Weekend Edition

Magazine displayI can’t believe how long it’s been since I posted my last Weekend Edition. I guess it’s true that life sometimes gets in the way of fun. But I can no longer wait to share with you all a few inspiring ideas I have come across lately. I hope you will indulge in a little site surfing with me!

  • Although the countdown to Christmas has already begun, and the stress of shopping and decorating has officially set in, I try to make every day count with a special little gift. Here are 7 Awesome Advent Calendars that can help make every day of the holidays bright.
  • I understand that not everyone can afford the lifestyle peddled by the perennially pert Gwyneth Paltrow (yes, I went there!), but why not raise a glass to a delicious holiday cocktail or tasty treats that won’t break the bank.
  • Finally, curl up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate and flip through the best Christmas Gift Catalogue of the year. Thanks Neiman Marcus, I know what I’ll be dreaming about tonight!

Enjoy your weekend!

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Historic Alton Mill

Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonWith beautiful weekends dwindling quickly, the boy and I like to take advantage of all the sunny days, colourful landscapes, and dry roads that crop up. So on a recent long weekend, my feet got itchy for another funventure drive somewhere we’ve never explored. With only gps coordinates to my most recent discovery, we set off on a drive to Caledon. Our final destination was a heritage building known as the Alton Mill Art Centre.

On the banks of Shaw’s Creek, and housing artist studios, galleries, a museum, shop and cafe, it was the perfect destination for a sunny weekend drive. Only steps from the luxurious vintage hotel and spa of Millcroft Inn and numerous lush forests, it’s very easy to make this area of Caledon a romantic overnight stop, but it’s also just a 2 hour drive from London.Gallery windows, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonGallery space, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonDetail of exterior door, Alton Mill Art Centre, Caledon Art studio, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonTurkey sculpture, Alton Mill Art Centre, Caledon    Paintings, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonArtist studio, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonLandscape art, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonPaintings for sale, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonOutdoor tree sculpture, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonCobblestones and Cappuccinos, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonArtist studio, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonMill museum, Alton Mill Art Centre, Caledon   Outdoor face sculture, Alton Mill Art Centre, Caledon  The Mill houses a small museum dedicated to its more than 130 year history. Established in 1881 and originally known as the Beaver Knitting Mill, it was renowned across Canada for producing fleece-lined long underwear (a Canadian winter must!). The building escaped the great Alton flood of 1889 but was struck by fire in 1908. After rebuilding, the Mill had many industrial incarnations until its present day and remains one of only two 19th century mills still standing in the area (there used to be 12).  Mill mechanics, Museum, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonMill mechanics detail, Museum, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonMill mechanics, Museum, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonFlowers, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonCourtyard, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonHistoric plaque, Alton Mill Art Centre, Caledon  Outdoor cafe seating, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonMill pond with kinetic sculpture, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonExterior, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonLivery exterior walls, Alton Mill Art Centre, CaledonOutbuilding at Alton Mill, CaledonInspired by all the art around me, I just had to get creative with a little snap I took of us at the Mill.  Posterized portrait of Cobblestones and CappuccinosOur experience at Alton Mill has definitely put it on our favourite list of “Fall Drives”. Hope you take the time to visit.

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Steed & Company Lavender – Sparta

Steed and Company farm shop, SpartaEver since returning from my French adventure this summer, I have been feeling a little nostalgic for quaint European charm and enveloping scents that stir up precious memories. It’s one of the reason French women fill their lives with beautiful perfumes – one reminds them of an ex-lover, another of the new one, and yet the third of one still to come (oh la la!). So on the most recent sunny September weekend, I packed up the boy and went in search of my field of dreams – lavender!

Just 20 minutes from London, outside of the tiny historical village of Sparta, sits Steed & Company Lavender farm. It’s one of a number of beautiful lavender farms that dot southwestern and central Ontario and fill the air with a wonderful calming fragrance. I stepped out of the car with big expectations of purple fantasies…and I quickly learned two things: lavender blooms in June/July, and there are many varieties of lavender, English being a much more popular cultivation than French.

Steed and Company small garden, SpartaLavender shrubs, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender flowers, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender field, Steed and Company, SpartaHence, we were greeted by tiny green shrubs laid out in geometric rows with only a sprinkle of the precious purple blooms. However, we found a few other things that fed my fragrant fantasies…beginning with some lavender ice cream!

Lavender shop, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender ice cream cart, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender sachets, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender cookbook and cookies, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender preserves, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender honey, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender soap, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender conditioner, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender gift sets, Steed and Company, SpartaAnd just at the entrance to the farm, I found another piece of magical real estate!

Enchanted forest sign, Steed and Company, SpartaEnchanted Forest clearing, Steed and Company, SpartaEnchanted Forest art, Steed and Company, SpartaFairy house, Steed and Company, SpartaFairy house, Steed and Company, SpartaFairy house, Steed and Company, SpartaAlthough I was disappointed in missing the purple lavender fields, I look forward to catching them next summer (it’s already in the calendar!) and I hope I’ve inspired you guys to make the short trip to Sparta.

In the meantime, I will be enjoying my jar of lavender honey which I picked up on the way out!

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Roasted Potato and Mushroom Salad

Roasted potato and mushroom salad on spinach and arugula with hemp seedOne of my favourite things about trying new dishes in restaurants is attempting to recreate the ones I enjoyed at home (not always with success, unfortunately).

On a recent girls’ lunch in Toronto, celebrating 10 years of an amazing friendship, I had the opportunity to vist Harvest Kitchen, a place where vegetarians bring their meat eating friends (in their own words). Although I am a carnivore through and through, the beautiful veg-based options bowled me over and I tried quite a few!  The ones that stood out for me immediately were the ‘Meatless Meatballs’ and the ‘Mushroom French Fry Salad’. I definitely thought the latter was worth recreating at home.

The resulting salad, my version, was a huge hit with the boy. A mouthwatering mixture of warm crisp potatoes and salty mushrooms on a bed of fresh greens. It has now become a staple of our Meatless Mondays and I thought I’d share it with you all. With a few substitutions you can make it truly vegetarian or gluten free.

3 large yukon gold potatoes
2 Tbsp duck fat (substitute olive oil for vegetarian version)
1/2 lbs of button mushrooms
1 tsp soy sauce (substitute tamari for GF version)
2 cups baby arugula 
2 cups baby spinach
2 Tbsp of mayo (substitute for vegetarian version here
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic (grated)
1 tsp hemp seeds (optional for garnish)
 
Prep time: 10-15 minutes     Cook time: 35-40 minutes (mostly roasting time)
 

1. Place roasting pan in the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees Celsius.

2. Peel and roughly cube potatoes into small uneven pieces.

3. Remove the roasting pan from oven and add 1.5 Tbsp of duck fat, spreading it around the pan. Then throw in the potatoes, coat with fat, and return to the oven.

*Roasting time will depend on your oven but may take approximately 40 minutes. Don’t forget to stir the potatoes once or twice during roasting for even crisping.Roasted potatoes 4. Slice mushrooms and place in pan with 1/2 Tbsp of duck fat and the soy sauce on medium heat. Keep cooking until all liquid evaporates and continue to caramelize and brown the mushrooms.Roasted mushrooms in a pan5. Wash the spinach and arugula and place in mixing bowl.Baby spinach and arugula in a bowl6. Place mayo, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and grated garlic in a small bowl and stir to combine. Olive oil and garlic mayo dressingMixed mayo and olive oil dressing7. Once the potatoes are roasted and mushrooms are browned, combine all warm ingredients in a bowl with the greens and cover with dressing. Roasted potato and mushroom salad topped with dressingTossing roasted potato and mushroom salad8.Toss to combine and plate. Sprinkle with hemp seeds for a little extra protein.Roasted potato and mushroom salad with hemp seedsI want to dedicate this post to two special ladies that always keeping me laughing. And yes, my smile does sparkle that much when I’m with these two!Cobblestones and Cappuccinos and friends.I hope you enjoy and give this delicious salad a try. And if you’re in Toronto, pop into Harvest Kitchen for those meatballs!

Door Knockers of Malta and Gozo

Lion head knocker on red door, MaltaThere is one more thing I have to share with all of you from my trip to the magnificent islands of Malta and Gozo. At every turn, and down every street, beautiful knockers dot the doors of Maltese buildings like opulent jewels. Known as “Il-Habbata” many are intricate works of art in bronze and brass.

The sea-faring nature of the island is reflected in many of the motifs like dolphins, seahorses, and sirens. But you will also find faces, coats of arms, and animals. More importantly both the knocker and the colour of the door, some dating hundreds of years, represent the personality and taste of the home owner. And based on some of my examples, I would be more than happy to make their acquaintance.Brass hexagon door knocker, MaltaBronze angel knocker on wood door, MaltaCoat of arms knocker on red door, Mdina, MaltaPig head knocker on red door, Valletta, MaltaEagle knocker on pink door, MaltaLion head knocker on purple door, GozoAngel head bronze knocker on wood door with studs, Valletta, MaltaDetail of angel knocker on wood door, Valletta, MaltaBronze dolphins and Malta Cross knocker on wood door, MaltaBacchus face knocker on green door, GozoBrass Bacchus face knocker on cream door, GozoBrass Bacchus face door on brown door, GozoBronze creature face knocker on white door, GozoDolphin knockers on blue door, GozoBronze stylized dolphin on blue door, Valletta, MaltaBrass circle door knockers, MaltaStylized dolphin on purple door, Valletta, MaltaGirl Scout clover knocker on navy door, Valletta, MaltaBrass mythical creature knocker on wood door, MaltaBronze mythical creature knocker on wood door, MaltaThere are many more whimsical knockers and colourful doors than I could possibly include in this post. I encourage you to discover them yourself on a trip to to the mystical island of Malta.