Thursday, January 26, 2012

Washi tape manicure

One thing that I like to do weekly is paint my nails. Setting that time aside allows me an hour every week where I can just relax and do nothing while I literally wait for paint to dry. Usually I just pick one colour and go for it - changing it up based on season or mood. Lately though I've been intrigued by all the fun manicures on Pinterest and then, inspired by Kyla's post on washi tape manicures, I thought I'd give it a try.

I'm going to warn you right now - I don't have the steadiest hand so yes, I have nail polish on my cuticles. And speaking of cuticles, yikes! Disgraceful I know - picking them is a bad habit that I need to break.

Last week I tried out a manicure that starts with a tan base-coat (in this case San Tan-Tonio by OPI) and then adds fun pastely neon tips {Pinterest inspiration found here}. I chose a variety of colours from several different brands (from left to right: Revlon, Joe Fresh, Essie, Wet N Wild and Sally Hansen).


This week I went with a two-toned look (with sparkles!) and I'm loving it. I used two colours by Joe Fresh - teal and hunter - and I'm surprised by the quality. Each bottle is only $4 and two coats gave me just as much coverage as some of the more expensive brands. The sparkle polish is from Nicole by OPI. {See the original inspiration on Pinterest.}

Washi tape manicure

Even if you are an amateur manicurist (like me!) I urge you to try a washi tape manicure. Super easy, super fun, and best of all, M. loves it. She always strokes my nails and says, "I like your polish nails, Mommy!" Can it get better than that?

Have you given yourself a fun manicure?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mushroom arugula pizza

Yesterday I was at home with M. (for a variety of reasons, not least of which it was -30 C without wind chill!) and needed something quick and relatively healthy for lunch. I'm a big fan of the white mushroom pizzas from places like Without Papers, Una, and Double Zero but I didn't want to make dough, don't have truffle oil, and oh yeah, I don't have a pizza oven in my kitchen. So, in the spirit of using what I have, here is what I came up with.

Mushroom arugula pizza

Mushroom Arugula Pizza

1 plain naan or thick pita shell
Olive Oil
Black truffle salt
Mushrooms, chopped
8 year aged cheddar

Preheat oven to 350. Place naan on a cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil on your naan, brush all the way to the edges and sprinkle some black truffle salt on top. Put a couple slices of 8 year aged cheddar down and then sprinkle your chopped mushrooms on. Slide into the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling. Broil for a couple minutes to get some colour on the cheese. Toss some arugula on the pizza and let sit for a couple minutes. Enjoy!

The aged cheddar is quite strong so if you aren't a fan of the flavour, use a milder cheese. However, because the pizza as a whole is pretty mild, the cheese really adds some kick.

What is your favourite homemade pizza?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rullupylsa & Molasses Brown Bread

Every Christmas for as long as I can remember, my Amma made two things that were essential to the Walker family Christmas - rullupylsa and molasses brown bread. Rullupylsa is an Icelandic cured meat dish that is traditionally made with lamb flank (we use beef flank and always have). It is seasoned and tenderized and then left to cure in the fridge for a week. You then boil it for several hours and store it in the fridge. It will last for weeks - if it doesn't get eaten first.

My Amma passed away in 2003 so the responsibility for making this traditional food went to my Dad. My sister learned to make it a couple of years ago but strangely, it took until this past Christmas for me to learn (and cross an item off my life list!). Aside from loving to eat rullupylsa, I'm really happy that I can now carry on this tradition and introduce my own family to the delights of rullupylsa.

At the beginning of December we went out to my Dad's for a lesson and marathon assembly session (I think we made 11 total). I took some pictures to show the basic process and will also include the recipes for anyone wanting to try their hand at making it.


2 lb. flank steak, beef or lamb
3Tbsp Morton's Tender Quick meat cure salt
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped fine (almost pulverized)

Heavy thread
Heavy duty needle
Kitchen string
Plastic wrap
Tin foil

Lay the flank out flat. There is a thin membrane on one side of the flank - lay that side down so that when you roll the flank it is easier to sew closed. Mix the salt and spices and rub 3/4 of the mixture all over the flank. Spread chopped onion over 2/3 of the flank.

Roll the flank up starting from the end with onions - rolling will push the onions over the whole flank. Using the heavy thread and needle start sewing from the middle down to one end. Tie it off and return to the middle to sew the other side. Rub the remaining spices over the outside of the flank. Wrap your cylindrical flank tightly with kitchen string.

Wrap in two layers of plastic wrap and store in the fridge for 5 to 7 days, turning daily.

Boil for 2-3 hours, continually replenishing the water to keep the flank covered. Press with a pile of books or other heavy objects until cooled. Wrap with plastic and tin foil and freeze until needed.

Brown Bread

Makes 3 medium sized loaves

1 Tbsp yeast, dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tsp sugar
6 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp cooking oil
1/2 cup cooking or blackstrap molasses (NOT fancy)
3 cups warm water
4 to 5 cups white flour
4 to 5 cups whole wheat flour

Place the liquid in a large bowl with the sugar, salt, oil and molasses. Stir in 2 cups of flour and beat to form a smooth batter. Stir the yeast mixture well and stir into batter. Beat until mixture is very smooth and elastic. Work in remaining flour (you may not need it all) and knead until smooth, springy, and slightly sticky. Cover and let rise to double its size. Knead and let rise again. Shape into 3 medium sized loaves, place on parchment paper covered baking sheet, cut slits in the tops, and let rise for a final time. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Turn temperature down to 325°F and bake for another 30 minutes, depending on size of loaves. Loaves should be a nice golden colour.

This is quite a dense bread with the nice molasses flavour. Cut off a slice, butter it, and serve with a slice of rullupylsa on top. (We ate all the rullupylsa before I remembered to take a picture.)


Is there something your family eats every Christmas?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Picking Paint

We are at the point in our bedroom beautification process where I have convinced A. that painting the room would be a good idea and we've taped many swatches on the wall to try and narrow down a colour. I've been tracking down inspiration photos that use paint in my favourite colours and now I'm having a hard time narrowing it down.

Here are the front-runners.

This bedroom from West Elm is painted in Benjamin Moore's Marine Blue.

This fun space uses Benjamin Moore's Newburg Green.

I'm diggin' the drama of Benjamin Moore's Old Navy.

Another one that's captured my eye is Benjamin Moore's Twilight. Admittedly, I've only seen the Benjamin Moore colours online. I still need to go to our local store to pick up some paint chips.

Finally, we have two that have been living on our walls for a week and I'm liking them both.

Observatory by Behr

Admiral Blue by Olympic

We will need to pare it down to two or three colours and then get test pots for the final comparison.

Which one is your favourite?

Friday, January 06, 2012

I'm loving... cozy grey bedrooms

Our master bedroom is large. It's not huge but it's definitely bigger than we are used to and the empty corners tend to be black holes for crap. When we built the house we chose a buttery cream colour hoping that it would be a nice neutral but it's kind of turning our bedroom into a big blah box. We have a TON of natural light in the room (three southwest facing windows) which I think would lend itself well to having a darker colour on the walls. A while ago I did up an inspiration board and sent it off to A. He liked it but doesn't want to spend money on new furniture since we just bought ours when we moved back to Calgary in 2008. I'm hating the matchy-matchyness of the set but in the spirit of using what we have, I think I've come up with a plan.

Here is the inspiration board I came up with awhile ago. Forgive the shoddy quality - I created this using Microsoft Word. Ha!

I am obsessed with the Colette bed from Crate & Barrel but since that's not in the cards I am going to swap our bed with the LEIRVIK bed we currently have downstairs in the guest room. (The bed in the photo is actually a more affordable version of the Colette called the Beaconsfield from Sears.) While it was living in the guest room I had plans of painting the frame yellow but against a dark grey wall, I think the white frame will look quite nice. Perhaps something similar to this blue room seen on Design*Sponge.

I wanted to keep the big pieces pretty neutral and bring colour in in the form of seating and accessories. I think two slipper chairs would be perfect under our large south-facing window and in my corner of the room, a fun coat rack would be a great place to hang clothes we intend to wear again.

I have plans to make three map art pieces inspired by a photo seen on Pinterest and I'd like to hack the Ikea RAST 3-drawer chest so that we can split up our current matching side tables.

We are going to keep our big dresser but I would like a fun new (king sized! We tend to fight over the covers) duvet cover like this Lucia duvet cover from Crate & Barrel. A gift card I received for Christmas will go a long way in off-setting this cost. (Thanks Elaine!)

Maybe one day we can bring in a small writing desk to place under the window and change out the lamps, but for now I think this is a pretty good start to making our bedroom feel like a sanctuary. Here are a few rooms that are fueling the inspiration.

Have you painted any rooms in your house lately? Yearning for a change?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Healthy, wealthy, and wise

Happy New Year all! I hope you had an excellent Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus and that 2012 brings great things.

I try not to do resolutions per se (not a fan of the word), BUT I do have a few goals for the new year. Well, it's really just one time worn phrase but I think it fits well with the way I envision 2012 - to be healthy, wealthy, and wise.

for the love of tomatoesHealthy

Emotionally, mentally, and physically. This means better foods (unprocessed as much as possible) and continuing with the two activities I really enjoy - swimming and Ukrainian dancing. I'm planning on growing a vegetable garden for the first time ever and can't wait to see what it will yield. I need to take care of me so that I can take care of my family.

This means being content with my lot in life (more on that in the "Wise" portion) and showering the important people in my life with happiness and love.


A. and I do have savings and retirement plans in place but we could be doing better. One of our priorities is to travel and we plan to save more to make that happen. We also need to stick to a budget and spend waaay less on food. Going to the grocery store every day for meal specific ingredients is not a way to save money. With any luck, our vegetable garden will be a big help on this front in the summer. 


While I may not be going back to school any time soon, I intend to read about and research topics that interest me. I took an International Relations course when I lived in Vancouver and really liked it. Have I done any reading on the subject since then? Not really.

KnowledgeI need to realize my limitations and focus on what I excel at. There are so many incredible and inspiring people doing amazing things that it's difficult not to compare my achievements with theirs. The thing is, those are THEIR achievements and I'm sure there are things I've accomplished that many people haven't (eg. working in Afghanistan!). Am I a good cook? I like to think so. DIY? Maybe not so much. I will continue to try new things (lord knows I have enough projects on Pinterest) but I'm going to try really hard not to beat myself up if I don't get something perfect.

A. and I both have cases of "the grass is greener" and I plan on concentrating on and being happy with what we have RIGHT NOW. We miss Vancouver, want to live in Ontario, our house is too big, our yard is a mud pit. Maybe I can be happy with living in Calgary (close the the majority of both of our families) and the fact that we have a beautiful new home. It may not be magazine worthy but it is ours and it works for our family.

There was a great post on Apartment Therapy about Pinterest fatigue and loving the space you are in and I completely agree. It helps that we are finally starting to personalize the space (after a year!) by hanging art and it was great to get back to our own home after our Christmas holiday. It was a nice feeling, walking in the door and realizing how much I love our home. Absence does make the heart grow fonder.

Do you have any goals for 2012?