26 August 2008


One day I asked my sister to go into my bag and grab my wallet. She opened my bag, looked in, looked back up at me imploringly, and cried, "Which one is it?". Sigh, is it that hard. Obviously it is the empty looking one!!

I guess to the uninitiated, it could be daunting to find the correct cute accessory within my monster bag. After all, there is the apples and pears fabric chequebook cover that I purchased on etsy from blissbyheather; there is the catch all wallet that come from the One of a Kind show in Toronto; a business card holder from rikrak, plus on any given day a digital camera, an ipod, sunglasses and various other items which demand their own protective (and stylish) covering.

One thing though that I was seriously lacking was a lip balm cozy. How could I have missed out on this essential accessory? I always end up tossing away lip balms before they are finished because I get disgusted by the grottiness that results from having them rolling around in the bottom of my bag. This lip balm cozy therefore will not only look good, while providing me with smooth, kissable lips, but it will save me money in the long run by reducing my overall lip balm expenditures.

Add to this the fact, that this lip balm cozy is benefiting a worthy cause. Etsy pal loopy4ewe is fundraising as an attempt to earn the funds needed to participate in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer in June 2009. As part of her fundraising scheme she has created this sweet little lip balm cozies.

It is made of the softest pink cotton and it has the most fantastic little closure. The teeny breast cancer ribbon buttons were supplied by another extraordinary etsy seller, gillianbeads.

To prevent my lip balm from rolling around in the bottom of my icky bag (I could clean the bag, I guess?) the cozy comes with a convenient key ring. I can never lose my lip balms now... unless I lose my keys and let us not even consider that possibility, thank you.

Here it is again, complete with lip balm. One final shout out here, for carmelsoaps who makes some very drool-worthy lipbalms. This one is cinnamint and you can see it is a little dirty... darn bag... but I couldn't find my nice fresh clean one, probably due to the fact that it does not yet have its very one easily accessible cozy!

ps... carmelsoaps Lemon Cheesecake lip balm is delish!

18 August 2008

Return to Summer

A mere few days ago I was singing the praises of autumn. Today, however I feel the need to backpedal a bit. Summer has returned to Eastern Canada, and brought with it many, many enticing morsels.

I thought I would post a few quick and easy dishes which, in my humble opinion are perfect for enjoying the best of the season. Both of these dishes are perfect for those meat-free days which we should all try to fit at least once into our weekly meal schedule.

First, zucchini rosti. This is one of my summer favorites, and very simple to prepare.
First, grate one medium zucchini. This will serve person one as a hearty main dish, or two as a side dish. Let the grated zucchini drain in a sieve over a bowl, ideally adding weight to the top to squeeze out the excess juices. (I used a small plate with a jar of pasta sauce on top; to finish I squeezed by hand.)
Add 1/3 cup bread crumbs, and 1 egg. Mix together until combined. Season with sea-salt and freshly ground pepper. You may choose to add herbs if you wish, though I reserved mine for the sauce that I made to top the rosti.
Heat about 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. When hot, place the mix in the pan and shape into a flat round. You can complete the cooking on the stovetop, or put it into a 375 degree oven. Either way, you will want to flip it once, to get the top and bottom equally crispy. You can also finish it off in the broiler to make it extra crisp.
For the sauce I mixed 1/2 cup Balkan style plain yogurt, with 1 tbsp mayonnaise. Add fresh herbs of your choice. I used tarragon. It was delicious.

Another summer time favorite is a simple tomato tart. This is a super-fast dish, and is perfect for a light dinner or lunch. I have also served it as small individual squares as part a bridal shower buffet.
You will need one square of puff-pastry, thawed in the fridge. If you can get the pastry in sheet form, that is easiest. If you can only find blocks, roll it out to approximately 10x10 inches. Place it on a parchment paper lined sheet pan.
Next, brush with an egg wash, and prick the pastry several times at regular intervals with a fork. Place it in a pre-heated oven (follow package instructions), until it is browned and puffed. Now, remove it from the oven and let the pastry fall until it is even and has no irregular lumps and bumps. Pre-baking the pastry helps keep it crisp and flaky.
In the meantime, slice enough tomatoes to completely cover the top of the tart. I used 2 medium vine tomatoes. Chop some herbs to scatter on top. Choose your favorite. Tonight, I used a mix of basil and tarragon.
Layer the tomatoes on the now fallen pastry, scatter on your herbs, and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. You may also decide to add some cheese. Tonight, I added a wonderfully creamy, triple-cream brie. It is also wonderful with goat's cheese or feta.
Place the tart back in the oven until tomatoes are wilted and warmed, and the cheese is melted.
There are so many variations to this tart. Apart from a gamut of herbs and cheeses with which to experiment, there is now also a wonderful variety of heirloom tomatoes available. You can add your own additions as well, such as olives, or pine nuts.

Enjoy. Bon Apetit.

15 August 2008


I know that no one wants to hear this, but the sad truth is that summer is drawing to a close. The signs are all there.

It is evident by the cooler nights and shorter days. Back to school shopping and the Canadian National Exhibition (the unofficial end of summer, and the start of the fall fair season). It is in the cycle of the farmer's market: strawberry and rhubarb harvests have passed, blueberries and peaches are in and, apples and pears should be arriving not far behind. The softer light of early fall caresses the cornfields and meadows, bathing them at twilight in subtle golden glow.

There is nothing we can do to stop time. Embrace the season. In my opinion there is no season better. The colours are stunning, the cooler temperatures mean you get to layer on fun accessories, the delicious bounty of the season is ready for harvest (butternut squash soup. YUM!), and longer evenings mean more opportunity to snuggle in with your sweetie.

Above a new pair of earrings which draw inspiration from the wonder of autumn. Below, a collection/treasury of some of my favorite items on etsy.

13 August 2008

It Had to be Done.

For the first time in ages the sun is shining and rather than frolicking about outside, I am utilizing the sunny daylight to re-photograph some etsy listings. When I first started on etsy, I was sans-tripod. This is not the best way to attempt still photography.

When I got the tripod, I was still fortunate to have a lovely outdoor location in Toronto to use as a backdrop, namely the remains of a brick facade in Rosetta McLain Park in Toronto's east end. Though the location was a ideal, sometimes my lighting was not. Too sunny, too cloudy, rarely just right. Then this past winter, my ideal location became blanketed with a foot of snow and that left me the new challenge of trying to figure out how to photograph well using indoor, often artificial light. It was also this past winter that I discovered the macro-setting on my camera, which is an indispensable feature. And then as you know, spring came and once the snow melted once again revealing my ideal location, I was packing boxes into a U-Haul and leaving my lovely shooting location far behind.

The result is that in the year and a half that I have had my etsy shop, several different styles of photography have found their way into my shop listings. This, I believe, does not serve to make my shop as appealing as possible. It looks choppy and incohesive. With the buying season looming, it is time to fix this issue. So today I am hard at work, reshooting some of my worst photos, while longing to be outside.

In a nod to one of my favorite quiet past-times many of my new listing photos use antique books as props, as in this example.

Below, was my original listing photo. I love the look of the exposed brick behind the bust, but the detail of the beads was far too washed out.

If at first you don't succeed.....

12 August 2008


Its time for the Olympics. The next two weeks will bring the most sports coverage I will watch until Vancouver 2010.

Personally, I'm not sporty. Its not that I don't want to be, but the sad truth is I am small and really rather clumsy. That greatly diminishes my odds of excelling at anything that involves strength or agility, or in other words, most sports. My biggest handicap however, comes from a inherent skittishness. Far too many sports involve something coming at you at a very high speed, or someone trying to hit you. Thank you very kindly, but I don't think I want to put myself into the path of any sort of projectile. I mean really, doesn't that just seem like good common sense?

I'm content for now to let others excel at faster, higher, stronger. I have made my peace with dawdling, low-to-the-ground and, weak as a kitten.

I wish our wonderful Canadian athletes much success in Beijing!

10 August 2008

Sweaters. Not Just for Sweating Anymore.

I think by now we all agree that recycling is a very good idea. When the concept hit fashion, it became even better. And when the idea of recycling fashion to make new fashions came around, well, I bought a toque.

I need to prepare for my impending first Maritime winter. Today, therefore, while strolling the booths at a craft market happening this weekend in Moncton, I couldn't pass by this fantastic toque. It has all the colours that I love, all cut from 6 different recycled sweaters. The end result is a patchwork of wooly warmth that will provide a comfortable fashion statement come winter.

Coincidentally, the creator of this hat is the same woman that I met a few weeks ago at a craft shop in St Andrews-by-the-Sea. Her shop/studio is called Wizard of Felt.

The idea of recycling sweaters is not limited to just hats and various other accessories either. Check out this amazing rug that I received from one of my favorite etsy sellers, Pegg of fiveforty.

This rug was actually a gift (an unbelievably generous gift!!) from Pegg for being her 100th etsy sale. The earrings that I bought are beautiful, too. But this rug, let me tell you... when I have had a hard day on my feet all day, the first thing I do when I walk in the door is kick off my shoes and go to stand on this rug. To make this rug, sweaters have been cut into strips and felted before being loom woven into the end reult. Pegg's process creates a comforting cushion for poor tired feet of which Dr. Sholls can only dream. I keep my rug in my kitchen and slide it back and forth between my sink and stove, depending on where I am working.

Personally, I can't wait to see what recycling comes up with next.

5 August 2008

A 17 Month Knitting Project Comes to an End

One of my very first posts on this blog was about a quick, learn to knit class that I took while I still lived in Toronto. At the end of the course I purchased a skein of beautiful deep blue yarn and a set of bamboo knitting needles. My plan was to knit a simple scarf. It seemed like an easy enough project. I finished the skein of wool within a couple weeks and decided that the scarf was too short and I would need to add an additional skein of wool to get to the desired length. So back to the wool shop I went and bought my second skein. And that is where all progress halted.

I needed to figure out how to add the second ball in to the current project. This one had me stumped and I carried the project around in my car for months, meaning to ask my sister to show me how to continue. I kept forgetting. And then one day I discovered the abandoned project in my backseat, but there was a new mystery... What had happened to my second needle? It was lost. Nowhere to be found. So before I could continue I needed to go get a new pair of needles. Naturally, this added many more months to the project. And then I discovered that we were going to be moving, and this project got packed into the box labelled unfinished projects and abandoned dreams.

Finally, inspired by all the talk on etsy of knitting and spinning, and wool fibres in spun and unspun forms I decided it was time for me to finish this project. I found the box that it was packed in and pulled it out. As I walked toward my studio table I looked at the scarf and I thought "I don't remember this scarf being quite so short". Well, I was right. Turns out that the loose end of the yarn had gotten tangled up with some bits and bobs in the bottom of the box and as I walked away the stitched unraveled. Gah... well at least it gave me an opportunity to practice my stitches before I needed to mull over the headscratcher of adding that darned second skein.

I went out that day and bought a new pair of needles and asked for basic guidance on how to re-attach the scarf to the needles. Away I went. I pulled out a book at home that showed basic technique, and reminded myself how to do the knit stitch. Looking good. Then came the point where I had to attach the new one. I tried following the directions in the book. It didn't work. I tried a different way, it didn't work. So in the end I tied a knot, pretended it wasn't there and carried on. Luckily, this is a very knobbly wool and the knot blended in fairly well. The true test will be how it holds up once worn.

Long story short, (hmmm, well that was still a long story) I finished the scarf. I rocked the binding off test. I was so impressed with myself! And here is the end result.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that this first effort did not necessarily yield the prettiest result. Apart from the giant knot that I stuffed in to hide, there is also a bit of a wave through the scarf. It seems that I learned how to tighten up my stitch when I re-started the scarf and you can see where the scarf narrows. It may not be very evident in the photo, but it is definitely there.

With this project behind me, I wasted no time starting a new one. The yarn is pretty much the same as that used for the first project, but the colour is a softer, watery blue.

I was determined to not have this project drag on for 17 months, and I am pleased to say that I blew through my first skein during a few stolen moments over a rainy long weekend. The stitches seem much tighter and more even so far. But, hhhmmmm, now I am at that awkward moment where I need to attach the second skein. Someday I may post the results. In the meantime, here is the progress to date.