Thursday, June 25, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
And I thought his Willy Wonka was creepsville. Johnny Depp gets back in bed with Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton as The Mad Hatter in the upcoming epic, Alice in Wonderland. Eee!
Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Stephen Fry and Alan Rickman round out the cast of what I'm sure will give millions of children many cold-sweat-soaked sleepless nights. I remember when Mogwais were scary enough, and they weren't even the bad guys. Good lord.
Friday, June 19, 2009
I was discussing small-space living with a colleague today - She's having the same debate we had: to dine, or not to dine. How can you have it all, graciously? In typical downtown condos, the plans suggest a full-size dining area, a living area, and a breakfast bar can be crammed into less than 400 square feet. Well, that's not exactly true, is it?
When in the preliminary planning of our space, I eliminated the "dining room" portion of our living area. I thought it more important to max-out our cozy-space, rather than eke out a portion as dedicated dining. We do far more lounging than we do eating, after all, so that made sense.
But a little Craigslisting changed all that - I found (for a measly $25) a fantastic marble-topped bistro table. It's plenty large enough for the two of us to dine, but small enough to leave plenty of living room. It's also a great place to lay out appetizers at a party or sit to do a bit of computing. I'm glad this option presented itself. I think I'd be annoyed if I had to mount a stool and saddle up to the counter every time I needed a stable surface. If you live in a small space, consider making room for dining. Even if your table is the size of a placemat, I think you'll be happy you have it.
We continue to make small changes to our apartment. Most recently, we installed dimmers on every switch (Sweet ambiance! Such an easy, economical way to have ultimate mood-flexibility!) and upgraded our cruddy kitchen faucet. We hadn't really planned on something so commercial-kitchen, but I'm so glad we went for it! Not only is it super-functional (filling pots, hosing off dishes, cleaning the sink itself) but it adds a ton of interest to our fairly-basic kitchen. For $249 at your local big box store, you can have one too!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Well, it's official. We just bought a cottage on 9 Mile Lake in the Muskokas. Thanks to the current owner's imminent divorce, we scored a hasty deal and will close on July 22. Afterall, riding the wave of other people's sorrow is what real estate is all about!
It will be a good old fashioned family cottage. We'll spend weekends together in kindred bliss. And it's perfect. It sits on a giant rock just meters from the water's edge. Luckily it was built back in the good old days when no one cared; new legislation restricting coastal building would definitely deny this, and even moreso our adorable little bunky on the water. Jeff and I have already staked our claim over this guy - It's practically the size of our apartment and we can pee off the dock! Score! (Not to mention, it's perfect for escaping the aforementioned "bliss" when necessary!)
The 200+ feet of frontage is water-access only (AKA: Our price range!) making it private and inaccessible to anyone without a boat - So no unexpected drop-ins! The main house has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a giant kitchen with ridiculous views and a cozy living room complete with an absolute must: a bar! There's a screened-in porch that we'll turn into a giant dining room and a big deck outside. There's a perfect place to put a water slide and a diving board too. Out back there's a nice, flat grassy spot to pitch tents or put a badminton net. All-in-all, it's a dream. Clean, but not prissy. Remote, but not creepy. Cozy, but not tiny.
Jeff's brother took on the negotiating, and naturally, I'll take care of the decorating. When water-access only, cottages typically come fully furnished as shipping to-and-from an island becomes a hassle. The whole place is stocked with shabby-chic 70s furniture which I plan to go with. You gotta work with what you've got! And while the fundamentals are already in-place, there's much to do!
I want family photos everywhere, gallery walls out the wahzoo. I want the place to sleep more people than Paris Hilton's vagina, so we'll make every couch a pull-out. I want cozy throws and cushy pillows. New bedding in all the bright colours I'd never normally use and great little country curtains. Snappy outdoor furniture made for whiling away the hours with an issue of Esquire. I want to paint the shutters and doors in something eye-catching, prompting people to say: "You know, the cottage on the lake with the cobalt blue shutters!" I want it to be easy and durable and, most of all, turn-key. After 2.5 hours in the car followed by a boat ride across the lake, I want to stash my perishables, mix a mojito and sit on my ass for 48 hours a week. No fuss, no muss!
You're all invited, so snag your cutest bathing suit and your bug spray! And forgive me if I don't update until the weather turns cold.
(Photos by me.)
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I don't get why the world hates on Gwyneth Paltrow. With her blog, Goop, she's become a bit of a mockery of herself. But I kinda dig her. She seems fairly normal and fun, seems to like a boozy night on the town, and rocks a mini-dress. She's sarcastic and funny and named her kid "Apple". I mean, what's to hate?
Come on world, remember Sliding Doors?
We moved into our apartment three-and-a-half weeks ago. Somehow it feels like we've lived here forever. I don't remember what it's like to walk down the street to my own front door; I've officially gotten accustomed to lobbies and elevators and balconies overlooking the city.
It happened quietly and without warning, perhaps because I was distracted by my new job. I tore off a major Bandaid, changing everything in one fell swoop. And somehow it became June 9 today! I was in a meeting discussing June 18 as if it was weeks away and a colleague was like "Dude! Today's June 9!" Shocking!
We've settled-in, despite the time warp.
Monday, June 8, 2009
We spent the weekend on 9 Mile Lake, which is a lovely area in the Muskokas near Gravenhurst. (For the Americans, this is some of the most beautiful cottage country in the land located on the limestone of the Canadian Shield, lakes of all sizes, lots of thick, untouched forest all around). It's one of those places that makes you remember we live on planet Earth: green and lush and surrounded by the protective wall of rock. It makes you wanna throw it all away and live in a bunky on a parcel of remote Crown Land. Even the term "Crown Land" gives me chills, as if you might catch the Queen herself cruising the water
looking for a place to build a summer castle.
We stayed with some extended family and, aside from spending time with our adorable niece, Elise, and her parents, we were there to do a bit of house hunting. We're in the market for a new family cottage, one where generations of our offspring can soak their feet in the iron-rich water. I hope to update you soon on the results of the search. Eee!
I made my first vichysoisse last week. There's nothing easier or more delicious than a pureed soup - especially one that can be eaten so many ways: cold, room-temp, or piping hot. Vichysoisse has one of those ultra-adaptable flavour profiles, too. It goes with almost anything, from hamburgers and hot dogs to a delicate seafood dinner.
2 tbsp butter
4 cups chopped asparagus (2 small bunches and save stalks for garnish!)
2 cups sliced leeks (one big one!)
4 cups diced Yukon Gold potatoes (don't even bother peeling them!)
8 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup whipping cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add asparagus and leeks and sauté for a couple minutes. Add potatoes and sauté until slightly softened, another couple minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked.
Puree the soup (use a blender for a smoother and lighter texture, but you can use an immersion blender if you're not into pulling out the big guns.) Return to the pot, add cream and season with salt and pepper (I found it didn't need much in the way of seasoning. Literally a pinch of each.) Simmer for 5 minutes to blend flavours. Serve any temperature you like, it's perfect any way you slice it.
Garnish each serving with a blanched stalk of asparagus. Or try a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche, perhaps a pinch or sprig of dill. I think next time I'll use white asparagus and purple potatoes - Wouldn't that be pretty?!