Monthly Archives: August 2013

A Lovely Anniversary Weekend

Last week Nick and I had our second wedding anniversary (you can read all about the wedding here).  In truth, we can both hardly believe it’s been two years already, and we’re still in the happy newlywed mindset, so we’re very happy about that!  We both had a day of vacation during the week, which we spent together, relaxing, enjoying the glorious weather, and generally basking in each other’s company.  One of the highlights of the mid-week celebrations was a homemade steak dinner paired with homemade wine on our balcony, check out some pictures from that lovely evening.

We also continued one of our anniversary traditions, reciting our vows to each other again.  That always brings happy tears to my eyes, and brings us back to the very beginning of our marriage.

I also managed to check off one of my anniversary wish list items – I had ordered a custom cake, inspired by our wedding cake.  So we brought out our cake topper and enjoyed a nostalgic dessert as well.  Mmmm, marble cake with strawberry filling delicious memories.

Once the weekend hit, we had a romantic getaway planned.  We hopped onto the direct Toronto to Stratford shuttle to spend the weekend enjoying the little city and its wonderful theatre.  It was a great time walking around a picturesque little city, with a quite vibrant and charming downtown.  In the evening, we went to the Festival Theatre and watched this season’s production of Romeo and Juliet, a fittingly romantic play and my favourite Shakespeare play.

The next day, we got to explore more of Stratford’s downtown and beyond, venturing onto side streets and meandering through residential neighbourhoods.  We also explored the beautiful waterfront of the Avon River, complete with charming bridges and islands, and plentiful idyllic swans and ducks happily bobbing about.

By Sunday evening we were back home in Toronto, feeling relaxed and full of fresh air.  All in all it was a lovely, romantic weekend filled with sweet memories.  And we’ll definitely be back, Stratford, you’ve charmed us both!

(Cast photo of Romeo and Juliet from the Stratford Festival’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/StratfordFestival/photos_stream )

Black Bean Burgers and Cilantro Lime Quinoa

Somewhere in the midst of pantry cleaning, I found myself with 2 cans of black beans and little idea what to do with them, but knowing I wanted to try something new.  In the process, I managed to craft a delicious, vegetarian (not vegan) meal that you might enjoy.  Call it Mexican with a healthy twist.

Black Bean Burgers (adapted from here) Makes 5-6 patties

Ingredients

  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 cans (878g total, or about 31 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp hot sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot)
  • seasoning salt

Directions

Cook shallot with 1 tbsp olive oil, in a frying pan on medium heat, until lightly caramelized.  Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds.  Take off heat, and set aside.

In a bowl, mash beans with a fork.  Add in cooled shallot mix, cilantro, egg, salt, pepper, cumin, and hot sauce, mix thoroughly.

Shape into patties (it gets messy), and place on some wax paper for easy cleanup.  Sprinkle with seasoning salt.

Heat up more olive oil in the frying pan on med-high.  Cook patties until golden brown and crispy on both sides.

Optionally, top with sour cream or salsa.

Cilantro Lime Quinoa (Serves 4)

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp cilantro
  • lime juice, ¾ of a lime
  1. In a pot, bring the quinoa and vegetable broth to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, allow to cook covered for 15-20 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, mix together vegetable oil, cilantro, and lime juice.
  4. Once quinoa is cooked, let it sit for a few minutes to cool, then fluff with a fork and mix in cilantro lime sauce well.

We’re not a family of vegetarians at all, but I tried these black bean burgers purely out of experiment, and they were quite tasty!  Plus, the leftovers were perfect to pack as a lunch – Nick had cheese on top of his, and I topped mine with salsa.  And I am loving this quinoa recipe right now – it reminds me of the delicious cilantro lime rice at Chipotle, but is even healthier.  I’ve also done that recipe by simply cooking brown rice, and then adding the same sauce, and again, delicious.  So delicious I’ve had it by itself as an entire meal.

Do you guys have any favourite summer recipes?

Chrome Failure

You may remember my new love of chrome spray paint (showcased here).  It was fantastic on the vases – here’s another pic to refresh your memory.  Gorgeous, right?

And there’s another project I worked on with the chrome, but that’s still under wraps.  However, one day I was looking at our pretty little glass table and kitchen chairs, and noticed that the metals didn’t quite match.  As in, the chairs are a satiny grey, whereas the table legs are glossy metal.  So, I had the brilliant idea to spray paint the chair legs and see if that unifies them.  Nick saw that I was spray-happy and decided to give me an even better idea – why not try out silver chairs?  We had one chair that was a bit stained and needed to be replaced anyway, and for 10 bucks a chair, it was worth a shot.  So, while Nick was having drilling adventures to get our curtains up, I headed out to the balcony with some new paint.  This time I tried Rustoleum Specialty Metallic, since Home Depot didn’t have my beloved Krylon.

The job was super amateur, and I probably should have used a primer first, but I threw caution to the wind and decided to wing it.  And here are the results:

You can see I’ve put the silver chair next to a plain white chair for comparison.  It was kind of nice, we kind of liked it.  But we didn’t love it, and it was nowhere near a perfect match to the table legs.  In fact, the legs barely look different at all.  Plus there were a few flaws due to the seat and backing texture.  Le sigh.  Oh well, just goes to show you that not everything works out.  I’m mainly sharing this in the interests of transparency, since it’s so annoying to only post the perfect parts.  Also, who knows?  Maybe someone out there is thinking of spray painting an Ikea Laver chair just for kicks, and wants to know what would happen.  Now you know.  What happens is meh.

Any little DIY mishaps happening to you guys? 

On This Day… August 20th, 2011

This would hardly be a proper blog without… the wedding post.

It’s the post I see on Mom blogs, newlywed blogs, and all sorts, because of course, weddings are such an important part of our life as women.  We dream of them, plan them in our heads, and then suddenly – it’s here.  That day, the day you walk down the aisle, and all your dreams come true (or so the fairy tales claim, which happens to still be the case for us).  So I’ve included some pictures of that wonderful day, pictures I often find myself looking at and smiling, and memories that are among my most cherished.

In all honesty, our wedding day was perfect, and beyond anything I could have ever dreamed, which is a lot since I’d been pretty much planning the wedding since I was 2 years old  (you know, when I wanted a poofy PINK wedding dress, ahem).  And as lovely as it was, as beautiful and romantic, we must remember the most important difference between real life and fairy tales – the wedding never matters more than the marriage, and “happily ever after”…. it’s just the beginning.  I always said that the most important part of the wedding to me would be the man waiting at the end of the aisle, and that was completely true.  I will never forget the moment I stood at the end of the aisle, looking into my love’s eyes… it was as if the whole world melted away, leaving only a cloud of love, bliss, and the gorgeous strains of “Heart of the King” playing.  And when he reached out to lead me to the altar… it was a wave of feeling ultimately loved, completely in love, and blissfully happy.  And that feeling remains…

Time for some pictures.  First, one of my favourite glamour type shots in the bridal suite.

We opted for a “first look” photo session, so this is the moment we first saw each other, before the ceremony.

Our beautiful bridal party!

A sweet romantic photo.One of our favourite pictures! Taken out on Bloor Street in front of the venue, we have this as a large canvas in our home.

The small and lovely ceremony

Photos with the family after the ceremony – officially married now!

Detail photo of the reception, and the taper candle and rose petal centrepieces.

Our delicious wedding cake, and the sweet cake topper that makes us smile to this day

Cutting the cake

Our first dance as husband and wife, to the Glee cover of Journey’s “Faithfully”, and complete with a choreographed lift 🙂

It’s been an incredible two years with my amazing husband, the best two years of our long lives thus far.  Nick, my handsome loving warrior prince, I am more in love with you every day, and can’t wait for our story to continue.

What I’m Wearing: Pink Polka Dots

Do you ever have those days where you get dressed and just feel like you’ve really got it together?  That’s the power of a good outfit, it can make you feel sharp, positive, and ready to take on the world.  With that in mind, I figured I might as well post when that happens.  My main goal is to showcase easy outfits that are somewhat stylish, flattering, and won’t break the bank.  Basically cute, real outfits, since I’m sure we all see lots of $1,500 blazers which might be just a bit outside the budget.

So, here goes, the first of the What I’m Wearing posts.  Please pardon the frizz, it’s been hot and humid here in the big city!

Top: hot pink ruched cowl-neck top, Suzy Shier, bought in 2010

Bottom: black pencil skirt with some stretch, Suzy Shier, 2010

Shoes: hot pink and white polka dot peep-toe wedges (with a bow!), Suzy Shier, 2007(ish)

I can’t remember exact prices since these were all bought so long ago, but I’m pretty sure each piece was $20-25 max.  Not bad when you consider how long I’ve had them, and they still look good.

What I love about this outfit:

You cannot go wrong with a well-fitting pencil skirt – it is the simplest way to look elegant, feminine, and put together, especially in a classic (and slimming!) color like black.  This skirt is easily one of the most often worn pieces in my closet.

A pink top may seem very bold to some people, but it’s a staple in my wardrobe, and a cute top in soft cotton will feel great.  I like how the ruching, button details, and cowl neck keep it from looking too casual by adding interest.  This keeps the outfit office appropriate and youthful.

And the shoes – arguably the highlight of this outfit.  I really like matching a top to shoes for cohesion, and wedges are a comfy way to sport heels.  These are one of my favourite pairs of shoes, because they always make me smile, and I get compliments on them whenever I wear them.  I try to add something unexpected into an outfit, especially an office one, whether it’s a silky blouse, some statement jewellery, or in this case, statement-making shoes.

What are you guys wearing, any cute outfit ideas?  I’d love to discuss! 

I’m a Yummy Gummy Bear

Haha, did that remind you of the funny song/ringtone?  If not, then check it out here, it’s hilarious!

Anyways, this post basically comprises of me finally trying something I saw on Pinterest – yay for actually doing stuff!  I had seen many (soooo many) pins about basically liquor-soaked gummy candies, and I finally tried it.

So, I found lots of varying instructions about ratios and soaking times, but in the end decided to go with what seemed to be the simplest route.  Here goes.

  • Place gummy candy (I used gummy bears) in a bowl.
  • Pour in enough liquor to cover the candy (we went with Smirnoff Lime flavoured vodka).
  • Cover with plastic wrap.
  • Place in fridge, and let soak for at least 24 hours.

When we took them out to try, they looked a bit like this:

And they were delicious!  They basically tasted like a candy version of a fruity cocktail.  Plus, they took away some of the childish qualities I viscerally associate with gummy candy – after all, these were grown-up gummy bears.  Mmmm….

We kept the leftovers in the fridge to keep soaking, and they were just as delicious the next day.

I do have a few suggestions, though.  I suggest using candy that’s not coated in sugar – we tried peach rings another time, and they weren’t quite as pleasant in texture.  Also, use a flavoured liquor.  We really liked the lime vodka.  The peach rings we tried with some simple Bacardi rum, but the alcohol’s taste sort of overpowered the candy, so it wasn’t quite as fun, though they were still good.

So, there you have it.  A fun simple way to make a great drink/snack, and it would be a surefire conversation piece at a summer barbeque.  Have you tried gummy candy?  Or any other fun and unusual recipes?

(Photo of gummy bear character from https://soundcloud.com/roound5/gummybear-im-a-gummybear )

Joys of Summer

I love summer.  It’s so magical, from the bright early mornings, to the lazy afternoons and mesmerizing sunsets, and then warm starlit nights – ahhhhhhh.  I truly believe each season brings its own charm, beauty, and romance, but summer is my season soulmate, summer understands me and flows with me better than any other season.  I remember reading that creation and God romances us, and I can’t help but think that summer is when the romance is piled on like no other time, at least for me.

So I’ve been thinking of how the important events in my life have often revolved around summer.  I was born right in midsummer.  Summer vacations to the Black Sea, the mountains, the tropics.   Memories made with friends when books and homework were the farthest things from our minds.  My grandparents visiting from Romania.  Every graduation in school.  High school prom, the apex of all teenage movies.  Meeting the love of my life, on a random street corner in Waterloo.  And of course, getting married, a summer wedding just like I had dreamed my whole life, and paving the way for endless beautiful anniversaries, in the summer.

And so, for summer, this summer, I am thankful for so much.

For settling into our new apartment, making it our home.

For going to the beach on a whim, and languishing in the sun.

For my hair, which has finally reached the lengths I’ve dreamed of all my life – even if Mother Nature did need a bit of help with this one 😉

For easy dinners and fresh salad, a summer staple.

For going out for ice cream or gelato, and enjoying our great city.

For the soaring skyline views we take in every evening, right from our own home.

For chilled rose and coolers, over laughter and good conversation.

For love, and letting the beauty and warmth of our surroundings bring us even closer together.

This summer, how are you letting life romance you?