and lay each rack on a hefty piece of tinfoil (enough package ribs in a double layer).  Let them come to room temp if you have time, if not well that is ok too!

In a bowl combine the following…

  • 2 Tbs garlic powder
  • 2 Tbs onion powder
  • 2 Tbs chili powder
  • 2 Tbs smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbs cumin
  • 2 Tbs of brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs black pepper
  • 1 Tbs sea salt
  • 1 Tbs dry mustard
  • 1 Tbs cayenne (optional*)

Once combined, pat a good, fairly thick layer of the dry rub on BOTH sides of the ribs (I am not talking about a sprinkle!) and wrap the ribs in tinfoil. Place in pre-heated oven and cook for 2 hrs. Once two hours is up, drain juices out of tinfoil and combine with 1 cup of your fav BBQ sauce (this will make the most delicious mop for your ribs!). Finish on the BBQ not on too high of heat as you will risk burning them. Mop and turn several times with the sauce until they are done. Serve them to someone you want to impress and enjoy!

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Be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons.-unknown 

Today is my birthday. Being my birthday I am allowed to indulge myself in things that I like, no matter how “kitschy” or tacky they are right? Too much pink? No such thing. Pink flamingos ? Sure why not. Cake for lunch? A healthy, well rounded choice. Glittery nails that I will need to remove with a palm-sander?  100% worth it. 

Honestly, I have really been feeling the flamingos as of late. I have always had a love for them, especially the tack-tastic, pink plastic lawn variety. I  keep willing the world to have some magically appear when I am thrifting, just to give me an excuse to indulge my kitschy side in a big way. I own a powder pink silk dress covered in flamingos that I like to admire about once a week. It is fabulous, a touch silly and doesn’t take itself too seriously which I love whole heartedly. My makeup bags mimic the same…

This week I was at the dollar store and I stumbled across the cutest little wire flamingos for flower pots. I didn’t hesitate and I scooped up the only ones they had. I also picked up some bright pink plastic buckets because I couldn’t turn them down for a dollar. My timing was impeccable because Kent had fall mums on for five dollars plus buy one get one half off. Amazing except they came in ugly black buckets which just so happened to nestle perfectly in the pink ones I had just bought on a whim!

At this point I must admit my front steps were looking sharp with the pink buckets, mums and tiny flamingos. I honestly didn’t think it could get much better until I was gifted an antique chair that was destined for the dump. I gave it a quick sand with a palm sander and sprayed it with a clear protective coat. This took all of five minutes and now it is acting as a flower pot holder and come October it will be the perfect pumpkin perch. For twenty dollars my little step was elevated to the perfect kitschy entryway. Is it a little too much pink and maybe a little loud ? Sure… But why not be a flamingo in a sea of pigeons right ?

-m

“Life expectancy would grow leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”-Doug Larson

We have all done it. We are all guilty of buying (or growing) an abundance of leafy greens. So much in fact that they probably begin to wilt before you even start to make a dent in them. You are sneaking spinach into pasta sauce, making smoothies and eating so many salads that your skin begins to have a fresh, green glow when you are in direct sunlight. You may have even googled “How to bake a cake with kale”. We have all been there.

This week I did the exact same thing. I bought the biggest possible container of arugula for a mere $2.99 at Costco. At that price they are basically paying you to take it, it costs more to grow it in your own garden. We had it on pizza with company (if you have never had fresh arugula on pizza, you have never lived), I had it on chicken tacos, I ate salad after salad and still I had 3/4 of the container left. It was beginning to wilt mid week, right about the time that I had my absolute fill of delicious, peppery arugula and I decided something had to be done that didn’t involve my composting bin.

I made arugula pesto. We all know basil pesto is the bomb. It is easy to make, stores well and is delicious on pasta, pizza, burgers, eggs, cheese boards and basically anything savory you can think of. I have made it dozens of times with basil from the market or the garden but you need a lot of it, and it can be pricey. Arugula is not pricey, has a wonderful peppery flavor and it can do exactly what basil pesto can do but with an extra summery kick. Tonight I am putting my arugula pesto on portobello mushroom burgers and it is going to be divine. Find recipe and photos below! Happy saving your greens everyone!

-m

Fresh Arugula Pesto!

You will need….

  • 2 packed cups of fresh arugula (it can be a little wilted, we don’t discriminate!)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (your call!)
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • Pinch of sea-salt
  • 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts. I used 1/8 cup of pine nuts and 1/8 cup of toasted slivered almonds because that is what I had! Toast them at 350 for about 5 minutes on a baking sheet watching closely as to not over toast them. They should just get golden brown.
  • 1/2 cup of fresh Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

This is the best part. Toss all of the above in your food processor or blender minus the oil and blend for less than a minute until it is finely chopped but not ground to a pulp. Turn the processor back on and slowly drizzle the olive oil in. Now scrape the sides and do a little taste test. Add more lemon, salt or garlic as needed! Blend once more for a short period of time and tahhh-dahhh you are done. It keeps for weeks in the fridge in an air tight container. The oil may rise to the top but that is OK! Just let the pesto warm up to room temp and give it a good stir before you use it!

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“It’s not about what it is- It’s about what it can become..”-Dr.Seuss

Have you ever seen something and lusted after it? Saw it and was instantly able to picture exactly where it would fit into your life. Maybe it was the perfect pair of black pumps that would “go with anything” in your closet. Maybe it was a high end soy candle you would never buy unless you had a gift card ( ’cause they are that damn expensive). Maybe it’s the sixty dollar yoga mat that you can’t justify when you can have four for that price but still, you can picture how much better your sun salutations could be if you only had it! I am so good at this game. Professional level good.

When I was in grade three I missed a month of recess. An entire month of recess. Wanna know why? I spent the morning day dreaming. Instead of working on my cursive, I was busy looking out the window and dreaming about whatever eight year old Micheline dreamt about. I still do this all the time, always have and I probably always will. It’s harmless, it doesn’t take up much of my time, I don’t miss out on anything (like cursive, and in case you are wondering I can and do still write in cursive so it didn’t really hold me back too much).  I know the difference between lust and love when it comes to personal possessions. I can walk away from almost anything, EVEN if I can picture exactly where it may fit in my life and how “happy” it may make me at that moment. I have a rule that if I am still thinking about it in a week and if I can get it without tapping into my savings, I can consider buying it. Nine times out of ten I don’t think about it again.

I wish that was the case with a vase I stumbled upon recently. A rose bowl to be specific, dusted with golden polka dots. I love fresh flowers, I always have fresh flowers, so it was exceptionally easy to see exactly where it would fit into my life ( clearly, it would happily live in the middle of my farm table with a handful of  roses from the farmer’s market). A week went by and I was still thinking about it. Two weeks went by and I was still lusting after it. There was just one teensie, tiny, little problem. It was seventy-five plus dollars. Kate Spade, in all of her cuteness, created the sweetest little rose bowl that I just couldn’t justify. Seventy-five dollars is groceries, one winter tire, an eye exam. Seventy-five dollars is a great hair cut with a just as great of a tip. Seventy-five dollars is gas and the bridge toll to get home to my red dirt island. I lusted and I swooned but I didn’t crack. Instead I became inspired.

I went to the dollar store and bought a rose bowl for less than three dollars. Then I went to the craft store and bought a multi-surface gold paint from the paint isle (this keeps it wash-able, it even claims to be dishwasher safe!). Armed with some dollar store paint brushes, I free handed on the cheap-o rose bowl. Although the paint didn’t leave quite the gilded effect I was hoping for (turns out gold paint isn’t quite as “gold and shiny” as one would hope), I have to say it’s a bang up job for five dollars including all of the supplies and 1/2 an hours work. If you are not inclined to free hand, a stencil would work just as well and for the record, I did three coats of the gold paint!

Happy lusting all! And happy scrimping and saving!

-m

Inspiration:
My version:

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“Come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned..”-Peter Pan

Neverland, where time stands still, you don’t age and as Peter Pan says, “time is never planned”.  Time is something I have been having trouble finding lately, it insists on ticking away rather quickly. I have been so short on it that even though I am trying my very best to squeeze the important things in, people, pass times and other priorities are quickly falling through the cracks. If I have made you feel this way, I am sorry. I am stretched in a few different directions right now, do not take it personally. My blog took a little bit of a back burner but it is now also going to be squeezed back up to the front of the pack. I have been so busy that I have just gotten around to looking at the pictures that I took at Christmas with my new camera lens. Therefore, I am going to share them with you! Please note how great the lens was at capturing my two black cats, if you know anything about black cats, you will know they are dreadful to photograph. They always end up looking like big black blobs with sweet faces that are hard to discern from the rest of them. Disclaimer- I am hardly a photographer and I don’t claim to be. I am just enjoying messing around with a little more camera technology than my iPhone!

I also wanted to take the opportunity to tell you all about an exciting collaboration that will be up and running in the next few weeks with a very good friend of mine. He just so happens to live in NYC and we are going to do a little mini series on where to go, what to do and where to eat in the beautiful, larger than life city. It is going to be great!  Also coming down the pipes, a post on skincare and a post on all of my favorite lipsticks so “hold onto your butts” and happy March all (..and happy time management to me )!

ps. this is my 230th post. Eep! Also I am going to stop saying “I don’t have time” it is officially out of my system after this post!

-m

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“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”- C.S.Lewis

2015 has ended and I have a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful for friends that have grown to be family, new beginnings and evenings that lasted till the early morning. 2015 sent dozens of challenges my way beginning with a new job (unlike any job I have ever had before!) and ending with me taking control of my health and being better to my body.  2015 brought weddings and new babies to many of my close friends. I traveled, I made new acquaintances, I strengthened old bonds and was often reminded of how lucky I am to have such a strong, supportive (and sometimes loud) family. In 2015 I worked hard, that hard work usually paid off and I was reminded again and again of how much I have to be thankful for.

As for 2016; what are my wishes for myself?  I wish to continue to make my health a priority, I wish to read more, I hope to finish all of the projects that I begin and I want try my best at being a kinder person.

What are my wishes for you?  I hope you challenge yourselves, that you take opportunities when they turn up and that you don’t say “maybe” when you really want to say “no”. I hope you take the time to see the beauty in your surroundings and that you take the time to be good to someone other than yourself.

Now that the formalities are out of the way I wanted to share a little project that I was working on throughout the fall. For Christmas I refinished the cutest little hutch for my sister. I bought it off of a friend for $30 dollars and with a paint sample, some sand paper, a coat of varnish and a little elbow grease, it had a total transformation. I cleaned up the original hardware and I lined the drawers with a lovely piece of high end wrapping paper that I snagged at a paper shop for just $5. The entire project cost about $40, maybe $45 if you include the supplies I already had on hand.

Happy 2016!

-m

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