Where to find Affordable Art – My Picks

Coming HomeComing Home on Minted

I had a couple friends over the other day and we were staring at my big empty walls and pondering what should fill the space for years to come.  We all wished we could head out, peruse a few galleries, and stick up some huge original art but it’s not really in the cards right now.  In the meantime, my friend (who is also an interior designer) suggested getting quality posters and having them professionally framed.  I think it’s a great idea and looks better than the zillion tiny Ikea frames filled with random pictures I got rid of in the move.

Focus on stuff you love, not just filling space!

Here are a few of my picks (hubby – see any you like?)

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 11.25.45 AMCanada Map Print from JHill Designs (although I like this Finland one too!)

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A Dream World Glimmers In The Background Of The Soul by Carrie Marril on 20×200

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abandoned beauty by Tom Kondrat at 20×200

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Eames Three Print from House Industries

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Halloween Idea: Cake Batter Blondie Bars

Cake Batter Blondie Bars with Halloween Sprinkles | RoastedMontreal.com

Let’s face it – halloween for me this year won’t be full of cookies and and pumpkin carving.  With a  baby due next week (!) I’ll be on the sidelines.  The candy has been bought, the pumpkins are ready to be carved by my parents who are flying in to take care of Bastien, and I’ll be firmly on the couch the night of halloween.

But, that’s not to say I can’t make a few treats before hand!

Cake Batter Blondie Bars

I was recently sent the cookbook Dessert Mash-Ups by Dorothy Kern who writes the blog Crazy for Crust.  The book itself is kind of insane.  Dorothy mixes up two desserts to create a totally new dessert.  There are things like Carrot Cake Cheesecake Cupcakes, S’morescake, and Truffle-Topped Brownies.  Prior to making the blondies I treated my family to her Blueberry Muffin Waffles which were pretty good, but definitely more of a treat for once in a while.  So far, the two items I’ve made were very sweet and I recommend this book only if you really have a sweet tooth.  After the blueberry waffles we all passed out for a nap, with my son even requesting a nap at 11:00 – an hour earlier than his usual time.

But if you are looking for new desserts to satisfy that serious sweet tooth, this may be the book for you.  Another small warning, because the desserts are a mash up of two desserts, there is often quite a few steps such as making a crust, followed by a brownie, followed by a cheesecake.  These are teeny tiny steps, but nonetheless do add up time wise.

I decided to tackle these Cake Batter Blondie Bars which used rainbow sprinkles and instead substitute them for some halloween sprinkles I had bought a while back (I used these).  I liked the fact that they really say halloween without going into the ghoulish territory – which is fun too but not what I wanted right now.

She uses butter extract to really make the blondies taste like cake batter.  I have to admit I looked for butter extract at Loblaws, Metro and Target and didn’t find any.  I know it probably does add flavour, but she uses only 1 tsp so I decided to forgo and it was still good.  And it did sort of taste like cake batter.  I have no idea how but it did!

Anyways – try them out and let me know what you think!

Find Dessert Mash-Ups by Dorothy Kern online here.

ps If you are looking for other Halloween Food ideas and recipes check out my Pinterest page with 200 ideas!

Recipe excerpted from Dessert Mash-Ups (Ulysses Press) by Dorothy Kern.

Cake Batter Blondie Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
These Cake Batter Blondie Bars are from Dessert Mash-Ups by Dorothy Kern. Use Halloween sprinkles instead of rainbow sprinkles for some halloween cheer.
Ingredients
  • Blondie Bars
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp butter extract
  • ½ cup sprinkles
  • Frosting
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cups powdered (icing) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp milk
  • sprinkles, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Make the Blondie Bars
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray or line with foil and spray with cooking spray for easy cleanup. (I didn't use foil and it was fine)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the baking powder, salt and flour. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter extract, and beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in the sprinkles.
  5. Press the dough into the prepared pan. (The dough will be sticky; spray your hands with cooking spray to keep it from sticking to you.) Bake for 22 to 24 minutes. It will be slightly golden, but still have the slightest jiggle in the centre. It will set as it cools. Cool completely before frosting.
  6. Frosting
  7. Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered (icing) sugar, and mix until crumbly. Add the vanilla, and milk and mix until smooth and fluffy. (My note: When you taste the icing it shouldn't be overly sugary and grate on your teeth - it should be light and fluffy - but it will still be sweet.) Frost the bars. Top with sprinklers and cut into bars.
  8. Store covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Best eaten at room temperature within 5 days.

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First Moments with Baby

Petit Lem

It seems totally surreal to me that my due date is NEXT WEEK.  I mean, I know the kid is in there.  He pushes so hard I can grab his little hand (or foot?!) and it’s kinda sorta creepy.

I have to admit that we didn’t buy much for this kid clothing wise.  We already had a boy and already had quite a few clothes.  But, I kind of feel a little bad.  I mean, I know he won’t know but I mean he at least deserves something nice to go home from the hospital in, no?

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I kind of fell in love with these cute clothes from the Firsts Collection from Petit Lem which is a Montreal based company.

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We had a few things from Petit Lem for our first son, and I especially liked the cross over tops so you don’t have to try and pull a onesie over their fragile little heads.  I also found they had more gender neutral clothes which was nice.  Not everything has to be boys-only or girls-only (although knowing we are only having two boys does make me buy boy-looking stuff a little more aggressively).

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I also like the fact that they have unisex ‘bundle’ kits which are such a nice baby shower gift. It’s all pretty classy and modern.  Perfect for modern moms like me!

The Firsts Collection from Petit Lem is available exclusively on their newly redesigned website.  Other Petit Lem products are available in-store including The Bay.

ps They have older kids stuff too!  84K1007210A658

Note: Petit Lem invited me to their media event where they gave me cake which I happily scarfed down at 11am.  They have also sent me some clothes. But, all opinions are my own – and I mean isn’t the stuff cute?

 

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Pregnancy – 1st time vs 2nd time (worlds apart…..)

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There was a post on Cup of Jo a while back about Raising your first child vs. second child.  It was hilarious and SO TRUE.  Now that I’m nearly done my pregnancy, I thought back as to what was different during this pregnancy vs. my first and it was pretty different too…

Education

1st time
Diligently read two full pregnancy books.  Had at least three pregnancy apps so I could see photos of my developing fetus as well as comparisons to various sized fruits and vegetables.

2nd time
Downloaded a pregnancy app.  When it came time to upgrade so I could see beyond the first trimester I deleted it.

 

Exercise

1st time
Pre-natal aquasize classes at my local pool.  We gently bobbed in the water as we contemplated life with baby.

2nd time
Doing laundry and running after my toddler.

 

Name

1st time
Lists were made and books were consulted to confirm the meaning of the name.

2nd time
Short-list of three names.  First name used by a friend just before birth – went with second choice.  No debates.

 

Food

1st time
Made sure I always had a daily dose of omega 3’s and plenty of fruit and veg.  Convinced exposure to healthy food in the womb would create a healthy eater.

2nd time
Cheerios and chocolate milk.  Ice cream until the reflux made it a misery.  Haribo gummies.  Eating expectations substantially reduced.

 

Rest

1st time
Relaxing on the sofa, feet up.  Sleeping in on the weekends.  Soaks in the tub.

2nd time
Sleeping in means 7:05.  I go to bed early… because I fall asleep next to my toddler at 8:00.  This is closely followed by hours of insomnia at around 1am because I went to bed too early.  The cycle continues.  Rest is folding laundry while sitting on the couch.

 

Buying

1st time
My husbands motto – it’s a new baby, so he deserves new items.

2nd time
My husbands motto – can’t you borrow this from someone?

 

Preparations

1st time
Everything was in place at 32 weeks.  Just in case.  ‘Cause you never know.  Massive spreadsheet of things that needed to be bought/done.

2nd time
Realized we’d better install the car seat when I was beyond full term.  Think I’m ready.  If not will wing it.

 

Baby Book

1st time
Two books – one baby book lovingly filled out ahead of time and one scrapbook with photos.

2nd time
Still on the to do list.

 

Photos

1st time
Monthly photos, same outfit, same pony tail, same position and holding a card with the date.

2nd time
iPhone selfies.  Mostly grainy.

 

Delivery & Expectations

1st time
Anxiously awaiting the baby to come.  Would love if he came early.  Can’t wait to hold him and give cuddles.  Breastfeeding will be such a lovely quiet time.

2nd time
Desperately hope baby will at least wait until 39 weeks.  Excited to see his little face but all-nighters with a screaming, red faced newborn haunt my dreams.  Dread the chapped nipples and screaming pain.  Never thought I’d dread having huge boobs.

What about you guys?!

Also see posts on Newborn Essentials you Never Knew You Needed, Montreal Parent Resources, and Necessities for a New Baby

 

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Just Add Cheese…

Cheese and MeMe… hostess extraordinare (sort of)

I have quite a few friends on mat leave right now and if you couldn’t tell from the above photo I’m about to have a little one myself pretty quick.  (deep breath)

Being at home with the kiddos all day can be pretty tough.  It can be isolating and boring and lonely.  I think getting together with friends is one of the best ways to get out and talk to your friends and have a laugh about anything…  My sis in the UK has a weekly rotating teatime meet up.  In Quebec?  Why not a cheese meet up?  Seriously, my friends were so excited when I mentioned I was inviting them over for a cheese-focused lunch….

Cheese Spread Good

OK, but first lets take a step back.  I know pretty much NOTHING about cheese.  I don’t know if it was like this everywhere but growing up I think I was exposed to cheddar and mozzarella.  I don’t seem to recall much else.  So, personally, I find the idea of hosting a little cheese get together a bit intimidating.

So…

I was so happy when I learned about a new app from Our Cheeses that helps select local cheese based on your taste preferences, lets you save them for future reference and gives you ideas about what to do with them.  It’s actually pretty cool.

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First you get to take a little taste test to see what type of cheese you prefer.  I love soft cheese, but blue cheese is a bit tougher for me…  I used the suggestions that it gave me and used it to spark an intelligent conversation with my local cheesemonger.

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Based on my preferences he suggested four cheeses, which I saved in my favourites so I could read more about them later.  This was very handy as the suggestions tab gives ideas for each cheese including wine pairings and food ideas.

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I checked out one of the cheeses I bought called Le 14 Arpents and under suggestions it had a handy tip that said it would be perfect for a grilled cheese sandwich with pear.  As a food blogger, I hate to admit this, but I’d never actually made a grilled cheese sandwich before and a friend showed me the technique (soft butter, hot pan then low heat, lid on).  I used challah bread, threw in some apples and pears and it was AMAZING.

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My second challenge was blue cheese which is pretty much completely foreign to me.  I settled on the Bleu Bénédictin and thought I could try pairing it with something.  Straight up blue cheese on bread seemed a bit harsh for my palate.  Again, under the suggestions I found a tip for pears with blue cheese and prosciutto.  Simple and easy.  I didn’t even bother to bake them.

Cheese Hands

Needless to say the event was a success and really pretty easy.  Besides assembling the pears and grilled cheese (which I admit I got my friend to do) I just threw some grapes, the cheeses, some bread and crackers on the table.

We all enjoyed tasting the cheese… my fave was Le Mont-Jacob and another friend was in love with Le Riopelle de l’Isle.  Le 14 Arpents was perfect in the grilled cheese and the Bleu Bénédictin was lovely with the pears and prosciutto.  It all really worked out well.  And, now I know more about cheese and how to make a grilled cheese, which is pretty kick-ass.  No Kraft Singles here!

I will definitely be using the app in the future to keep track of which cheese I love.  Because isn’t the most annoying thing falling in love with a cheese and then forgetting the name?!  I also loved the wine suggestions and food suggestions.  It’s just perfect when you’ve got a million other little things on your mind.

Check out the contest that is currently being held by Fromages d’Ici for a chance to win one of six Android Tablets.  2 tablets will be given away each week for three weeks from October 6th – 27th.  Enter here!

Download the Our Cheeses app (available in both French and English) on iTunes or for Android.

This blog post is sponsored by Our Cheese but all opinions are my own.

 

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