Christmas at our house is usually a sprint — we decorate mid-December, get the tree a few days before the 25th and tear around the grocery store hours before it closes for the holiday. But this year I’m approaching it more like a marathon: slow and steady wins the race. I’ve got a leg up on the shopping, brought in a few bits of greenery to make the house festive and tried some new recipes that made the kitchen smell like Christmas. Including a couple from Yvette Van Boven’s wonderful new cookbook, Home Made Christmas. The prolific writer, editor, illustrator and television host (the Dutch cooking show Koken met van Boven is filmed in her kitchen) shares more than 100 recipes, a variety of menus, and many helpful tips to help relieve some of the stresses that come with holiday entertaining. (And just entertaining in general, really.)
Abrams Books and Penguin Random House Canada sent me the books pictured in this post. All opinions are my own.
“I told my wife she was drawing her eyebrows too high. She looked surprised.” HA HA HA HA. Forgive me for not sharing a Halloween joke — I couldn’t find a gourd one. (ZING!) Today’s post is mostly a rehash of things I’ve shared in the past week on social media but if you want to see what’s coming up I’ve included that too.
Abrams Books sent me a copy of What’s Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart.
Ottawa summers are like Zac Ephron: short and hot. California hot. Too hot to think about what to have for dinner, but too short not to make the most of all of the fresh fruits and veggies in season. Luckily people like Gaby Dalkin have done the thinking for us. The LA recipe blogger from What’s Gaby Cooking just released a cookbook with the same name, and it’s full of everyday dishes designed to be made and enjoyed in an easy, carefree, Cali state of mind. The 125+ recipes use fresh seasonal produce and readily available pantry staples for dishes for any occasion, from a day at the beach or a picnic at the park, to a Mexi-Cali fiesta and outdoor pizza party. Nourishing smoothies and salads and veg-and-grain-packed bowls are balanced with indulgent treats like Strawberry Shortcakes, Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares (sooooo deelish!) and a Summer Fruit Galette. Here’s a look inside the book and a recipe to try (we did!), the Heirloom Cherry Tomato Tart.
Abrams Books sent me a copy of Nathan Turner’s I Love California: Live, Eat, and Entertain the West Coast Way in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart.
Although Nathan Turner didn’t get as much air time as the other stars of Million Dollar Decorators (probably because he stayed pretty clear of the drama), I always wished we’d seen more of his California Casual style. “To me, it means a laid-back room, a friendly host, and a beautiful table with simple recipes and fresh ingredients,” the decorator/author/entertainer and California native says in the introduction to his new book (and my wish come true), Nathan Turner’s I Love California: Live, Eat and Entertain the West Coast Way.
I received some of the products mentioned in this post free of charge and name the sponsors below. All opinions are my own and from the heart.
For a couple of years in my teens I worked at the only Tim Hortons in town. The steady stream of customers kept us counter girls hopping, but the instant we caught a break and stopped to chat our manager would waltz through the swingy saloon doors dividing the back from the front and say, “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean.” (Which naturally we resented.) I remembered that this weekend when I had some time to lean, but instead of
avoiding the mess like I usually do, I leaned into it and cleaned my little heart out. Then rewarded myself with a good chunk of my book — I’m finishing Calypso — a few episodes of Queer Eye, and a couple of awesome spin classes at The Dailey Method. (This coming Saturday marks the end of the latest 30-day challenge where you try to do as many classes as you can in 30 days. I wanted to do 26 but will probably only get to 17.) And then we had that incredible rainbow last night! Good things are coming.
Abrams Books sent me a copy of Craft the Rainbow in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart.
Well our spring buds are taking their sweet time to bloom and I am itching to see some COLOUR. So let’s BRING IT ON! Today I’ve got the first of two new books to share with all kinds of brilliant DIY ideas to invite your favourite hues into your home and your wardrobe. Craft the Rainbow: 40 Colorful Paper Projects from The House That Lars Built by Brittany Watson Jepsen (remember her Flowers and Cactus colouring books?) explores everything colour-related under the sun, from why certain colours work together and how to use them, to fun facts in colour history and quotes from artists and designers who share their favourites. And the projects! Three for each of the pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and white chapters, followed by 16 rainbow crafts for those who love them all. There are party crowns made from drinking straws, tasselled curtain tiebacks made of crepe paper and wooden blocks, paper plants in every colour of the rainbow and shoe clips that turn cupcake liners into works of art. Sounds amazing, right? Just wait ’til you see inside.
Abrams Books sent me a copy of Craft A Life You Love in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart.
As someone who frequently struggles with writer’s block, I’m always looking for new ways to get those creative juices flowing. (Unless they involve eating bugs. I don’t know why they would, but there I draw the line.) So I was excited to get an early copy of Amy Tangerine’s Craft A Life You Love: Infusing Creativity, Fun and Intention Into Your Everyday. Available today, it’s the newly updated version of her 2017 book of the same name (which I hadn’t read). This one includes 28 exercises (three more than the earlier book) around making time for the things that bring you joy, embracing your weird and how to be creative every day, plus a new chapter on discovering and cultivating your creative passions. Amy is known for turning her sewing hobby into an award-winning t-shirt line and her love of scrapbooking into a full-time business, as well as her online creative workshops and YouTube videos. In Craft A Life You Love, she shares some of her personal and professional struggles and the lessons, habits and tools that have helped her overcome them. Positive (but not sickening) and practical (but not simplistic), it’s a workbook I’m really enjoying working through, and think you will too. (And there’s nothing in it about eating bugs.)
Like the incredible cakes photographed in its pages, Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes by Tessa Huff has all of the ingredients for a delicious and satisfying read: 150 recipes for cakes, frostings, fillings and edible garnishes, gorgeous photography, and detailed instructions for all of the techniques to create them. (Everything from what to stock in your pantry and how to prepare your pans to how to check for doneness and master a variety of frosting finishes.) Classic cakes, chocolate cakes, casual cakes, whimsical cakes, adventurous cakes and holiday cakes are served up with the stories behind them and plenty of helpful troubleshooting tips. Bakers are encouraged (and inspired!) to think beyond chocolate and vanilla (tho you’ll find recipes for those too) and try something inventive and new: an orange passion fruit cake with ombre frosting reminiscent of an island sunset; a boozy banana espresso banana tiramisu cake perfect for dessert al fresco under strings of twinkly lights; and a peanut butter lover’s chocolate bombe topped with a dome of peanut butter mousse and a chocolate ganache so rich and decadent it can only mean I love you.
Yesterday I spent a pleasant couple of hours in the flow writing cards to some of the sweetest people in my world. It makes me happy knowing they’re going to find something bright and cheerful in the mail, just like I do every month with my stationery subscription from A Beautiful Mess. I love the Beautiful Mess girls and just about everything they do. Last summer they announced they’re working on a cookbook (yay!) but it’ll probably be another year and a half before it comes out (boo). Here’s four other highlights from last week.