Tuesday

Life lately: staying warm in sunny Florida


We have jet-setted off to Naples, Florida for a few days to escape the crazy snowy north. I am spoiled, I know.... but with a new baby arriving in February, and a jam-packed schedule up until then, there will be no time this winter/spring for any kind of an escape or babymoon. So we are squeezing it in now, and it has been wonderful!

My in-laws have a place here in Naples, which makes travelling with kiddies SO easy. We are already set up there with strollers, high chairs and kids beds... not to mention my wonderful mother-in-law who cooks delicious meals for us, and babysits in the evening so that the hubby and I can go out for much needed date nights :)


^^ we visit Naples frequently, so we have our usual stops and traditions. Like taking Zac to the Naples Zoo, and eating lunch on the beach at the Ritz hotel (even if we aren't staying there). The kids meals come in these cute little bento-boxes, and they have delicious fish tacos for the adults. ^^

^^ Zac thought the white sand was snow, and was afraid to touch it. We had to carry him the entire time... and with a 29-week belly, carrying a two year old is getting tricky. He's such a monkey that son of mine! ^^

^^ This was the first time that Zac was actually interested in the pool. He LOVED it! And speaking of love, Zac is completely in love with his baby cousin Lola. He always asks to hold her and tickle her toes, and push her in the stroller. I think he's going to be a great big brother ^^


It's been a lovely little getaway in the sunshine state, but tomorrow we head back to reality. Such is life. We have a few days in Montreal and then we're heading back up north for work until Christmas.

I hope you're doing well out there.
oxo
Vanessa.

Saturday

Weekend Treat: Amazing Almond Kamut Shortbread


I think I've come to the conclusion that shortbread is my all-time favourite kind of cookie. To some, shortbread can be rather boring.... but to me, it is downright heavenly! There's something about the initial "snap" of a shortbread cookie, followed by it's melting into buttery goodness inside your mouth. True perfection!

These shortbread are a teeny bit healthier than the standard version, thanks to the kamut flour and ground almonds. But additional fiber & protein aside, the kamut gives the cookie a beautiful golden colour and deep nutty flour that is simply irresistible!

Read on for the recipe...

Thursday

"Two Candles"

My little baby is two years old today!  All week long, we've been asking Zac, "how old are you going to be on your birthday?" and he always responds "two candles!" (referring to his highly anticipated birthday cake). 

On the one hand it feels like time has just flown by, but on the other, I realize how much we've changed and grown over the past two years. I've come such a long way from that clueless girl holding a screaming newborn in her arms two years ago on this very day.

And my beautiful little baby boy - he's such a boy now! And not wanting to sound so clichéd, but with no other way to say it... he brings us so much joy. Like we don't even know how to contain all the love we feel for this boy. He totally rocks our world!


His birthday fell on a work day, so we celebrated in stages. He got to open one present from us in the morning, and a package that came in the mail from his Oma, and then it was off to daycare.


After work, we made cake and ate supper together (macaroni was my two year old's birthday meal of choice... which I discreetly spiked with sautéed green pepper and leeks).
And then there was The Truck...


When I saw this truck on Amazon, I knew Zac would go bananas for it. This boy LOVES trucks (and all things that go). And this truck is incredibly realistic looking and has so many little functioning parts and details... it's right up his alley. To say that he loved it would be an understatement. He basically couldn't function normally after... the truck had to come to the bathroom with him for bath time, and into his room to "watch him sleep" at bedtime. We are half-expecting him to crawl out of bed in the middle of the night tonight and start playing with it.


And then there was chocolate cake... In retrospect, not the best choice to give your already active toddler right before bed, but hey, it's his birthday. Then a few bedtime books, a brief recount of his birth story, and lots and lots of cuddles.

It was a much quieter, more low-key birthday compared to his first one (which we celebrated in Montreal with all our 20+ family members). Although we missed having our family around, there was something nice about being just the three of us, way up in the snowy north, away from the rest of the world.

All in all, it was a very successful second birthday.

Happy birthday, little buddy. We love you so much!

In the kitchen: Simple Tahini Cookies


These cookies are ridiculously easy to make (just throw everything into a food processor and voila!), and they go wonderfully with coffee or tea. They're kind of reminiscent of peanut butter cookies, only with a modern, edgy twist thanks to the sesame tahini.

Oh and they're toddler-approved too ;)

Read on for the recipe....

Eva Fehren Jewelry - I'm in love...


I read about this up & coming New York jewelry designer (Eva Fehren) in a magazine the other day, and I instantly fell in love.  Her designs are inspired by "the industrial, architectural and geometric elements of her native New York". They are both delicate and edgy at the same time.
I especially adore the structural diamond X-rings - wow are they ever gorgeous!


Oh if money were no object...

Sunday

a song for your Sunday night...


Here's a jazzy, romantic remake of an old Frank Sinatra song, by She & Him
I love it. Perfect for a night like tonight. Have a listen…

Their new album, Classics, is out December 2nd.

Tuesday

Cooking my way through Ottolenghi's Plenty More cookbook (a review, so far...)


I've been counting down the months for the North American release of Yotam Ottolenghi's second vegetarian cookbook, Plenty More. But when I first brought it home from the bookstore last week I actually found myself a little overwhelmed. There were so many ingredients I'd never heard of before (what on earth is kecap manis?)!

Though the pictures are incredibly beautiful, the ingredient lists are long (in typical Ottolenghi fashion) and a little overwhelming. But I finally put my hesitations and insecurities aside and dove in. And I have not been disappointed yet.


So far, my favourite recipes are the Braised Kale with Crispy Shallots (pictured at top of post), and the steam-baked aromatic Lemon and Curry Leaf Rice (pictured below). They were both unbelievable!!

^^ I loved this new-to-me technique of steam-baking the rice. It literally transformed ordinary basmati rice into something otherworldly! ^^

I've also made the Cauliflower Cake (delicious!), the Tomato and Pomegranate Salad (incredibly flavourful, though I would add half the allspice next time), the Sweet-and-Sour Leeks with goat cheese (also delicious), and the Steamed Eggplant with Sesame and Green Onion (not pictured above but it was absolutely amazing!!)

I have about 50 other recipes flagged that I'm dying to try in the future… Pink Grapefruit & Sumac Salad, Hot-and-Sour Mushroom Soup, Honey-Roasted Carrots with Tahini Yogurt, Smoky Polenta Fries… just to name a few!

So yes, I would definitely recommend this book. Don't let the weird ingredients discourage you. This is a great way to expose yourself to new cooking techniques and novel flavour combinations.

~ * ~

I'm curious, have you fallen in love with Ottolenghi's recipes too? I seriously want to travel to London just to eat at his restaurants!

If you do buy this book, I'd love to hear which recipes you try out and what you thought of them :)

~ * ~

^^ ps: I also highly recommend Ottolenghi's other cookbooks. I made the above chocolate babkas (Chocolate Krantz Cakes) from his Jerusalem cookbook the other day and they were OUTRAGEOUSLY, sinfully delicious! Recipe available HERE ^^

Monday

Well these coats are utterly gorgeous!






If it weren't for my six-month pregnancy bump, I would definitely be buying one of these gorgeous wool coats this winter. I love the turquoise… such an unexpected and uplifting colour for winter.

Images: 1, 5 - The Chateau Parka, 2 - Wool melton toggle coat, 3 - Mixed tweed toggle coat, 4 - Majesty peacoat. All from  J. Crew.

Thursday

Is it bad that it's not even Halloween yet and I already feel like decorating for Christmas?!




It's not my fault, I swear. I blame the holiday catalogue from Restoration Hardware that arrived in my mailbox last week (I have no idea why I received this catalog in the first place considering we don't even have this store in Canada Quebec!). Anyway the pictures were so pretty, and I became flooded with holiday cheer.

And to make matters worse, I then strolled into West Elm...
And they were putting up their holiday displays. And I swooned all over again...





It's hopeless.  I'm hopeless!
I know how annoying it is for most people to see Christmas stuff before November, but I am just not one of those people!
I could care less about Halloween... bring on the snow!!

(photo credits: top 3 via Restoration Hardware, bottom 4 via West Elm)

Wednesday

Life Lately: October is my favourite colour


We have spent the last two weeks in and around Montreal, soaking up the last bits of autumn as much as we can. We missed the peak of fall colours this year while up north, but I was happy to at least catch the tail end of it.



While visiting family in Toronto, we took Zac to a nearby farm. He's at the perfect age right now to marvel at pumpkin patches, tractor rides, domesticated farm animals, and corn field mazes. He was in heaven!




The main reason for our visit to Toronto, however, was to meet our beautiful little niece, Lola Ray. We all fell in love with her instantly, especially Zac. His positive reaction to his new little cousin made me really excited (and relieved) about intruducing the next member of our family this coming February.


Lola is a little dream baby, and our jaws nearly hit the floor to experience a newborn so serene and at peace with the world (what a difference compared to own experience in those early weeks!).  It was especially nice to see my sister-in-law Natalie settling into motherhood so naturally and effortlessly. She was calm and confident, and nothing like the distressed first-time mom you typically see. 


Oh how I hope my own upcoming newborn experience is more like this the second time around...


We also spent time out in the country with my parents, going on walks, enjoying the sound of leaves crunching under our feet, eating homemade apple pie, and other idyllic autumn pursuits ;)



Meanwhile, this pregnancy of mine is just flying by, almost unnoticed.... except for this enlarging 24 week belly that came seemingly out of nowhere!

(my dear friend Rebecca and I rubbing our baby bumps together)

Well, I guess that's all for now... We fly back up north on Sunday and then return to Montreal at the end of November. I hope you're having a beautiful October, wherever you are.
oxo
Vanessa
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