“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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“Christmas: The only time of year you can sit in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of socks…”-Unknown

I am long overdue for a post, I have been a bad blogger and although I can provide you all with a tirade of excuses, let’s just chalk it up to life getting in the way….

Last week I had a very interesting conversation with a friend about holiday traditions. She had been listening to a radio program that was discussing how those traditions, no matter how small, are what shape the holiday season for so many people. When adults think back to their childhood Christmases it is very seldom that they can recall the gifts but they can quickly rhyme off the traditions their families held that make the festive season really come together for them. A comical discussion comparing our traditions quickly ensued (they were so different!) and it got me thinking about what makes the holiday come alive for me..

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In our household we always have had a slew of long standing traditions when it comes to the holiday season. Some are pretty universal, my mom made shortbread (find link to incredibly simple and well loved recipe here), we trimmed the tree, overindulged in holiday movies and we always attended Christmas Eve mass. Christmas morning was spent in our new pajamas (which my dad still gets us!), strategically passing gifts around while mom and dad drank dark coffee in long, slow gulps, trying very hard to wake up and be lively. Living away from family for the most part meant that Christmas morning was punctuated with dozens of phone calls, visits from neighbors/friends and sometimes our Christmas day even included packing up the car and making the 3 hour trip to Halifax to see the people at the other end of the telephone line. A few things have changed, mainly that my sister and I are now also enthusiastically pounding back coffee in our jammies and my career means that I spend every second Christmas with my chosen family as opposed to my biological one. I wouldn’t change a thing.

As for more unconventional or at least “less common” traditions, we have a few and they just so happen to be my favorite ones. Every Christmas Eve after mass we have always had fried ham sandwiches. Yes, they are exactly what they sound like; fried ham with some HP Sauce, served on soft white bread with a side of crisp pickles. It’s a weird one (I freely admit this) but we have just always done that (I think my mom may have grown up doing the same). You don’t have to take my word for it but very few things come even close to being that delicious and maybe it’s the tradition that makes it taste so incredible for something so simple.

One of my very favorite traditions growing up was that my mom and nanny always gave my sister and I Christmas ornaments. We were allowed to open these Christmas Eve (after the ham sandwiches, clearly) and hang them on the tree. We each had our own shoe box filled with these treasures and we were each responsible for hanging them every year. Over the years we have amassed quite a collection. When I bought my first house my mom gave me my shoe box of ornaments and now the best part of decorating for the holiday is enjoying my sentimental collection.

As for new traditions? Ornament exchanges with friends happen annually and donations are collected for local charities that help abused women and children. Food banks are visited and sweets are baked for coworkers who are busy taking care of other peoples loved ones. If I am lucky enough to make it home to the little island on boxing day, all of my lifelong friends (my other chosen family) convene at a house party and usually end up dancing the night away at The Old Dublin Pub. Last but not least, mulled apple cider is enjoyed with a healthy splash of spiced rum. It tastes and smells like Christmas, basically the holiday season served up hot in a comfortable mug (seriously, it beats the hell out of egg nog and rum!).

What are some of your traditions?

Need some last minute gifts? Be sure to check out Dots and Loops, a beautifully curated shop filled with handmade gifts and many local products. It is quirky, fun and I guarantee you will find something for even the most persnickety person on Santa’s list. For all you online shoppers, shipping is fast with a fantastic flat rate but if you prefer to shop in person, it is located seaside in picturesque Lunenburg (go for gifts stay for the view!). The customer service is incredible (seriously, I received a hand written note with my order!) and it feels great to support local business! Happy shopping!

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-m

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.”- James A Garfield

Peanut butter, I have never been one to swoon over the nutty spread. You will never catch me eating it out of the jar with a spoon, I have always preferred jam. I keep it on hand to make quick peanut sauces for stir-fry’s and I may go through one jar a year (I am sure many of you are gasping in shock and awe as Pb has a very big and very loyal following) . The only time I have truly loved peanut butter (besides as a child enjoying sand-dusted Pb and banana sandwiches at the beach) is at 2 am on the back-shift when paired with the squishy white bread often found in hospitals. At 2 am it is a savior, tasting better than anything you have ever tasted, helping you catch a second wind and make it through until the sun is up and your relief is waiting for report with coffee in hand.

This all changed last week when I decided to make a Halloween treat for my hard-working coworkers. I was stumbling through recipe books and web pages when I found Smitten Kitchen’s newest recipe for a simple peanut butter cookie. You know, one of the three or four ingredient varieties. Except these looked nothing like the ones I have made with the recipe off the back of the jar. These were tall, puffy mounds with a beautiful cracked crust on the top, these looked like the ultimate peanut butter cookie. The kind of peanut butter cookie that could possibly make a convert out of even the most persnickety of peanut butter eaters. Her ingredients were simple; eggs, peanut butter, sugar and vanilla. No different than the ones on the back of the jar, even with the same ratio! So what made hers so special? Well she switched traditional white sugar for brown sugar. She also added a touch of sea salt (which makes for an almost religious taste-bud experience, trust me). She also chilled the dough before scooping and then chilled again right on the sheet before baking. This helps prevent cookie spread and helps them keep their tall shape. In turn this also allows the outside to crisp up and the inside to remain soft and chewy. Win, win, win. These are some of the better cookies I have ever made. They took no time (with exception of chilling) and they were an absolute hit at work. Happy baking all, I may just have to buy myself  second jar of peanut butter.

-m

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Smitten Kitchen’s Peanut Butter Cookies (The salted kind….DELISH!)

You will need…

  • 1 and 3/4 cups of smooth peanut butter (Kraft or Skippy or something along those lines)
  • 1 and 3/4 cups of packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (room temp)
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla or almond extract ( I was out of vanilla and the almond was incredible)
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl whisk eggs, vanilla and sugar together. Add peanut butter and mix well (I used my mixer and paddle blade). Place dough in freezer for 15 minutes, stirring half way through. When dough sufficiently chilled, use cookie scoop (#40) or drop from a teaspoon onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with sea salt and place the cookie sheet in the freezer for a further 15 minutes. Place in oven right from the freezer and bake for 14-15 minutes, until edges are brown. Cool on wire rack (if they are hard to lift let them sit for a couple of minutes on the pan) and allow to cool completely before enjoying with a large glass of milk or a hot cup of coffee. Nom, nom, nom.

“Life is a great big canvas, throw all the paint you can on it.”- Danny Kaye

Don’t get me wrong, I love my middle aged house, in my middle aged neighborhood, in the city that I adore. Win, win, win. I love at least 86% of what my house has to offer, which is a great statistic. It’s cozy, has a great yard and it is full of character. Sure, the kitchen is the size of a postage stamp and I am currently saving for all new windows but those are things I can change with time, money and patience. What I can’t change is the lack of storage that often comes with homes built 50+ years ago. It is an issue I grapple with on the daily. I have three closets, one of which is a “coat closet” that will fit three coats total (two if they are heavy winter ones). My hats, scarves and mitts live on a shelf that I can’t reach without a step stool, a ladder or a tall person’s assistance (I am gravitation-ally enhanced, standing a full five-foot-nothing with shoes on). I do find this just a little bit aggravating. Unfortunately I can’t easily change the footprint of my house to include better storage, nor can I go back in time (where is Doc and Marty McFly when I need them?) to convince the contractor that an extra closet and maybe a slightly bigger kitchen would be beneficial for potential re-sale value and the future owner’s mild case of OCD.

The answer to my “winter gear conundrum” came to me while I was cleaning out my bedroom closet (seriously, just a PSA, I think I may hoard clothing…I donated bags and bags!) and I noticed the little black dresser that I came to own after my sister moved to Fredericton for school. This dresser is solid wood, a little too big to be a nightstand but not quite big enough to be used for sweaters and it had been left by previous tenants in one of the old apartments my sister called home while she was in school. Knowing I would one day find a purpose for it, it was placed in my closet to be used to house bathing suits, tights and all other random apparel that didn’t quite have a place.

I took it down to my entry way and it just so happened to fit the small nook next to my stairs but to be honest, it looked like crap. It had previously been painted with a high gloss black paint that was too shiny and chipped. Really though, it was nothing a little paint couldn’t fix. I bought a sample sized paint at Home Depot for $2.97 and I found some satin finish Varathane deeply discounted because it had a dent in the can (bonus!). A quick sand, two coats of paint, another quick sand (with some fine grit paper to distress it a bit) and two coats of Varathane later, I now have the perfect place to store my mail and all of my winter gear where I can easily grab it (without the use of a chair or step stool….). Total cost $11.00 taxes in, total time to complete the job, 1hr without drying time! Another example of how paint can breathe new life into almost anything! Happy up-cycling and re-finishing all!

-m

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