Be Back Soon!

I've been taking a break before the end of the summer. It's back to school next week. I can't believe it. I've got some quilt content coming next week so come on back for a visit. Meanwhile, we went to the C.N.E. yesterday and it was lots of fun and fond memories. Funny how some things never change. As I walked along, I felt like that little girl attending the Ex for the first time with my dad. A lot of the vendors still sell the same things as they did then and the games, like the ring toss or balloon popping are still around.

We wandered over to Ontario Place too. I used to work there during the summer when I went to the University of Toronto. So many good memories there too.

This longneck dinosaur was new to us. The kids were in awe of its size. As always, the rocky shores of Lake Ontario are wonderfully relaxing and the breeze is always a cool comfort.

Our adventures are over and we'll be back to our usual routine. We've had a great summer and are sad to see it end. xo, L

Summer Fun

I'm excited to tell you that Inspiration should be in your local quilt shop very soon! I've designed a few projects with these fabrics and have had lots of fun with the prints. I can't wait to see what you'll do with the fabrics!

This lap quilt is going to be a free project for you soon. I love it. The blocks seem to swirl and twirl!

Oh how I've loved spending the summer with these rolls. We've had lots of fun together!

Speaking of summer fun. I can't believe that we'll be back to school so soon. We've had lots of summer fun filled with swimming, nature camp and birthday parties.

It's see you soon and back to work for me! xo, L

Simple Jam, Not So Simple Thoughts

Several people have asked me about the breakfast dish I prepared during my tv interview on Us Girls (yes, not-so-little old me on tv!). I realize now, in retrospect, that I didn’t really go into full gory detail about the interview, just to say when it was coming out and where. I didn’t think much of that then, but looking back, I suspect I must have been a little shy. It’s one thing to share your photos and thoughts to the whole world on a blog, or even have a photo of your face in a magazine, it’s quite another to have yourself moving and speaking in full Technicolor-vision on a tv screen!

When I got the email requesting for the interview I almost said no – tv? Me? Not likely. But I had been thinking about the premise behind this book lately. Do I say no too often? I don’t think so. In fact, I’d like to think I’m up for anything, and I usually am! But what if that anything just happens to be a something way outside my comfort zone? Will I still grab it with two hands and fly by the seat of my pants as I claim I like to do?

Deep thoughts.

So I found myself with those deep thoughts, looking at an email a lot of people would not have even blinked twice at (whether to say yes or no). And I decided to stop thinking and start doing.

And then I got really nervous and went out and bought a new dress.

See how good stuff happened almost immediately?

Then the shoot came and I had a ball! The staff of Us Girls were professional and thoughtful. The host was just this side of enchanting, and immediately put me at ease. We were shooting for an episode of the show called virtual life which featured people who, in one way or the other, were connected to the tech/cyber world. I also got to touch base with another blogger friend who I hadn’t seen in a long while (who was interviewed before me). During the segment, we talked about my blog, what it’s all about, how I started blogging and what I like about it (a lot!), and I prepared one breakfast dish. They asked for something easy to put together so I chose this yogurt parfait. It makes for a delicious, healthy breakfast that lends itself to many variations (you can use the fruits and preserves you have on hand) and a cinch to whip it looks nice.

So to those of you who were asking, you can find the method for the yogurt parfait here. Some were also asking what brand granola I use – although I don’t always have time to make my own, I urge you to try making homemade granola. It’s easy and leagues more delicious than anything you can buy in a store (plus you know for sure what goes in it). The recipe I use is here. You can make it ahead of time, store in an airtight container, and use whenever the mood strikes...which will be often, believe you me.

For the original parfait I used this blueberry syrup. For the show, however, I made some quick strawberry jam. Simple, quick jams are something I love to throw together. Let me just say here, before you think I am up to my elbows in fruits and jars and sterilization implements, I usually make small batches of jam...enough for roughly one bottle. I don’t go through the whole boiling of the bottles and sealing and what not either. I’m not storing up for the winter. I make the jam, pour it into a clean jar, and store in the fridge. It’s usually all gone after a week or so. It requires very little time and supervision, and will have you feeling like a proper domestic goddess without breaking a sweat, I promise you. Also, it goes without saying, homemade jam is a whole different world from store-bought in taste, and you have total control of what goes in and how sweet (or not) you want it.

No recipe for this, just a sort of loose method: I clean and weigh my fruits (peel, de-seed, and chop them too if needed depending on the fruit -- before weighing). I then toss the fruit in a non-reactive pot with sugar that weighs a little less. For example, for the Nectarine Plum Jam pictured here I had about 250 grams fruit (chopped and de-seeded weight) and I used about 170-180 grams sugar. Add a squeeze of lemon. Place on the hob and let cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and setting point is reached. For this amount it will not take too long. When done, pour into a clean jar and cool. Store in the refrigerator.

I test the setting point with the old saucer-in-freezer method: Place a saucer in the freezer while you are making you jam. When your jam looks like it’s thickened, take the saucer out and put a drop of jam on its surface. Now tilt the saucer...if the jam runs down the plate it’s not ready. It should catch and droop slowly...then push the jam lightly with your finger, it should wrinkle a bit.

It’s lovely travelling out of your comfort zone to enjoy the new things that await you there :) Even if you already grab every opportunity by the horns, try something that you typically wouldn’t do. You may be happily surprised! :)

Tomato Salad 3

Are you tired of tomatoes yet? I’m not :) I’ve been enjoying them a lot lately, much more actually than you see here. I’ve had this tomato salad with steak and this tomato salad with chicken. We have had even more in between.

You see, I don’t like tomatoes in my salads. But I love tomato salads! I’m funny that way. Since my last two posts however, it seems that a lot of you are funny that way too. Nice to know I’m in such great company! :)

So, I’ll share one last tomato salad before I move on. I hope you don’t mind terribly. Like the first two salads, this is blazingly simple to make but delicious nonetheless...highlighting the tomatoes' natural flavour.

Tomato Salad 3
  • 250-300 grams tomatoes (different sizes and colors are good -- of roughly the same volume)
  • 1 small red onion
  • A couple of sprigs each parsley and dill, leaves only, roughly chopped
  • 5 basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

- Slice the tomatoes in chunks – they don’t have to be the same shape, just approximately the same size.
- Slice the onion into thin half moons – as thin as you can manage.
- Toss onions, tomatoes, and chopped herbs together and dress with a couple of good glugs of olive oil and some dashes balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with sea salt (as good a finishing salt as you have – and don’t be shy about it) and freshly cracked black pepper. I always do this to taste but if you want a guide just use 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, toss, taste, and adjust. Toss don’t want battered tomatoes!

I know, I know...this is basically Tomato Salad 2 with herbs, and although almost painfully obvious (tomatoes + herbs = good), it’s still one of my favourites and I do feel I’d like to mark down my love for it here. The addition of greenery (herbs not lettuce!) really does make this an altogether different salad, adding its own layer of flavours that do a sprightly little dance, an altogether pleasant one I might add, around the tomatoes. I could eat this straight from the bowl with a spoon in one hand and a piece of crusty bread in the other.

I don’t always use the same set of herbs I’ve used here. In fact, each time I make this salad the number if herbs I use, and the combination thereof, changes. Cilantro, mint, culantro, thai basil, spring onions, chives, marjoram, chervil, lemon thyme. The possibilities are giddily endless! I usually toss in what I have on hand or fetch what I think would go well with whatever else we are eating.

Recently I bought a hefty tinapang bangus (smoked milkfish – one of my favourite types/preparations of fish ever. Period.) at the market, and we served it with the salad above, but switched all the herbs for cilantro – fish perfection! In fact, as far as we may be geographically, the cilantro version of this salad is our go-to siding for Filipino fish dishes and Mexican food (using a splash of red wine vinegar instead of the balsamic above). Gets on famously with both!

I’ve come to the end of my tomato salad series (although certainly not the end of tomato consumption!)! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did :) You can check out more ways with tomatoes over here.

For even more about tomatoes, go take a peek at the Summer Fest Party...they are celebrating tomatoes this week: Steamy Kitchen, Simmer Till Done, Matt Bites, Away to Garden, White on Rice, The Sister Project, and Gluten Free Girl.

Little Excursions

Four deadlines this week. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. [It's the truth!] I get a wee bit behind with these posts because of work so then I do quick little posts on Facebook. Friend me there will you? You won't feel so left behind. Not as visual though.

I've done a couple of little excursions just to relieve my creative brain of any tension. My friends, Colleen and Joanne,  and I went out to celebrate J's birthday [Happy Birthday!] and we also tested Colleen's brand new Ford Shelby! Look at these cool ladies! We went fabric shopping, of course, and had a fun lunch celebration.

My family and I were driving by this boutique dealership the other day and I thought that my hubby should buy me this one for my birthday! Then I thought that I should save all of my money because I was told by the dentist that both kiddos will need braces. 

I headed down to Princeton for a few hours last weekend. It was really hot. Too hot to stick around town. A shame because they were having a sidewalk sale. I love walking around town and there's so many little things to take note of. The kids were only interested in getting some delicious ice cream and then heading back to the car. I ended up taking photos on the run.

See you really soon. I'm finishing off some projects this week and then I'll have to start thinking about the new school year.  xo, L

Tomato Salad 2

I’ve been talking about tomatoestomatoes and the media, my funny/strange ways with tomatoes, and a series of tomato salads that keep these fruit in the spotlight (and away from my greens!). And why not? It’s been quite warm of late (typhoons then this heat...the weather is leaving me befuddled) and the tomatoes are almost jumping of their own accord into my market bag, so I think it’s apt that I post about my tomato salads.

As I said in my last post, I like my tomatoes in salads of their own, away from my greens, and of fairly simple preparation. If I’ve found really excellent tomatoes, or if I’m hungry and can’t be bothered to prepare anything that requires utensils or washing up, then I just have tomatoes with salt. Effortless and unbelievably also brings back fond memories of the days before I could cook ;) My Tomato Salad 1 is just a small step up from this :)

If I have a whole bunch of tomatoes that needs to be used up right away, or if the mood strikes me, I slow-roast them in my oven. This method is also good with less than stellar tomatoes as it concentrates the sugars in particular and the flavor in general. It is also cheaper to do this than to buy fancy (and imported) bottled sun-dried tomatoes. You can also control how dry you’d like your tomatoes...I prefer mine semi-dried, with a little “meat” still on them.

And then I have my second tomato salad to trot out...

Tomato Salad 2
  • 250 grams cherry tomatoes (or other tomatoes of your preference – different sizes and colors are good -- of roughly the same volume)
  • 1 small red onion
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

- Slice tomatoes: no rules here – slice them as haphazardly or as uniform as you’d like. For these cherry tomatoes I left the smallest ones whole and sliced the majority in half...for the biggest ones I cut them in quarters.
- Slice the onion into thin half moons – as thin as you can manage.
- Toss onions and tomatoes together and dress with a couple of good glugs of olive oil and some dashes balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with sea salt (as good a finishing salt as you have – and don’t be shy about it) and freshly cracked black pepper. I always do this to taste but if you want a guide just use 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, toss, taste, and adjust. Toss don’t want battered tomatoes!

This is another way I like my tomatoes – with onions. Good and proper, breath-busting, red onions. Held together with sweet balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper (lots!) this salad is not shy with its flavour. It’s wonderful with anything grilled or fried...though we’ve had it with everything from roast chicken to adobo and it goes splendidly with those too.

For this salad I use any nice or interesting tomatoes that come my way. I’ll get different kinds, shapes, sizes, colors (I sometimes like to add some green tomatoes here) and cut them up into random chunks (just trying to remain in the vicinity of the same size). I used cherry tomatoes in this particular one because I came across some cute specimens in the market :) So don’t limit yourself! Feel free to grab what looks good to you. Some also prefer to “de-fang” their onions by soaking them in water and salt (then rinsing and draining) to remove some of the bite, but it’s exactly that raw-onion-bite against the sweet tomatoes that I love in this salad, just make sure you slice them as thin as you can.

More tomato salad coming soon! Happy weekend everyone :)

Summer Fun - Quilting And Non-Quilting

There have been a lot of rainy days so we've been trying to take advantage of the sunny days around here whenever we've even seen a hint of sunshine.
In between, the kids and their friend, Abhay, have been going to summer camp. They've had so much fun hiking, digging and generally getting muddy and dirty. All little boys should get muddy and dirty right?

The campsite is located in a lovely wooded area. I thought that I'd include my photograph there for posterity. My debut on Quilt Out Loud is on and though it's great, I think that I look as though I'm six months pregnant on the screen. My opinion, just sayin'.

After dropping the kids off, I headed over to Kindred Quilts. There was my friend, Mark Lipinski, host extraordinaire of Quilt Out Loud. Toby, owner of Kindred Quilts [pictured in the green sweater below], Linda Hanneman [pictured with Mark, below], Ellen, Mark and I had so much fun just hanging around. Mark's such a funny guy!

Linda made these fun stuffies from an Indygo Junction pattern. I had made a pencil case similar to these guys a couple of weeks ago for Big A but I just loved these stuffies. Linda sells her beautiful designs on Etsy and they're all gorgeous with such detail! Look at this elephant pincushion! Check out my inspiration journal for some more images from today.

Interesting fabric, huh?

I love these little blocks that Toby has made kits of for sale in her shop. The photograph doesn't do them justice. The colors are so funky.

Meanwhile, I have a few more deadlines. Back to work. xo, L