Wednesday

Some news!


Yup - you guessed it, I'm pregnant again - with another boy!
We are all very excited to welcome this new addition into our family early this February.


This news came as a big surprise to us, but we are delighted just the same…. and to be completely honest, a little terrified too. We had a pretty rough first 5 months the first time around, and it's hard to imagine going through that trying newborn period again. But at least this time I know how temporary it all is, and how good it gets in no time. And this time around I'll be more confident in myself, and my abilities as a mother. This time will be better :)

Tuesday

The South of France - La vie est belle!






We had such a wonderful time in the south of France last month. Travelling with a 19 month old turned out to be easier than we expected (though the overnight flight was rough… more on that later).
Because of the time change, Zac was staying up late, and sleeping in until 10:30am (!!)…. we couldn't have asked for a better daytime schedule. It meant that we could go out for dinners AND sleep in!

This trip was a family vacation to celebrate my mother-in-law's 60th birthday. We all stayed in a rented house in a small fishing village called Cassis. It was perched on a hill, overlooking the Mediterranean. Who could possibly ask for more?!

It was so beautiful that I took an obscene amount of pictures, and I'm only just starting to find the time to sort through them now.

If you are curious to see (plenty!) more photos from our trip, read on after the jump…

Saturday

Dinner time - The best steak tacos EVER!


So to celebrate my wonderful husband's 33rd birthday this year, I decided to make a homemade taco fiesta… everything from scratch! I was inspired by the mouth-watering article in this month's Bon Appetit magazine about homemade fish tacos. Now we LOVE fish tacos! But unfortunately all the fish available up here in the far north are rather bony (plus I'd have to catch them myself), or uninspiring frozen fillets from the grocery store… so I decided to make a spiced steak taco version. Very fitting for the hubby's birthday I thought.

Not to brag or anything, but they were AMAZING! So amazing, that I absolutely had to muster up the time to type this post out so I can share it with all of you.


Ok so this post actually contains five recipes! Homemade corn tortillasTangy mango salsa, Creamy cilantro-lime coleslawPickled jalapeños, and Chile-spiced marinated steaks. These recipes were made for each other!

Serve the tortillas warm - fresh from the pan, and assemble your tacos with avocado slices, spiced beef strips, a spoonful of creamy slaw, a few fiery pickled jalapeños, and a generous helping of sweet mango salsa. Whoever you serve these to will love you forever ;)

Read on for all the recipes….

Monday

Ottolenghi's Plenty More - definitely something to look forward to!


I literally squealed with delight when I discovered that Yotam Ottolenghi was writing a follow-up cookbook to his highly celebrated vegetarian cookbook, Plenty.

Seriously, that cookbook changed my life! I know that's dramatic, but honestly it completely revolutionized the way I cook. And clearly I couldn't be more excited for the follow-up book, which will include 120 new vegetarian recipes. I can't wait to see what kind of crazy - ingenious - flavour concoctions he will come up with this time!

The book is titled Plenty More, and is set to be released in North America October 14th.
:)

(above: the UK version of the cover)


Thursday

Life Lately... I'm feeling pretty lucky



Oh glorious summer! Life feels so full and ripe these days, and I just can't get enough of it.
Maybe it's because I'm pretty deprived and cooped up in the arctic most of the time, or maybe it's because summer is just so darn wonderful, but I am feeling overwhelmed with gratitude these days. What did I ever do to deserve such sweetness in my life?


We've been hanging out in parks a lot these days. Zac is at the perfect age for this. Everything is so exciting to him... the texture of the sand, the birds, the squirrels and ants, the other kids, the fountains.   It's so refreshing to re-experience the wonders of the world through the eyes of a toddler. He makes us slow waaayyyy down, to examine every crack in the sidewalk and every fallen twig, and that's not a bad thing. It's summer after all, and we've got nothing but time.


We've had a lot of "firsts" lately... first dinner outside on a restaurant terrace, first haircut, first trip to the dentist. And to my surprise, all of them went smoothly. He's become such a sweet little boy. 
Man, I adore that kid!


Our balcony garden at our Montreal apartment is growing abundantly despite our neglect, and we've been enjoying fresh herbs in our salad and fresh mint in our tea.


We spent some time at my parent's place out in the countryside. Zac went crazy for the fresh local strawberries from the farmer's market, and now has permanent strawberry juice stains on most of his t-shirts.


My adventures in bread-making have gone to a whole new level. I've been making my own pain-au-levain from a homemade starter which I feed and care for every day. I've started doing a sort of hybrid technique between this guy and this guy, and the process has been a lot of fun (and eating a lot of delicious fresh bad hasn't been a bad pass-time either!).


 And over the last few days, we've been hanging out at my in-laws place near Toronto.... Eating delicious food, relaxing by the pool, enjoying the free babysitting and jetting off into the city to see a baseball game ;)



Yup, life is pretty sweet and I am so grateful!
And as if it couldn't get any better, tomorrow the entire family will be hitting the skies on an overnight flight to the south of France for a week. I cannot wait to be by the Mediterranean sea.... the epitome of summer!

(wish us luck on the red-eye flight with a rambunctious toddler! Any tips would be greatly appreciated!)

Sunday

A recap of Spring (it has been a while!)


For the most part, spring has been wonderful this year. Zachary is 18 months old now and he's become such a fun little guy to hang out with. Of course he is still the strong-willed little monkey he's always been, but it helps so much that he really understands us now and is able to communicate his needs more and more. This truly is a great stage.


In May we went to Vancouver for a week for a friend's wedding. Vancouver is such a beautiful city, and we kept saying "why don't we live here?!" the whole trip. Seriously, that place has everything…. Mountains, forests, the sea, the beach…. Everything, except our families. Big sigh.

Instead of staying in a hotel (which is always so much fun with babies, right?!), we rented a big apartment on Airbnb with my friend Brianna and her family. This worked out better than we ever could have imagined. They have 2 little kids, so all the little ones played together and entertained each other, while we got to hang out, drink wine and make delicious meals all together. Having your own kitchen makes all the difference when travelling with babies. I don't think we'll ever go back to hotels again… at least not until Zac is older.

 ^^ we took up a lot of sidewalk space! ^^


My friend Rebecca's wedding was so lovely. She got married at the Van Deusen botanical gardens, so the backdrop was simply stunning. And my little man looked pretty handsome too :)


After Vancouver we were back in Montreal only briefly, and it was such a tease! At that point it was still snowy and miserable up north, and for those few days in Montreal we were dining al fresco on our balcony, playing in the parks, and eating out at restaurants on their terraces. It was really hard to leave it!



Back up north, the snow did eventually melt away, and gradually the grass came out and leaves grew on the trees. Zac really does seem to like it up here. He is learning to speak Cree because he attends the local native daycare. He probably already understands more Cree than we do, and that's pretty bad considering we've been living up here for 3 years now!

^^ this boy loves to watch the washing machine run - he could watch it forever! ^^

Our next door neighbours are using our backyard for their teepee… which is a great arrangement for us because we get a teepee in our backyard!  I love looking at it when I wake up every morning. It reminds me of what a cool experience we're having by living up here.

Putting the teepee up was a lot of fun. Only the first 3 poles are tied together, then all the remaining poles are merely balanced on each other. And somehow the whole structure is incredibly secure.


The night we finished putting it up, there was this amazing halo around the sun (aka a sundog - which I'd only ever seen on really cold winter days). And as the sun set it encircled the teepee in that enchanting sort of way that takes your breath away and makes you feel like life is magical.

This is what it looks like inside a real, authentic teepee. The Cree use their teepees mainly to cook wild meat. They hang geese from the cross bars over the open flames and roast them for hours. Zac loves to watch. And he also loves to eat roasted goose (which they call Sigabon up here), he can eat an adult's portion of that stuff!


It's starting to feel like summer up here in the last few weeks. It's been warm , the black flies are back with a vengeance, and the days are long… really long! The sun rises at 4am these days and the birds are so loud they wake Zac up, and I can hear him say "tweet tweet tweet!" in his crib (he's all about animal sounds now). Thankfully he has learned to tune them out and go back to sleep…. most of the time.

So that has been our spring so far. As nice as it's becoming up here in the north, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't dying to be back home in the city. I just adore Montreal in the summertime. Two more weeks!

I'm sorry I haven't posted in forever, but right now, life is feeling manageable once again… so here you go. And I've missed you!
I hope you are doing well out there wherever you are.
oxo
Vanessa.

Tuesday

This place would do nicely...






I could definitely live here. That kitchen is amazing!

Although this place on Pender Island is still my absolute dream home.

(via)

Sunday

Dreaming of the French Riviera… Because that's where we're going!


That's right, we are heading to the French Riviera at the end of June! We will be spending a week in a small fishing village on the Mediterranean called Cassis. I keep doing Google image searches of it, and it's getting me so excited! This place looks AMAZING!

So of course I'm dreaming up a beachy wardrobe to go along with it…

 ^^ the summer stuff from Madewell is just gorgeous! I want it all! ^^


^^ I love this Milton Carter beach towel ^^


But I'll tell you what I'm not looking forward to… the overnight flight with a rambunctious toddler! 
But it will all be worth it when I see this…


I can't wait!!

(Last photo via, all other photos from Madewell.com)

Monday

Adventures in (no-knead) bread-making...


If you are already familiar with this incredible method for baking no-knead bread, which steams inside a pre-heated dutch oven and transforms into the most perfect bakery-worthy crusty bread in the world, then there is nothing new for you here.

But I only recently discovered it.

And oh my my! I am completely addicted. This bread is just so good. And so fool-proof! 
And the recipe is incredibly versatile too… you can make endless variations of this bread. 

Like this cheddar-jalapeno bread...


 Or this flax seed bread…


You don't need any bread-making experience to make this bread. It is so easy! You will blow yourself away, and your friends will tell you that you should quit your job and open up a bakery ;)


All you need is flour, water, yeast and salt... and a dutch oven. I use my small Le Creuset pot. But you can use any oven-proof pot with a tight-fitting lid that can handle the heat. My friend made hers in a tajine and it worked wonderfully.

Read on for the instructions and recipe… it will change your life!

Friday

Healthier fruit & nut chocolate truffles


I've been on a bit of a health kick lately. Spring has a way of doing that to me. But no matter how healthy I aspire to be, I will always have a sweet tooth. I always need that sweet little bite of something-something after I finish dinner.

... And these little chocolate truffles definitely hit the spot. I call them "guilt-free truffles" (although that is a total lie, because they definitely contain fat... but it is all good fat, and we all need a bit of that!).

So here's a recipe for healthier chocolate truffles... made with ground almonds, dried figs, nut butter, coconut oil, and honey. And they are SO SO GOOD!


ps: they make a wonderfully nutritious protein-rich snack for toddlers too!

Read on for the recipe...
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