Sisters Trip to Amsterdam! / October 1, 2015

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Get ready for many many many pictures of boats, canals, and bikes. Then some more pictures of boats, canals, and bikes. Amsterdam was such a magical place to visit that I thought I would share a little peek at what my sister and I had a chance to see over our three day trip:

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Our first stop the day we arrived was dinner at Pancakes Amsterdam. That’s right, pancakes for dinner and I wouldn’t change a thing. We ordered ours with bacon and apple (so good!) and then an order of poffertjes (tiny pancakes dusted in powdered sugar) to split for dessert. It’s quite a tiny place with no reservations accepted and is only open until 7pm, so it’s probably best to go early if you decide to go the breakfast for dinner route like we did! I almost went back another day, it was that good.

After that we walked to the Anne Frank House, which isn’t too far away and as you would anticipate is lined up at all times — we decided to try for the next night around 7pm in the hopes of a slighly shorter line (that’s the best time to go according to our hotel). To say that visiting the Anne Frank House was an incredibly moving experience is an understatement, it is well worth a visit.

The next day we headed bright and early to a few of the museums, which are all located near each other. First up was The Rijksmuseum, where we had a beautiful lunch in their atrium upstairs and I admired the tiny tiny details of the “children’s playhouses”:

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The Van Gogh Museum was also very beautiful. I’d recommend to go early in the day or try to book advanced tickets – we didn’t know our schedule for the day and chose to just wing it and ended up standing outside in the midday sun for quite some time! While standing in line we overheard a guard say that usually after dinner there isn’t a wait at all.

The Stedelijk Museum was another highlight, which we visited for the Matisse exhibit (also pictured, the stairwell in the museum, which I loved just as much as the Matisse exhibit. Seriously, simplicity at its very best).

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Nearby is the Heineken Experience tour, which was kindly recommended to us by our sister. It was really fun to do if you are in the area – I loved seeing all of the copper vats and the pretty typography of Heineken along the tour.

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A quick mention about some more of the food we ate: at breakfast each morning I’d have the apple juice (appelsap) which I loved since it was more like cider, but even better if you can believe it. Alongside our Heinekens one night we had bitterballen (little fried croquettes with beef and potatoes) overlooking a beautiful canal, Prinsengracht. We also couldn’t resist a pit stop for stroopwafels one day at Stroopwafel Heaven (located quite close to the Anne Frank House in case you’re looking for a snack for the long lines!). You could seriously smell the scents of the waffels from outside and the woman who worked there couldn’t have been sweeter. Plus, the blue & white wallpaper?! Can you tell I LOVED it there?!

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The next day we took a canal tour, which was so wonderful since you get to see all of the houseboats and homes from a lower vantage point, and to see all of the locals and their families and friends cruising alongside you in their boats.

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Last but not least we rented bikes and rode through Vondelpark! It was a bit nerve-wracking to say the least considering I haven’t really ridden a bike since I was a kid, but the park was absolutely beautiful to see (while clutching my handlebars in mild panic. just kidding. The winding roads through the park were quite wide and accommodated my random swerving to the left and right quite nicely, I would say haha!).

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There really are so many people biking everywhere in Amsterdam, it was so inspiring to watch, especially the families riding with their very young children — sometimes one on the front and one seated at the back of the bike. It is definitely a city with very fit people!

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Hope you enjoyed my little look at Amsterdam — it’s such a beautiful city that I hope to be lucky enough to return to some day! Up next, a tour of Copenhagen and Stockholm. More bikes & more beauty everywhere you look. I hope to post those very soon!

Weekend Links! / September 4, 2015

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Let’s all just take a minute to appreciate my cute little niece showing off pattern mixing & matching at its finest, shall we?

Now that we’ve done that, here are a few weekend links to kick off the (unofficial) last weekend of summer! This one is going to be a mix of summery things and fall things I’ve come across lately — it’s odd, despite experiencing an end of summer heat wave here, you can still just feel fall in the air these days. My favourite season (and the favourite of lots of us, it seems!) is upon us.

Without further ado…

I cannot seem to get enough peaches this time of year, and this peach margarita by Baker By Nature looks especially delicious!

I finally got around to watching Chef’s Table on Netflix and chose the episode with Magnus Nilsson to watch first, which I can’t recommend highly enough. It is such an interesting look into the running of a teeny tiny restaurant in Northern Sweden (seriously tiny, 12 seats!). Entertainment Weekly gives even more reasons to watch right here.

The perfect transition to fall weather recipe spotted on Pinterest the other day: roasted tomatoes with goat cheese polenta by Pinch of Yum.

Speaking of the change of seasons, a really fascinating post by Ashley of Hither & Thither talking about a positive relationship between the change of seasons and our level of happiness. I’ve always loved living in a country with four very distinct seasons, but around February each year this love starts to dwindle – I’m going to try my hardest to remember this post in the middle of winter this year!

10 last-minute Labour Day getaways. Super last-minute now, I guess! But it’s always nice to daydream, if nothing else.

Last but not least, it would be a travesty to not mention ice cream as the sunny warm days are coming to a close. They call it “The Only Ice Cream Recipe You’ll Ever Need” and from the picture it looks like it definitely lives up to its promise. Can’t wait to give it a try!

Happy reading & Happy Labour Day!

It’s The Little Things: Slickers Ice Cream / July 30, 2015

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Butter tart ice cream.

Enough said? Pretty much. This company is new to me, but I am so very glad it was a recent discovery this summer — it’s called Slickers Ice Cream and they are located in Bloomfield, Prince Edward County. (Their new website is coming soon — so no retailers are currently listed, but we purchased ours at Dags & Willow in Collingwood for those closer to that area). A little bit of background on the company, which makes each small batch using mostly local ingredients.

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It went fast, people, it went fast. The was no time for dilly dallying.

Now please excuse me while I hop in the car, I just checked Instagram and it appears as though they also have a creme brulee flavour.

Tiny Bubbles & Weekend Links! / July 10, 2015

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I picked up this Gazillion Bubbles Monsoon machine recently and I am not exaggerating when I say it is pretty much the greatest thing ever invented. The greatest thing for a 4 year old and his 2 year old sisters, and the greatest thing for their much older aunt. (Though my nephew did ask yesterday if I was 6 years old, because to him that is OLD.) It was so much fun to watch them run around after the bubbles in the backyard this week — oh, to be a kid in the summertime.

Have a great weekend, and here are a few links I’ve found lately:

Blender lemonade? Definitely giving this a try this weekend!

Really enjoyed this article on 8 Canadian Superfoods — wild blueberries, yum!

Found this strawberry mango breakfast smoothie on Pinterest the other day via Sally’s Baking Addiction — pretty much summer in a cup!

Also spied on Pinterest, this pretty view! Noted.

Also noted, the blue lagoon in Iceland. I keep seeing pictures on Instagram and it looks pretty incredible!

Last but not least, a toast to summer, these strawberry champagne cocktails via Food52

Happy Friday!!

Watermelon Birthday Party! / June 17, 2015

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Two very special little ladies, my nieces, turned two recently and their watermelon birthday party was just too fun not to share on the blog! A few photos below, including the pinata my sister and her husband made (still can’t believe they made it!), plus the sugar cookies my sister made for the loot bags (she might disown me for putting a picture up here, due to the slightly wonky icing that didn’t turn out as she’d planned, but they were so good, so who cares?! Plus, who doesn’t want a mother who would stay up late baking and icing cookies for your party? She’s a keeper, that one). Last but not least, the girls and all their friends in their little sun hats. No explanation needed, just cuteness all around.

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For the birthday cakes my sister and I ultimately decided on one cake in the shape of a watermelon and one to coordinate in pink, green and white. I used the cake from this completely adorable party as a guideline. In the second picture, note that not just one but both of my nieces are about to take a swipe of the icing. Sneaky little ladies.

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Such a wonderful day celebrating these two girls — they both radiate such sunshine and happiness, those two little ladies, sunshine and happiness.

Links for the weekend! / May 29, 2015

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Here are some delicious/fascinating/fun things I’ve come across this week — Happy Friday & Happy Reading!!

This recipe was recently brought to my attention & sounds like just the ticket for an easy weekend treat. I’ve tried making banana ice cream in a Vitamix before and it was a so easy and so good. This pina colada version sounds even better! (Truth be told, a few friends and I once spent an entire Friday night making smoothies and banana ice cream and watching Vitamix how-to videos and it was pretty much one of my favourite nights ever. Nerd alert? You betcha.)

Sign me up for one of these smoothie bowls!

These rhubarb and almond hand pies are such a lovely and elegant dessert idea — from the always inspiring Donna Hay!

I’ve been on a beet kick lately (those are words I never thought I’d say!) and this drink from Drizzle & Dip looks so refreshing!

This week I came across an interesting & somewhat surprising article on the best foods for you. Dear Watercress, I’ve always passed by you in the grocery store, but seems like you’re worth another look! Dear Raspberries, you may not have made the cut, but you’re still my very favourite.

And lastly, just for fun — Jellyfish Lake — a place to go snorkeling amongst a sea of completely harmless jellyfish — so fascinating!

Have a great weekend :)

NYC Weekend & Food Photography Workshop! / May 15, 2015

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I recently returned from a long weekend in New York, where I went to attend a food photography workshop at Sunday Suppers led by Aran Goyoaga. I have wanted to attend a workshop with Aran for quite some time but apparently many others share that same wish and they sell out quite quickly! Luckily, I nabbed one of the spots and I am so glad I was able to. I couldn’t stop staring at the beautiful kitchen pictured above at Sunday Suppers — everything they prepared was delicious and the space, with its beautiful light and lofty ceilings, was so wonderfully suited for a photography workshop. I thought I would share some pictures of the weekend, if you’d like to see! Pictured below: the prop table of my dreams; Aran at work styling heirloom carrots, which I couldn’t help but snap a photo of; lastly, my styling of tiny purple artichokes, after which we all had a chance to get some much welcomed feedback from Aran on our photos & styling. All in all a wonderful workshop, I can’t recommend it highly enough!

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After the two-day workshop I was able to sneak in some time to visit a few things on my list in NYC — once I signed up for the workshop, my mom and I decided to make a long weekend girls trip out of it, and I was a lucky lady to spend a few days in the city with her. We saw magnolias in Central Park; a stop at the MOMA and it’s beautiful courtyard (this Picasso statue of a goat had me singing High On A Hill Was A Lonely Goatherd for days and days). We also stopped into the Todd English Food Hall where I discovered that Shirley Temple soda exists (!!!!); we popped into a few tiny shops like Le Labo for perfume and Fishs Eddy for dishware; a stop by another favourite — the Flatiron Building, which we stopped to see after dinner at Eataly. (There are no words to adequately describe the wonder that is Eataly, so I won’t even try — so so good.)

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Thank you New York, you were so lovely!

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Mascarpone & Lemon Fruit Dip! / April 23, 2015

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Growing up, we moved houses when I was around six, but I remember two things about our very first backyard: 1) there was a thin patch of grass beside the house that sloped downhill — ideal for Slip ‘n’ Slide waterslide parties as a kid. 2) we had a small vegetable garden with rhubarb, and my sisters and I loved to eat it fresh from the garden dipped into a little bowl of sugar. Not a healthy snack exactly considering that the ratio of rhubarb-to-sugar was more along the lines of lots of sugar to a teeny bit of rhubarb. So not surprisingly, it’s still one of my favourite memories growing up, sitting outside in the grass with the rhubarb in the early days of Summer after sliding down that yellow Slip ‘n’ Slide in my Kermit the frog bathing suit (yep, you read that right). I decided the other day to purchase rhubarb when I spotted it looking all pretty on the shelves, and thought I should see if I could come up with something a little fancier than dunking it in sugar. The dip that comes with fruit trays from the grocery store is usually a crowd pleaser, and here is my version:

Mascarpone & Lemon Fruit Dip:
1/2 cup softened mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp sugar (or honey to taste if you prefer)
lemon zest to sprinkle on top

It’s great with the rhubarb, or for any fruit, really — it’s also lovely with strawberries and pineapple. Enjoy!! (I included a picture below of the rhubarb and sugar just for old times sake. Not pictured: my Kermit bathing suit. But it was a winner I tell you, a winner.)

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Easter Baking Round-Up! / April 2, 2015

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This particular round-up was inspired by a specific cookie I spied on Pinterest and needed to share:

I give you, the bunny butt cookie. You’re welcome.

Camille Styles’ list of 15 brunch recipes is wonderful — I would be happy to make anything on the list but the rhubarb tart is especially beautiful!

Last Easter, my sister and I whipped up these bunny pancakes from Taste of Home for our nephew. Our bunnies didn’t really turn out quite like that (our pancake flipping skills need some work), but my nephew loves pancakes so much I don’t think he even noticed. Pancakes in bunny form to a three year old = best Aunts ever.

Easter Egg cookie dough truffles!!! I’ll take anything in cookie dough form at any time, please and thank you. These look like a cinch to make (no actual baking, just assembling), and would be great for a last-minute holiday dessert.

Vibrant and beautiful sweet potato spudnuts from the always-creative ladies of Spoon Fork Bacon.

A classic that I spotted on Averie Cooks recently, a recipe for easy yellow cake with light pink buttercream frosting. This is such a great recipe to have for Easter and to have on hand year-round!

Last but not least, it’s only right that while you bake these things you have a mimosa in hand, right? These Strawberry & Grapefruit Mimosas would definitely do the trick!

Hope you enjoy the links, and thanks again for visiting!

Mango, Pineapple & Coconut Smoothie! / March 12, 2015

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This smoothie packs quite a tropical punch, between the mango, pineapple, ginger and coconut flavours, hence the use of the margarita glass in this photo. No, I definitely didn’t drink this smoothie first thing in the morning in a margarita glass, sitting on my blue couch and pretending it was the ocean. No, I definitely didn’t do anything silly like that. Here’s the recipe, enjoy & feel free to bust out those tiny drink umbrellas if you’d like! They make any drink better.

Mango, Pineapple & Coconut Smoothie (Serves 2):

1 1/3 cups coconut water
1 cup diced pineapple
1 1/2 cups frozen mango pieces
The juice of half of a lime
1 tsp coconut oil, melted*
1/4 tsp grated fresh ginger

Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high until smooth. Once blended, take the plastic cap off of the lid of the blender and slowly drizzle in melted coconut oil while blender is running (*be sure to melt the coconut oil, if not it tends to clump once it hits the cold smoothie). Cheers!!