Friday, October 17, 2014

Falling for Hamilton



Isn't it crazy when you discover something beautiful that you have never seen before and it is located only 35 minutes from where you live. In this case it was two beautiful waterfalls near the city of Hamilton, Ontario - called Tew's Falls and Webster's Falls. 

These falls are located close to each other in a conservation area so you can easily visit both in one day. Tew's Falls (seen in the photos above) is the highest falls in the Hamilton area and is just a little bit shorter than Niagara Falls. Webster's Falls (seen in the photo below) is considered the most scenic waterfall in the area of the city of Hamilton.


Something I never realized is that the city of Hamilton has more than 100 waterfalls and is called "The Waterfall Capital of the World".  How did I miss this?

Hamilton is built on the Niagara Escarpment - a ridge that runs from Tobermory up on Lake Huron to Niagara Falls in the south- and causes a dramatic elevation change. You can see the edge of the escarpment in the photos below. It is only makes sense that when an escarpment runs through a city it would allow for the formation of many waterfalls. Somehow I just never made that connection when it came to Hamilton even though I've lived nearby for years.





I love finding little treasures like this and you can bet I won't forget about this one.  I'll be back waterfalls! I hear you are beautiful in the winter too. Have you ever discovered a treasure near where you live that you had never visited before.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Baked Apple Beet Casserole


Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends and Happy Columbus Day weekend to my American friends and Happy Monday to everyone else!  

We just got back from a lovely weekend at the cottage with family and friends.  It was cool, but a nice mix of sun and cloud which meant we were able to both sit inside and chat and relax as well as get out for some walks. Honestly, I could get lost in the reds and golds and oranges that were all over the trees. Most of the reddest leaves had already fallen, but the oranges and reddish-oranges were still going strong along with the yellows and golds. My personal favourite are the trees and leaves with a range of colours on them from red to yellow.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunt's home which is near our cottage.  It was a fantastic dinner and everything was delicious. It was such fun to get together with our good friends who joined us for the weekend as well as family.  So much to be thankful for!

 

  









I did want to share one recipe with you (and preserve it so I can find it again as it is definitely one I want to repeat). We had ham on the day after Thanksgiving dinner and I wanted to serve beets with the ham. I checked some cookbooks for recipes and modified one to make Baked Apple Beets. They are so simple to make and great when you have company as all the fuss of skinning the beets is done long beforehand.


Baked Apple Beets
Ingredients:
2 cups cooked beets, chopped
2 cups apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 large onion, thinly sliced 
2-3 tablespoons margarine or butter

Method:
1. Cook whole beets for 40-50 minutes and skin them when cool enough to handle.
2. Combine ingredients in a baking dish and dot with margarine
3. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hour at 325F

Monday, October 6, 2014

Making Sushi


Have you ever made your own sushi? I know lots of people have, but I'm not one of them. I love trying new recipes, though, so I was keen to try.

Our son Malcolm suggested we make sushi for lunch when we visited them last weekend. Most of the ingredients are easy to get, but I wasn't sure about the raw fish. I was told at our local grocery store's meat counter that their salmon was not considered sushi-grade, but it was fresh from New Brunswick and had been received that day which seemed good enough for me.

I thought sushi making would be much more difficult than it is to make the rolls stay together and look pretty.

All you do is press some sticky rice on the seaweed sheets leaving about an inch along the top edge bare without any rice. You have to use sticky rice so that the grains will stick together - regular rice won't work.




Then you add your choice of thinly sliced vegetables (we had cucumber, carrots, and avocado), crab meat, or raw salmon along the edge nearest you. 

When you have all the ingredients you want, then you roll the log starting from the side nearest to you. The bamboo mats help you make a tight roll. The inch of seaweed wrapper at the top edge of the sheet is used to seal the log together. It helps to have a bowl of water to dip your fingers into if they get too covered in rice or if you need to help the seaweed wrapper make a firm seal.

Then, using a sharp knife you cut the log into bite-sized pieces and put them on a plate to admire eat.







We started our meal with miso soup so we would have the energy to make our sushi lunch. Miso soup is very easy to make and a great addition to a sushi meal. We modified this recipe and it turned out to be so tasty.

To make miso soup, boil together:
4 cups water
1/2 cup chopped green onion (or more if you want)
1 package firm tofu (it must have been about 2 cups)
3-4 tablespoons miso paste
2 sheets of nori (dried seaweed), crumpled



I love sushi and am impressed with how easy it was to make them look good - and of course, they tasted great!

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Nasturtium-Inspired Home





I took these photos of the nasturtiums in our garden a few days ago. They are finally hitting their stride now that they are days weeks away from being done-in by a killer frost. They are full and lush and gorgeous. I just love the yellow and orange flowers against the gray-blue table. It's one of my favourite colour combinations.


All those dreamy blues and yellowy-oranges got me wondering what a nasturtium-inspired home would look like. Thanks to Pinterest and Google and other internet wonders I was able to bring my blue-mixed-with-yellow-gold-orange house to life. Let's have a look.

*******************

I'm glad you found us. Isn't it just as I described it - dark blue gray siding with a bright sunny yellow front door. Not everyone is as flowery in describing colours as I am, but it took me ages to find just the right shade of blue and yellow so I have to gush a little.


Come on inside. Do you like the wallpaper? I just had to use it somewhere in my home. It creates a big impact in a small space, don't you think?

Please have a seat in our living room. Would you like something to drink?

BHG

Why is it that everyone ends up in the kitchen when you entertain. Come in and make yourself comfortable while I finish dinner.

Katie Rosenfeld Design
I hope you're hungry because I've cooked lots of food. Please have a seat and I'll be right back with dinner (and maybe some cutlery since I seem to have forgotten to set the table).

Homedit
It's such a cool evening - why don't we move to the library so we can sit by the fire and chat. Don't worry about the chairs - they may look like they are falling apart, but they're really tough as nails.


It's getting late isn't it? I'll show you to your room. This first room is our bedroom.

Southern Living

And just down the hall is the kid's bedroom. They are very tidy children, aren't they? Maybe that is because we only allow them to have one small, handcrafted wooden toy. It certainly helps keep the house in order.

BHG
Here's your bedroom.  I hope you are comfortable. There's everything you need - with some magazines to read, lots of pillows in case you are a two or three pillow type person, and a bowl ... hmmm ... can't remember why I left you a bowl?  I'm sure there was a good reason, but I can't remember it. At least it looks pretty.
And here is your bathroom. Careful you don't bonk your head on the light. I just had to have it even if it is a bit big for the bathroom.

Architect Design

I'm so glad you were able to come for a visit in our nasturtium-inspired home. It's not everyone that can fall in love with a colour combination and then stick with it ... thoughout ... every... last ... room, now is it?


p.s. you guys are the best with all your delightful comments on my last post - totally filled me with joy!

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Joy of Blogging



Did you see the article in the New York Times entitled "When Blogging Becomes a Slog"? You know there is something in the water when it warrants an article in the New York Times. 

I have been sad to see some of the top bloggers find blogging too much and press the pause button. One of the first hints of trouble in blogland was when I read about Erin's plan to embrace the Slow Blogging Movement  on Design for Mankind a few years ago. Erin had been blogging for years and found she wanted less - less keeping up with the internet and more story-telling from the heart. Then there were lots of rumbles about how other social media was taking over and spelling the death of blogging. And most recently, I was sad to read about the blogging break that John and Sherry from Young House Love (one of my faves) needed to take. They were finding it difficult to produce as many posts following the birth of their second child in April. I read YHL daily so they have been sorely missed. Even more disturbing, however, were the negative comments left on their blog bashing them for everything from their taste in decorating, to their attitude, to the supposed decline in quality of posts. I have yet to understand why someone would read a blog they didn't like and appreciate and take the time to write a comment stating their opinions.

When I started blogging four years ago things seemed a little different.  Blogging was more relaxed, the relationships seemed more like you were chatting over the fence with a neighbour. Over the years I've seen things change around blogland.  I've noticed things are more competitive, more perfect, and busier these days. Now a blogger is expected to not only create quality original posts on their blog, but also keep up with all the social media platforms as well. When the expectations are so high it can only lead to burnout and frustration.

At the same time I see lots of bloggers wanting to change things - make it simpler and more personal. I don't know where blogging will be in 10 or 20 years, but I do know that there is lots to love about blogging.

I've recently embraced Pinterest and love it as a place to collect ideas and inspiration. I love to follow some of my favourite bloggers on Instagram and get little glimpses into the day-to-day business of their lives (okay I'll admit it, I'm nosey). I don't really know much about Twitter and I avoid Facebook as it is so confusing and there is so much negative stuff on it. Like blogging though, all these social media platforms to a greater or lesser extent allow you to tell a short story, post a photo or two, document projects/life/inspiration, and engage in some interaction with followers. 

So what does blogging do well? Why do I keep blogging? Where is the joy in blogging?

Blogging allows for a place to write about what I'm creating and to find inspiration at the same time.  Blogging (unlike with other social media) allows you to expand on your ideas, to tell a story, to teach something, to put a personal spin on the inspiration

This past winter was a difficult one for me. I blogged like it was my second job right up until my father passed away just before Christmas and then I stalled. I had ideas, but no energy to focus them into a post. The weather was terrible and our dog was sick (and then passed away) and I just seemed to need to cocoon. My husband and I spent our time (when we weren't at work) engrossed in watching Korean dramas together. We shored each other up together in our mutual obsession with a nation on the other side of the world and with actors and actresses we didn't know. When summer came and life settled down, I was ready to blog again. I realized I had missed it, I wanted to take pictures with a purpose. I wanted to go through the creative process, and do fun projects around the house, and make things pretty on purpose. 

Blogging for me is just a hobby so I'm not under the pressure that John and Sherry from Young House Love are, but in order to remain motivated for over four years I had to ponder what engages me and makes me want to blog. Here's what I came up with:


1.  I blog to learn - I love learning new things, whether it be computer skills, photography, or how to do things. I love that blogging pushes me in new directions. For many posts I Google background information about the history of a town or house or area so I'm learning something new. I'm often having to learn a new recipe or craft that I want to make for the blog. I love being a life-long learner and blogging encourages me to do this.

2.  I blog to be inspired - There are so many ideas out there. It can be overwhelming and humbling, but it can also be so inspiring. I challenge myself to find new ways to do things, new recipes to try, new ways to decorate the house, new solutions to problems. I love putting my brain to work.

3.  I blog to be motivated - It gets 'er done! Yay for being motivated. I'm really slow at finishing any project, but blogging has helped me set goals for myself and light a tiny fire under me to get them done (still slowly, but not quite as slowly as before).

4.  I blog to be creative - One of my greatest joys about blogging is how much I have learned about photography. It gives me a purpose for taking pictures of all kinds of random things like cookies and mushrooms in the forest and pretty clouds - so I can share them with you. I love figuring out new ways to do things and trying to challenge myself to come up with yet another advent calendar or front porch decoration or sideboard arrangement. I love getting those creative juices flowing.

5.  I blog to remember - Seriously, I have such a bad memory and blogging helps me remember what we have done and when things have happened. And probably the most important thing blogging helps me remember is the recipes I have made. I love that search button on the sidebar and use it to find my recipes all the time.

5.  I blog to connect - I love the interaction from blogging. I'm not the best at keeping up with the blogs I read and leaving comments, but I do enjoy the interaction and get satisfaction from getting to know people all over the world.


What's my take-away from all this pondering. First, I do like blogging for all the reasons I listed above.  Secondly, I should try shorter posts - one picture and a few sentences - since that seems to be the modern modus operandi. Blog like it is Instagram. And finally, I need to take the time to leave comments on blogs that I visit. You never know when that blogger friend just might need to know that they were doing a great job and are appreciated.

What are your thoughts on the state of blogging?  Why do you blog?