seedy sunday

This Sunday Steve and I did our annual visit to Seedy Sunday. It’s always an exciting time of year because it gets me thinking about spring with the anticipation that in fact winter will not last forever.

Before heading to the exchange we took stock of our seed inventory.

Steve sketched up a little map of our garden boxes to figure out what we plan on growing in our garden this summer. He even made a list of specific seeds to purchase to fill in the gap in our inventory. But despite this list and our amply stocked inventory, when I got to the seed exchange, as per usual, I reverted back to kid-in-candy-store mode and went seed crazy.

What made me really happy, despite being surrounded by seeds and promises of spring, was that this year’s exchange had a little coffee stall from Homegrown Coffee! It offered the perfect afternoon kick, which is just what I needed.

I indulged in my second coffee of the day and with our new seed purchases we hit the road.

secret heart

I’m not someone who does a crazy amount of planning for special occasions. But I do often have little mini ideas mapped out in my head for treats that can easily be cooked up at any given time.

For this year’s Valentine’s Day I picked up a few gifts locally for some little surprises for my Valentine.

We love coffee at our house and since being home full-time I’ve seen my coffee consumption double! Steve, as of late, has been branching off from our traditionally consumed French-pressed coffee to espressos. So I thought I would indulge in his new coffee interest and get him a cute one-shot stove-top espresso maker. I picked one up from Faema on James North. They’ve got a pretty good selection of espresso machines, with a not-bad retro looking used one that we might actually be able to afford -eeek! If we end up getting it, it’ll soon be lattes and espressos all day long chez nous!

I also stopped by Ola Bakery for some Portuguese sweets. Ola has some lovely fluffy, flaky baked goods (and I’ve heard they do a great sandwich too).

As a Valentine’s mid-morning surprise I managed to put this spread together with a quickly crafted homemade Valentine’s Day card. Steve’s been really busy at work so it was nice to be able to share a quick coffee break midday in his at-home office while Omi napped.

I executed this next surprise Valentine’s treat that Steve has still yet to discover.

I recently saw a cute DIY post on Design Sponge about patching little moth eaten holes in sweaters with felted hearts. I really need to invest in some lavender sachets or a cedar something or another but I haven’t and so Steve and I both have a couple of sweaters with a few sad moth munched holes in them.

So besides needing a sweater with a hole, you’ll also need some felting wool and felting needles. I picked mine up from Needlework on James North.

You’ll also need 2 sponges to stack under the sweater for when you’re jabbing your wool with the needle. That way you won’t give yourself multiple stab wounds.

Next make a little stencil for the shape and size of the felted patch that you want. Flip your sweater so that you start felting your patch on the reverse side. Take a nice size bit of wool and start to felt away!

Once the shape is pretty solid from the reverse side, turn your sweater right side out. You should see the shape of the heart clearly. Take smaller and thinner pieces of wool to shape the heart and felt it until the heart looks nice and full.

I practiced first on my sweater with this red heart and did Steve’s hearts with grey wool. I thought the grey hearts on his grey sweater would be more subtle as I wasn’t so sure how he’d feel having bright red hearts felted everywhere.

Can’t wait for the day when he pulls the sweater out of the closet to wear and sees a few cute little grey hearts on his sleeve. Until then, shhh -don’t say a word.

not a pancake

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again my favourite meal of the day is…. brunch!

I know it’s Pancake Tuesday and everything, however, this post isn’t about pancakes but about my latest brunch discovery the croque madame.

To make this decadent brunch treat you need a fresh loaf of French bread. Slice it up and get it ready for some classic pan-fried French toast.

For every 5 slices of bread I use 2 eggs and about 1 cup of milk. I usually mix into the eggs a pinch of cinnamon and an even tinier pinch of clove powder. Slide a small pad of butter onto the pan and start French toasting away. If you want your French toast to be a little sweet sprinkle a bit of sugar on the side that’s up and hasn’t been flipped yet. Voila! Fluffy golden brown French toast.

Once you have your French toasts toasted you’re going to sandwich it up. First, spread a thin layer of dijon mustard  (I used a lovely maple dijon mustard & that little bit of sweetness was just right), then a slice or two of black forest ham and a generous amount of grated Swiss, gruyere or Emmantal cheese. Close up your sandwich with another piece of French toast. Heat up your oven to 400.

Next prepare your béchamel sauce. Which consists of butter, flour, milk and cheese with a pinch of salt, pepper, and nutmeg. I used a béchamel sauce recipe from here.

Top your sandwich with the béchamel sauce and add a generous sprinkle of cheese on top. Then bake in the oven until the top is golden brown (about 10 minutes).

What’s in the oven is a complete croque monsieur. You can leave it at just that OR you can take it one notch up and add a poached or fried egg atop of the sandwich to make it a croque madame, which is what I did.

croque monsieur -a baked french toast sandwich with ham, swiss cheese and béchamel cream sauce.

 

So, while these beauties are browning and melting in the oven, get your eggs poaching or frying. I did my eggs fried sunny-side up, and garnished with some market fresh thick bacon.

Served this madame up with a nice light salad, oven roasted tomatoes and pan-fried crisp potato medallions.

cap’n cootes

On the occasions when I decide to take Plains Road into Hamilton from Burlington, I love taking that quick glance over across the bay towards Dundas. It’s a pretty picturesque view, all things considered, if you were to look to the opposite side of the T.B. McQuesten High Level Bridge the view would be of smoke stacks and steel mills. Truly I think the view of Cootes Paradise towards Dundas from the bridge is one of the more breathtaking views of Southern Ontario. You can see the curve of the escarpment, the marshy bay and what seems to be virtually untouched nature for miles and miles.

The Thomas B. McQuesten High Level Bridge was built during the 1930's. It was originally called Hamilton High Level Bridge before being renamed after Thomas McQuesten, who was an upstanding Hamilton citizen that resided in the historic Whitehern house.

view of Cootes Paradise from T.B. McQuesten Bridge

view of Princess Point from T.B. McQueston Bridge

Over the weekend we decided to get out an embrace the winter weather and take a walk through Cootes Paradise.

Mainly, I really wanted to get an up-close and personal look of the bay in its frozen solid form. I always notice the little silhouettes of people skating and playing hockey out on the bay in winter from the highway and I have these wistfull dreams that one day I might be that person down there skating away. Well, I currently don’t own skates and Omi being so little, I think we’re still a ways off from passing a puck around or doing double axels on that natural winter-made Ontario-bay ice.

So a winter walk it was… right through some of my favourite Hamilton landscapes.

Our walk began from the RBG Arboretum entrance. I duly noted that in the spring we would have to make a return visit to see the massive lilac garden (apparently the largest in North America). After a bit of meandering we finally found the Captain Cootes Trail that hugged the bay and away we went!

We tried to venture out on the bay for a little while. There was a couple with their dogs walking out on the ice so it was a sign that the ice was strong enough to hold. But when I ventured out and heard the ice crack under my feet I decided to play it safe. I’ve been told that the water on the bay is really shallow so it doesn’t take much of a cold snap to freeze it solid. I wasn’t taking my chances that day.

A bit ambitious to be out walking in the cold minus 10 degree whether. So when Omi’s little chubby baby cheeks were feeling cold and getting all rosied up, we called it a day and headed back.

moulin rouge

Since Jeff Feswick of Historia Restoration bought Treble Hall a few years ago (see my post on Treble Hall here) I have been waiting in great anticipation to see how this grand old beauty would be restored and who/what would occupy the street-level retail space once all shiny and refurbished.

On a regular basis I purposely detour my walks home to see the on-going progress of Treble Hall.

April 2011

June 2012

One rainy day I noticed that a set of red curtains and crystal chandeliers had appeared in the northern two storefronts of the building.

December 2012

January 2013

Moulin Rouge -a French inspired café and high-end boutique is soon to open its doors! I really, really hope that they have macarons and deliciously good croissants!

 

*Moulin Rouge -Café & Boutique, 10-12 John St. North, 905.220.2652

 

 

the needle emporium

So I’m not really a knitter. Which is precisely why I signed up for a toque knitting class at Needlework.

To prepare for the class I had to brush up a little on my knits and pearls and I also had to pick up some yarn.

A while back I posted about a knit store called Fire Ball Knits that was in Westdale, which has since closed up shop. So let it be known that downtown Hamilton does not have a knit shop (yet).  I’m sure it’ll be no time until someone gets in on this minor gap in the market of downtown knit shops. But until then the closest knit shop for me is in Ancaster at the Needle Emporium.

It was my first visit to the Emporium, and although I wasn’t able to explore in the shop for too long I did love that it was in old Ancaster. I got to take a nice winter scenic drive up the mountain and sneak some peaks at some of the old surrounding buildings on Wilson St. I loved the old stone building exteriors of many of the neighbouring shops.

 

old stone building -Masonic Lodge, Wilson St. East

Inside, The Needle Emporium is ram packed with a variety of wool in all different shapes, shades, textures and colours. It was a tight squeeze with Omi in a stroller walking amidst walls of yarn so I took just a quick look around, bought my required wool and headed back home.

I would like to come back another time to get a better look at their yarn selection. Once I get this whole ‘how to knit’ thing figured out I’m sure I”ll make a trip back up the mountain to pour over all my knit purchase options.

In the end I narrowed down my yarn selection for my toque to Madeline Tosh‘s hand-died yarn (in charcoal) or something a little brighter. In the past most of my toques have mostly been black so I thought I’d forgo the charcoal and opt for a super colourful ball of Drops Big Delight.

In hindsight I wished I’d gone for the Madeline Tosh. Once I successfully finish knitting my first ever toque I’ll be gunning back for the hand-died charcoal.

*The Needle Emporium, 420 Wilson St. East, Ancaster, 905.648.1994

a cameron cut

A while ago I was fortunate enough to win an amazing prize from the ladies from Sweet Ice Snow Cones. My prize included some super fab items like… a fabric pack from Needlework, a hot dog from Weenies, a Sweet Ice Snow Cone tote PLUS a snow cone AND a haircut from none other than Cameron Elder of Mckinnon Hair Design! It was such a stellar prize.

I’ve posted before about how I’m super lazy when it comes to “doing” my hair. I’ll grow it out long and then do nothing with it. I thought that if the only thing that I was going to do all winter was toss my hair in a pony and wear it in a hat then I might as well just chop off my unruly mop and have something a little more sassy and fun to sport around -right? Plus with the addition of little tiny baby Omi hands starting to reach and pull at my locks I figured it was time to cash in on that free Cameron Elder haircut.

I’d seen Cameron do some pretty sleek and arty haircuts during multiple art crawls in various James Street North storefront windows. I had even gotten a quickie $20 street cut from Cameron out front of O’s Clothes during Supercrawl, which I loved!  So I was pretty confident that although I am a mom and getting a short haircut I’d be guaranteed not to end up with a total mom cut.

Before the cut I showed Cameron a picture of a short hairstyle I’d been eyeing on Pinterest. He did a little consult with me asking me what were the particular features of the cut that I really liked.

I loved how Cameron did this because it made me reflect a little more about why I liked the cut and what I could potentially expect to get with a cut like this on my own head. It made me feel confident that we were on the same page.

I really liked how Cameron incorporated the shape and texture of the cut from the picture. It’s been super easy to take care of and it’s warmed me up to having short hair again. Perhaps the next cut I get I’ll go even shorter! Eeeek!

Thanks Cameron! I adore my new haircut!

You can follow Cameron on twitter @cameronelder but also be sure to check out his video -very cool.

 

*Mckinnon Hair Design, 111 Balsam Avenue South, 905.544.6601

3 months

Three months have come and gone and this little guy just keeps on growing -who knew.

Despite the winter I still manage to get out and about for walks and errands downtown and I am still absolutely loving spending my days with Omi and watching him grow and change so quickly.

He’s already starting to cut his first few little teeth and is drooling like a faucet (hence the bibs).

We’ve been fortunate to inherit most if not all of Omi’s clothes from various friends and have honestly not had to purchase a single piece of clothing yet. Lisa, Max and Dave thanks so much for providing this super cute outfit that Omi is sporting in this picture.

nesting

It’s no coincidence that Steve’s latest art show is called Nesting. Possible inspiration from his real life? He sure did a lot of nesting during the last few months. Before Omi’s arrival Steve threw himself into multiple reno projects building the appropriate cozy “nest” and home for us and the little guy.

I won’t talk too much about Steve’s work for the show because you should go check it out yourself. It does however involve a whole ton of pool noodles, a little bit of skipping rope and plywood.

The show is at Hamilton Artists Inc. in the member’s gallery. Steve’s work will be showing along side artist Teal Booth. In the main gallery you should also check out the exhibit Story Bones by established Canadian artist Jack Butler.

The opening is on Thursday, January 10th from 7-9pm and the exhibit will run until February 3rd. You can also check out more of Steve’s work here on his artist website: stevenewberry.com

*Hamilton Artists Inc. 155 James St. North

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