Bits and Bobs from the weekend…

The last few days have been pretty great. Beautiful sunny days and thunder and lightning storms at night. It’s really starting to feel like summer is just around the corner! We spent the weekend visiting a festival all about outdoor activities (camping, hiking, kayaking, you name it!) and exploring the Island of Saint Helen, where the Biosphere lives. The outdoor pool was even open and a really sweet reminder that summer is almost here. Overall, Steve and I just spent the weekend hanging out together, in celebration of our 7th wedding anniversary that just so happened to be yesterday. We capped off a lovely few days last night with an anniversary dinner. Steve had a lamb burger, fries and a beer. I had mac and cheese. What can I say. We’re classy like that! ;) I’ll be back soon with our traditional anniversary photo. Until then, have a wonderful week!

Oh, May.

My first month of May back in Canada has not disappointed me. It’s actually even better than I remember! I can most definitely say that May remains my favorite month here. I sort of wish I could bottle a few of my favorite bits of this season and pull it out and pour it in my bath or something during the long winter months. Instead though, I’ll just blog about it, so I’m sure to remember just how great it feels when spring rolls into town! So, here’s my favorite things list. All the stuff I love the most so far about this beautiful month and it’s only the 24th, still a whole week to go!

~ The smell of fresh cut grass
~ Lilacs
~ Tulips
~ Potted plants
~ Flip flops
~ Sundresses with bare arms and legs
~ Summer pjs
~ Cotton bed sheets
~ Open windows
~ Ice cream
~ Barbecuing
~ White wine
~ Warm summer-like evenings
~ Cool summer-like breezes
~ Leaves in full bloom (especially love the ones right outside my kitchen window!)
~ My birthday
~ Water sprinklers
~ The smell of gardens and grass being watered
~ Warm rain
~ Dandelions and dandelion wishes
~ Sunscreen
~ Sun kissed faces
~ Bike rides
~ Kids in sun hats
~ Fresh fruit salad with lots of berries
~ Feeling the cool grass between my toes and the hot pavement under my feet
~ Brightly painted toe nails
~ Sunny mornings
~ Long days
~ Kids’ chalk drawings on the sidewalks
~ Our wedding anniversary (which is coming soon!)

So, that’s my list! What would you add? xoxo

Apples and Oranges

I had some apples and oranges that were on their last legs and in an effort to avoid throwing out/wasting too much food, I decided to whip up a little apple crisp. I don’t have a recipe to share because I sort of just made it up as I went but I can tell you this; the secret to a really good apple crisp? Lots and lots of crumble and just a little bit of apples. Delicious every time!

Have a wonderful long weekend, my friends! Chat soon…

PS. Just in case you’re wondering, I used the orange to squeeze citrus juice all over the apples and it worked like a charm!

Lately

I was inspired by this post and thought I’d do one of my own. So, here it is…

Lately, I’ve been…

…loving the lilacs blooming all over the place.
…also loving bringing those pretty smelling flowers inside!
…appreciating Jesse’s company during the day more than ever.
…feeling so thankful for all the people who helped make my birthday feel so special.
…thrilled that it is BBQ season again! (Hello, easy tasty dinners!).
…baking strawberry banana muffins and thinking they taste pretty darn good!
…planting flowers in pots and hanging beautiful baskets of flowers on our deck (and smiling every time I see them!).
…reminding myself to trust that everything is happening just as it’s meant to be (I originally found this quote on Pinterest and fell in love!).
…wearing dresses with bare legs and sandals (Yippee for spring!).
…stressing out at times about finding a job yet still trying to relax and enjoy this down time while I’ve got it.

What about you? What’s going on in your world lately?

Birthday Celebrations

I celebrated my 32nd birthday on Saturday (32nd!!). Saturday sure is a great day for a birthday! It sort of turned into a birthday weekend, full of fun! My friend, Stacey had her birthday a few days before mine and our sweet hubbies put their heads together and made some great plans! We spent Saturday afternoon at a spa together and enjoyed a one hour massage, facial and full body exfoliation. We were asked twice to talk more quietly at the spa. We tend to get a little chatty when we’re together! hehe! :) We then celebrated with a birthday BBQ with all of our wonderful friends at our place. The guys organized all the food and us ladies got to sit back and drink wine. Not bad, eh?! It was our first BBQ of the season and the first time we hosted a gathering in our new home. It was great and was totally topped off with birthday cake (one of which ended up on the ground!) and lots of laughs with friends. I feel so thankful for all the great people in my life! On Sunday, Steve and I went out for brunch, took a drive in our rental car, and bought some beautiful hanging flowers for outside and a few little ones for pots on our balcony. We took a long nap and drank lots of recovery coffee. It was a fabulous way to spend a birthday boxing day! A big thank you to my darling husband for all his hard work planning me such a special day. It was perfect, even if it wasn’t quite a surprise in the end! My goodness, surprises are tough to keep under wraps sometimes! ;)

Thanks to everyone for all the birthday love, it meant so much. Here’s to lots of wonderful adventures, love and laughter to come in my 32nd year! xoxo

Bits and bobs from last week…

I was so busy looking forward to my birthday and then celebrating my birthday weekend (more on that soon!) that I didn’t get to post the highlights from last week. It was a pretty relaxed week filled with rainy days, sunshine, lots of tulips, neighborhood walks, gardening, a no-go job interview, a much needed haircut (first one since November!) and lots of prep work for WMD’s first race as a sponsor (which went very well!). All and all, a pretty good last week as a 31 year old! Be back soon with all the birthday weekend details!

Gratitude love

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been feeling a wee bit discouraged in the work department this week. It’s a combination of not knowing exactly what I want to do but also the limitations on what I can do because I’m not fluent in French. I knew this would be my biggest challenge when returning to Montreal, so I’m trying really hard to stay positive and patient. The right job will happen at the right time. I just have to continue to be proactive and not give up! In the meantime, I thought I’d do a little gratitude list, because there’s always just as many positives as negatives, if we just take the time to think about them! So, here we go, some things I’m thankful for so far this week…

…rainy weather that is making everything so green and lush and making me feel less guilty about staying in my pajamas a little longer than I probably should some days!
…a birthday parcel in the mail from my mother-in-law and a very pretty summer dress (that fits perfectly!) inside.
…the little bakery near my house that sells the best goat cheese and spinach pizza ever. Not to mention the peach and pistachio danish. Yum.
…blogs that inspire me, even on rainy blue days.
…positive people that spread happy, cheerful energy without even trying. Thank goodness for them to cancel out all the crabby ones!
…the smell of fresh cut grass.
…lilacs starting to bloom!
…our neighborhood and all it’s charm.
…my sewing machine! She’s a sensitive gal but I think that just might be why we get along so well!
…my sister, who never fails to cheer me up with her wit and encouragement.

Do you make gratitude lists? It’s amazing how much they help cheer me up. I think everyone would be a lot happier if they just showed some gratitude love a little more often!

PS. Random question…Is it bad karma to “borrow” a few little lilacs from your neighbor’s bush for a mason jar on your dining room table? ;)

Red Raspberry and White Chocolate Chip Muffins

Raspberries have been super duper cheap lately and just might be my newest favorite reason for moving back to Canada! Raspberries were insanely expensive in the land down under (usually $8.99 a packet) and now that they’re selling three packets for $5 in the shops, I may or may not have bought 6 packets the other day during my usual grocery run. Okay okay, yes I did, I bought 6 packets! So, I decided to try out a good muffin recipe to use a few of them up and after a quick Google search, I decided on this recipe. Except, I changed it a lot. I added a few things, substituted a few things, reduced a few things and…they were yummy! So, I thought I’d share my revised recipe. I wanted to reduce the dairy in the recipe, so the biggest changes were that I swapped the melted butter for vegetable oil and milk for vanilla almond milk. If you really want a dairy free muffin, you could omit the white chocolate chips but I’m a 80/20 girl when it comes to food and think the occasional treat is just the secret to overall eating success. After all, it’s all about balance in life and since eating is such a big part of life, I figure a few white choc chips won’t kill me!

Okay, enough babbling! Here we go!

You will need:

1 cup vanilla almond milk (if you can’t get almond milk, vanilla soy milk would probably work just as well or just use regular ole milk!)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg (slightly beaten)
1/2 tsp. vanilla (I chose to add this and I think it really helped the flavor!)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt (the original recipe call for 1 tsp. but I thought that seemed like a lot!)
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Topping:
I decided to use a topping I use on another type of muffin I make (recipe found here), rather than the butter/white sugar combo the recipe originally called for. For my topping you’ll need:

2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Here’s what you do:

Combine the first four ingredients and stir. Mix together dry ingredients and add to the wet one. Stir until just combined. Gentle stir in raspberries and choc chips. Spoon into 12 greased or lined muffin cups. Mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle liberally on each muffin. Place in 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 25 minutes, or until browned and a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean. Let cool slightly before removing from pan. They taste great warm or cooled completely, so enjoy however you wish!

Happy baking!

Wanna come for a tour?

We’ve been in our place for almost 6 months now (my, how time flies!) and it’s really, truly feeling like home now. I’m so happy in this space. It’s bright and fresh, has lots of storage, great outdoor spaces, and it’s in an awesome neighborhood, close to shops, cafes, parks and public transport. Best of all, it just feels like us. Wanna come for a little tour with me?

When you first enter our front door, you climb a set of stairs up to our living space. Once at the top, you’ll find yourself in a wide hallway type space. From there, you can either turn left and head towards the main living space or right, which heads towards the front balcony, or walk straight ahead into the spare room, which we use as Steve’s wheel building workspace (not pictured…will share another time!).
If you choose to turn left and start walking, the first thing you’ll see is our living room. Our bedroom is just off this room, on the right.
Continue on straight through and you’ll enter a space we use as an office (not pictured) and our dining room. You’ll pass the bathroom (also not pictured) on the left hand side, just off the office space, as you make your way through.The kitchen is just off the dining area, to the left and there’s a big, private outdoor deck at the back of our place, just off our dining room. It’s pretty awesome, I must say! It was a definite deal breaker in why we chose this place! Turn around and head back towards the front of our place (where you first came in), and you’ll walk down that same wide hall (where our bikes are stored), past the living room, looking straight ahead to the balcony at the front, which overlooks our street. Very pretty, especially now with all the leaves and flowers blooming! You’ll pass our bedroom, on the left.

Carry on down the hall, and pop your head into Steve’s work room (also on the left) to see him slaving away at building wheels and/or returning emails or head down the stairs and back out our front door.

And, voila! That’s our home in a nutshell. I’ve had a few people asking for photos. It’s nice to be able to imagine someone in their own space when you think of them, yes? I hope you enjoyed our little tour and feel free to come visit in person anytime! xoxo

Weekending sure is fun!

We had another really great weekend. I really, truly love weekends! Even though I’m not working at the moment, I still love weekends just as much as always. It’s just something about the energy and excitement that goes along with weekends, plus I get to hang out with Steve and that’s always fun! Anyhoo, here are a few of our weekend highlights (from top to bottom)…
…a lunch date downtown with my hubby where I had the best sandwich ever. EVER! It was ham and goat cheese with spicy olive oil and it was seriously the stuff sandwich dreams are made of.
…pretty spring trees and flowers all over downtown and lots of people loving and appreciating them. There were actually line ups to snap pictures of the pink trees!
…fresh new coffee beans that smelled amazing.
…trying two new recipes and both turning out great! I made this strawberry salsa and raspberry muffins (will share the recipe soon!).
…Steve’s new vinyl cutter (we like to call it Vinny) working perfectly for cutting decals for his bike wheels and him surprising me with a pretty name decal (complete with hearts!) for my sewing machine. Very sweet! And, just in case you’re wondering, my husband builds and sells pretty awesome wheels. Check out his website here. His company, WMD (Wheels of Mass Destruction) is sponsoring a bike race next weekend, so he’s been a very busy little beaver getting ready for the big day. I’m really proud of all his hard work and dedication. He’s doing really well with it all!
…last but not least, scoring these awesome chairs for $1 (one dollar!) each at a garage sale just down the street from us. They are perfect on our front balcony. Now, I just need to sew some bright, happy, summery cushions for them and we’ll be all set to sit and watch the world go by!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend too! If you’re still weekending, enjoy your last few hours and may everyone have a lovely week!

PS. Did you see that moon on Saturday night? Wow. Pretty super if you ask me!