decorating

Uncomfortably New Spaces

I’m having trouble writing here because it felts a bit stiff and new, you know? Like I only want to present a certain perfect kind of life here, because this whole blog is all new and properly mine (finally no nicole.wordpress.tumblr.etc nonsense!) Except that having a proper dot com makes it seem so real and that’s pressure in its own way.

moving moving

(plus as anyone who follows me elsewhere on the internet knows, I am not a grown up, since my instagram is mainly filled with cafe chalkboard cat meme illustrations and dudes in Halifax Tourism ads who look like Ryan Gosling)

My first instinct was to make this strictly a food blog, because that had been my goal for a long time, a proper food blog with photos NOT taken with an iPhone! And that part has been working out for me when I need to share a recipe, but during the heat of the summer, even turning on a burner heats my little, un-air conditioned apartment, so I stick with the salads and bowls of fruit and mall sushi. My diet is just too boring to merit writing about.

moving moving

(I have been eating some AMAZING food and drink prepared by others though. Potato pizza from Atomica in Kingston! Sangria on the patio of Paupers!)

Incidentally, my actual living space is also about to get unfamiliar as I prepare to move in with my boyfriend! To be fair, I’ve spent so much time at his place that it won’t really be an unfamiliar space, but his place is currently such a boy place, piles of empty pizza boxes and all. I hope when I move in that it becomes such an us place, you know? Like, I am not the most girly decorator of all time, but I do have some pictures on my walls and a few guest towels, two things Will is totally lacking in.

Plus his current bedspread is brown (!!!) and shiny (!!) and polyester (!!!). And when I asked him why he bought it, he said, “Eh, it was cheap.” And I totally understand thriftiness! But not when it comes to brown polyester comforters. So that was one of the first things we purchased together: a plain, navy cotton duvet cover.

The other thing is, his pillows are so old  and flat that it’s actually disgusting. After months of super uncomfortable sleeps whenever I slept over, I finally bought a pillow just for his place. And then the other night he was like, “You know, when you weren’t here the other night, I slept on your pillow and it was so much more comfortable than mine.” Well duh! It still maintains its shape unlike his flattened ones. Will is definitely one of those big picture people. The little details in life, like pillow age and comfort, he just does not concern himself with those.

This is the first time I’ve ever moved into a place and purposely bought things for it. Usually I’m just very reactive, like, “Oh, I don’t appear to have anywhere to sit, I should remedy that at some point”, but this time it was like moving to an actual grown up apartment, where I made choices about what each room colour would be. So much fun! And so much time spent on pinterest!

moving moving

(we did survive both an IKEA trip and a Costco trip already, so I’d say we’re pretty well prepared)

So! All that to say that I will probably be writing a lot about the super fun time of decorating our new place. We’ve actually bought most of the stuff we need already (because I am a planner and like to have everything done ahead of time). However, we decided we wouldn’t use any of the new stuff until I officially live there, so it’s currently just taking up space on his bedroom floor. Less than a month until the move date!

 

goal lists, non-recipe posts

Strawberry picking

starberries

I’m so pleased that we go to pick strawberries this weekend! It was on my to-do list last summer, but by the time we had a free weekend, it thunder-stormed the whole time and we missed our chance. But this year it was clear and sunny – maybe a bit too sunny for my easily-sunburned boyfriend!

starberries

starberries

(you can’t even imagine how good this field smelled)

We went to Big’r Apple Farm near Brampton and it was just lovely. To get to the strawberry fields, we drove through a little apple orchard which just made me crave fall. The fields were full of families picking (and little kids demanding their parents inspect every berry they picked!). It took us less than an hour to pick one giant basket of strawberries and a smaller basket of sweet peas. And at $15 for a giant basket of strawberries and $8 for half a basket of peas, it was way cheaper than what I’d been paying at the farmers market.

starberries

(look at those curly little pea vines!)

starberries

Will and I are both from the country, and although we love living in Toronto, I think we do miss it a lot. It’s crazy that only 45 minutes away, you can get such a full-immersed country experience.

We basically ate raw strawberries and peas all weekend long, and then yesterday I used some of the berries to do a batch of freezer jam. Since this was my first attempt at jam, I’m going to wait a bit before I post the recipe, because I’m worried it hasn’t gelled as much as it should (oh my, I just had a flashback to reading Little Women where newly-wed Meg can’t get her jams to jell). Even if it ends up too runny, I think I’m enjoy it on toast and scones anyway, since there’s such a sense of accomplishment to making something with fruit you’ve picked yourself!

jam jam jam
All in all, a great way to spend a few hours on a Saturday. I was so glad we fit it in considering what a short season strawberries have!

starberries   starberries

(the cheese we paired with the strawberries was this balsamic infused one, and it was the perfect pairing for strawberries and red wine – so rich and wine-y itself!)

recipes

Friday Night Pizza

pizza pizza

My family is really into traditions. So much so that one of their friends was once like, “How did these all get started? Can you help us start some of our own?” And it’s funny, they’re all simple things, but it would feel weird to go without. Like, if we didn’t watch It’s A Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve and make the same comments every single time, it would be weird. It wouldn’t feel like Christmas!

Friday night pizza has been one of those traditions for as long as I can remember. Growing up in the city, we rotated between Little Caesar’s, Gino’s Pizza and Domino’s (which was my preferred spot because mmm, crazy bread). And then we moved to the country, and delivery pizza was no longer available, along with things like taxis and mail delivery and hydro lines (did I mention my parents’ house is off the grid?). So my mom learned how to make homemade pizza, because you can’t ignore traditions just because they start to require a little bit more work.

pizza pizza

(does anyone else get that “Knead the dough dontcha know” song stuck it their head while they make dough? Yeah, me neither)

Although I don’t purposely do pizza night on Fridays, it often just happens that way, you know? You’re tired from working all week, but you also want something delicious to celebrate that it’s Friday. Now that I live in the big city with a lot of options, most of the pizzas are delivery (fellow Torontoians: Gelato Pizza is my new favourite place, particularly any of their pizzas with spinach). But I do manage to make this from time to time.

I know making dough scares a lot of people, but this recipe is pretty foolproof. The key is not to kill the yeast with too-warm water – before you add it to the yeast, check it with your inner wrist, like people used to do with baby bottles.

pizza pizza

Plus there are just endless topping variations when you make it yourself (and no one is changing you $1 just to add a sprinkle of parmesan). One of my favourite toppings is potatoes and rosemary – delicious and accidentally vegan! But this time I was craving simple pizza: sauce, fresh basil, baby bocconcini cheese.

pizza pizza

pizza pizza

(I love polka dots in all forms, but especially on pizza)

pizza pizza

This is also a very crowding pleasing recipe. I originally was going to post about this when I had my friends Brad and Melissa over for dinner, but then I was being too chatty and totally forgot to take photos.

Pizza Pizza Pizza

(serves four, or two if you want a lot of leftovers for lunch the next day)

  • 1 tbsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2-3/4 cups flour
  • toppings!

Place ¼ cup lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl, add the yeast and allow to soften for about 10 minutes. In the meantime mix sugar, salt, oil and warm water (I usually do this in a measuring cup). Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add this mixture to the yeast. Add 1-1/2 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Add remaining flour or enough to make a dough just barely firm enough to handle. At this stage, you can cover the dough and set aside for up to two hours.

Turn dough onto floured board and knead lightly. If using 2 smaller pizza pans, divide dough into two. Flatten each piece and using a rolling pin, flatten until big enough to fit a lightly greased pizza pan. Press up around edges to make a slight rim. Let rise for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450° F. Top pizza with sauce, mozzarella, basil and whatever other toppings you desire (I’m a fan of garlic and roasted red pepper). Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper (is it weird to salt and pepper your pizza? I can’t decide). Bake until the bottom is brown and cheese is bubbly – approximately 15-20 minutes.

goal lists

Maintaining That General Sense of Accomplishment & July Goals

My original goal for this blog was to do at least one recipe post a week, but then Toronto finally got proper summer weather, and all I wanted to consume were potato chips and ice cream and wine.

goals post goals post

(oh and I also ate some donuts from the newly opened Jelly Modern. The smores one was especially good!)

So instead, let’s talk about goals!

I read this Door Sixteen post on goals, and it’s one of the few things she wrote that I didn’t really relate to (although I do relate to her lack of career ambition) (but seriously, Anna is the best. Read her “It’s OK” post for further proof of this). I am SUCH a goals person. And actually, so is Will, which is why we go so well together. I once told him that he’s basically “goals wrapped in gingham” and he said it was his favourite thing anyone had said about him!

to do list

(this is the nightly to-do list of a person who likes to plan)

The year before I turned 26, I did a 26 things before 26 list, and ended up accomplishing almost all the things on my list. And it felt great. And it also feels great to be able to go back and look at the list and realize how much I got done just because I wrote it down and convinced myself to do it. This year I did a 13 things in 2013 list, but I’m totally lagging on it right now. I did manage to pay off my overdraft (goal #11!), but I’m kind of ignoring the other ones.

So I’d like to start posting my monthly goals here. I think it keeps me a lot more accountable. Plus, even this this is mainly a space to talk about food, I want to talk about other parts of life too, and goals and life planning is one side of that! (not to mention, an embarrassing number of my goals this month are food-related. Oops!)

  1. Check Value Village for old frames for a chalkboard project
  2. Make apple pancakes
  3. Call about making changes to my internet service
  4. Start practicing the family dance for my sister’s wedding in August
  5. Go strawberry picking
  6. Go to a comedy show (Will has a groupon for this!)
  7. Go on a haunted tour (ditto)
  8. Sew too-big Joe Fresh t-shirt
  9. Stick to new allowance (since I’m trying to pay my debt off faster)
  10. Make sangria (I have so much homemade wine to use for this!)

goals post goals post

(shirt for #8 is picture here, on the far right. And an additional goal for some other month: watch all the Babysitters Club episodes that recently showed up on Netflix!)

July is turning into a busy month already, so I’ve got to get started on these this weekend! Hopefully the first thing will be strawberry picking, since I don’t want to miss their short season AGAIN this year.