May 31, 2010

lemon raspberry oatmeal muffins.

Finding out I was allergic to wheat one year ago took a toll on my baking adventures. I am still learning how to substitute different flours into my baked goods to yield similar results (and taste) as using good ol' all purpose flour. Many of these trials have resulted in sub-par baked goods or outright failures, but on Saturday morning I baked some muffins, and boy, were they delicious!
These muffins are light and fluffy with a mild lemon flavour that compliments the raspberries just right. This tangy citrus flavour is balanced out nicely by the sweet oat meal, making this a delicious recipe that is easy to make.
Lemon Raspberry Oatmeal Muffins

Adapted from The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook, by Elizabeth Baird.

The original recipe calls for two cups of all-purpose flour so if you'd like to do that, feel free. Even if you aren't allergic to wheat or have a sensitivity to gluten, using different flours in your everyday baking is a great way to integrate more food types into your diet. Different grains have different benefits, and everyone's body can use more diversity in the types of foods we eat.

This recipe also calls for buttermilk. If you don't have buttermilk on hand, don't worry, I never do either. Instead for every 1 cup of buttermilk called for in a recipe use one cup of regular milk with 1 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice stirred together and left to sit for 10 minutes to let the acid permeate the milk. There, you have a pretty close resemblance to butter milk.

1 cup oat flour
1 cup buckwheat flour (these are the two I chose for this recipe, but choose whatever types you want)
1¼ cup buttermilk
1 cup packed brown sugar
1½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup quick coking rolled oats

1 Tbsp. grated lemon rind

2 eggs

⅓ cup vegetable oil (I use canola because it is very flavour neutral)

1 tsp vanilla

¾ cup frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 375℉.

In a large bowl combine flour and buttermilk. Let sit for 10 minutes (or longer, make ahead the night before and allow to sit overnight - soaking the grains makes the muffins nice and moist).

To the flour and buttermilk mixture add brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, rolled oats and lemon rind.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, and vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Sprinkle frozen raspberries (feel free to use more than amount above) over mixture and fold into batter.

Spoon into greased or paper-lined muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes or until tops are firm to the touch. Let cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool completely.

Yield: 24 muffins (although the original recipe says 12, so I guess it depends on how much you pour into your muffin cups - I filled them ¾ full).

Store in airtight contain for 2 days or freeze for up to 2 weeks.

May 26, 2010

hitting the wall.

What to do with an empty wall?

Hang a collection of different pieces of art (on the cheap)

Hang any collection:

Not sure how to hang your collection on your wall? Then check out the nifty design*sponge video below of Amy Merrick sharing how she hung her plate wall.

May 25, 2010

urban garden.

In Canada, Victoria Day - the wonderful kick off to cottaging long holiday weekend in May - is also a great opportunity to get the garden growing. Although we live in a small apartment with only a few plants, in the spirit of outdoor gardening I want to share a great book I read a few weeks ago by Gayla Trail of the ten-year strong gardening project You Grow Girl. The book is Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces and while it specifically targets the challenges of growing food in small urban spaces, there are tips and tricks throughout the book that anyone interested in growing their own fruits and vegetables will benefit from.

My favourite thing about the book is that it actually makes me feel like I have a chance of growing great food in my own small space. The book empowers you by providing lots of information about countering pest infestations in natural ways and also reviews a variety of different fruits and vegetables and what sort of environment they require in order to survive. She also includes lots of tips and tricks for container gardening (even growing upside down tomatoes!). Gayla also includes a few recipes and preserving techniques for your bountiful harverst. She makes gardening look like something that you are able to accomplish and enjoy the results of your hard work regardless of the space you are gardening in. Run to your local library or favourite bookstore to get your hands on a copy of this wonderful guide - you won't be disappointed.

find more previews of the book here

May 22, 2010

friendly music.

I want to continue on the thread of awesome-music-made-by-people-we-know from yesterday.
This first video is made by my old camp friend's husband Mike. The entire song - Firefly by Owl City - is composed using just his voice, mouth, and drinking glasses. He is amazing and this video will surely blow you away.

And if your head has not completely exploded yet at his amazing talent and ability to put together such complex sounding music, check out his cover of Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus.

As well, I need to mention that Shad is coming out with a new album on May 25. He is a super talented hip hop artist from Canada who does not spend time rapping about money, sex, and power - but issues that are real while using witty lyrics and impeccable rhythm. You can get his new single before the album comes out here and see all of his work here.
Below is one of his music videos - one of my favourite music videos of all time.

Update June 24: Mike was recently on Canada AM. Check out the video here. Also, Shad's album is out and it is great!

May 21, 2010

peanut butter cups.

Last night, for 'girls' night,' I had an opportunity to make some peanut butter cups. All week I had been craving some choclate-y goodness so when I was given the opportunity to make the dessert for our night I just had to make these delicious little cups.
Best when slightly chilled, these little guys are very sweet with just the right amount of saltiness - just enough salt that it seems an afterthought. If not restrained, I could probably gobble up half a dozen of them and then suffer a sugar-high for the next week and a half. These babies are sweet and good, but a single one makes a good serving (or two ... depending on how long the 'dessert portion' of your meal lasts into the evening).
The original recipe is found in Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon (Ten Speed Press) - a book I first discovered here. I followed her recipe precisely for the batch I made last night.
The original recipe calls for confectioners' sugar but I think that substituting fine sugar or granulated sugar in place of the confectioners' sugar will make the inside just a teensy bit grainier and even more crumbly - something I thought would add just a little additional texture to these lovely peanut butter cups.

Peanut Butter Cups
Adapted slightly from Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It

1 cups fresh roasted and salted peanuts
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon neutral vegetable oil, like canola or sunflower
2 tablespoons fine or granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt


2 cups chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

I used milk chocolate, a chocolate I love, which made them very sweet. For less sweet cups use semi-sweet or dark chocolate.

Place paper or silicone liners in cupcake pan nearby.

To make the filling, in a food processor, puree the peanuts for 3 to 4 minutes, until they are very smooth - almost like the creamy peanut butter you buy at the store.

Add the honey, oil, sugar, vanilla, and salt and puree until completely combined.

Using about 2 teaspoons at a time, form 12 evenly sized balls of the peanut butter mixture and flatten into discs that will fit into the centre of the cupcake liner but not touch the sides.

To prepare the coating microwave the chocolate on high for 1-minute, stir well with a fork to distribute the heat. Microwave for 1-minute more and stir again. You may possibly have to heat your chocolate for another 30 - 60 seconds, what you're aiming for is melted chocolate that looks satiny and comes off the fork in ribbons with no clumps.

Working quickly, place just less than a tablespoon of chocolate in the bottom of a liner. Move the chocolate around so it completely covers the bottom and the sides part-way up. Gently drop the peanut butter disc into the centre of the liner and tap it gently into the chocolate, being careful not to push it all the way through the chocolate to the bottom.

Cover the peanut butter centres with another half-tablespoon (approximate) of chocolate, covering the top completely and allowing it to surround the sides of the peanut butter centre.

To smooth to tops either use a spoon or gently shake the cupcake pan. Let sit, undisturbd, for at least 4 hours, until the cups harden completly.

Note: After waiting 4 hours, our cups were still not solid (and we ate our first 'taste-test' cups with a spoon). Although advised in the cook book not to refrigerate, I have and they taste delicious and slightly hard and they melt ever-so-slowly in your hand as you eat them.

These will store up to 2 weeks in an airtight container, that is, if you don't eat them all immediately.

Yield: 12 peanut butter cups

the city harmonic.

Last Saturday Caleb and I went to the CD release concert for The City Harmonic. Self described as 'what happens when you mix nostalgic hymns, brit-rock and that sing-at-the-campfire feeling,' The City Harmonic is simply amazing.
This was their first concert and they sure rocked it. They sang through their entire EP and were fresh, fun, and full of talent.
And boy, was it loud! The bass sometimes shook the entire room, it felt like the music was coming from inside you instead of at you. The audience was really excited. Lots of friends and family were there to support them (even Caleb's grandma and grandpa!). It was a really fun time.
The band is made up of Elias Dummer, Eric Fusilier, Aaron Powell, and Josh Vanderlaan. It was great seeing our friends/family in the band do such a great job at their first concert as The City Harmonic.
The City Harmonic has enormous amounts of talent and it is fun listening to their EP and watching them in concert. I hope that you have an opportunity to hear them sometime soon.

Want to experience more from The City Harmonic? Watch the creation of their EP, join their Facebook Group, or follow them on Twitter.

May 20, 2010

sunday afternoon basketball.

Last Sunday was spent with Caleb's family in his hometown. His sister and I got to watch Caleb and his brother play some HORSE basketball in the driveway.
They were both pretty talented, I'm not too sure who won.
p.s. Nice jump shot, you look pro.

May 17, 2010

a stitch in time... is sublime.

Good morning! I hope that you had a really nice weekend. Caleb and I had a super weekend and I will hopefully share some of it with you over the course of this week - lots of pictures included. But this morning, I want to start the week off by sharing with you some great embroidery patterns that my friend Meg (of City Love) showed me over the weekend when we were discussing our newfound interest in all things embroidery. The site is Sublime Stitching and it showcases kits and patterns that can be purchased to embroider, but I think it is also great to get inspired by. The patterns featured on this site are not just your grandmother's patterns, they're new and interesting and full of creativity.

Also, if you're not sure how to embroider and are looking to learn, jump on over to the Stitch School blog by Janet McCaffrey. Although I haven't started embroidering anything yet, her simple tutorials on all the different types of stitches look easy enough to use and encourage me to start this different (and vintage?) art form.

May 13, 2010

sharon montrose.

Are you ready for an overload of all things adorable? This post will definitely satiate your cute quota for possibly the next month or few. Sharon Montrose is a photographer based out of Los Angeles who photographs babies, kids, and animals. I think her best known work is of baby animals like the ones below. You can see her blog here, her website here, and her etsy shop here for even more cuteness.
Here are some of my favourites of hers (click on the label below the picture to see them at her store).
(Dear Caleb: I have a super weak spot for basset hounds.)

I think I could go on forever, if you think you can too then go check out her etsy store, it is full of amazing photographs of all things wild (even a baby giraffe).
Want to know how she got started? Check out the video below.

May 12, 2010

cover and colour by book.

Kathleen over at Twig & Thistle has recently created projects and posts that are right up my alley. So, pardon me for blogging about all the great things she's doing over there, I just can't help it, they're so perfect!
Today I am liking her book cover and bookmark post. She shows how simply covering a book and inserting a cute bookmark makes a great favour/place card for a wedding. I love this idea because I love books and I think it would be so sweet to give your favourite book or collection of stories/poems to everyone you invite to your wedding. (And it would even be better if you and the fiance had a favourite book together.)

But, it is not only a good idea for a wedding. I've ocassionally thought over the past year about covering all the books I own in cream coloured sheets of paper or else in coordinating paper as seen over at Twig & Thistle. Right now my books are organized by colour (but do not look quite like the image below). I think that creating shelves of books with the same cover and then writing in pencil down the side the title and author would be visually appealing as well. I think I'll wait to try it until we get a home with cream coloured book shelves because it probably wouldn't look too good in a dark brown bookcase.

May 11, 2010

a crash and concrete.

Today I want to share with you this 'house crashing' sneak peek found over at Young House Love of Kara's, from Made 2 Create, house in Tulsa, Oklahoma (see the couple of photos below). Kara and her husband furnished their house using only garage sale or Craigslist finds, or from making items themselves. Their home is a really great one to find some inspiration in while remaining really budget friendly, and second-hands finds are also easy on the environment. Some of my favourite ideas in their home are the faux fireplace, the mason jar light fixtures (which I've seen here too), and the concret countertops in their kitchen. The different styles of their bedrooms are really fun too. Be sure to check out the whole tour over at Young House Love.

In fact, I am enamoured with the idea of concrete counter tops and table tops right now. I hope maybe Caleb will fall for them (well, as only a boy can) and want one in our future home. Kara's husband also created a tabletop and there are do-it-yourself tutorials for concrete counter tops and tables all over the internet (such as, at first glance, here, here, and here).

Apparently concrete countertops are common in many other parts of the world, but aren't too popular in North America. They look super sweet though and I'm wondering if they'd be comparable to granite (without the high cost) or if they're porous and absorb any spill that happens on them. Definitely want to do more research into them - they're very visually different than anything I've seen before.

May 5, 2010

twig & thistle personal library kit.

I know I just blogged about bookplates a few weeks ago, but I just have to share this update with you. Twig & Thistle (who I know I just blogged about yesterday, but really, she has some good stuff going on over there) has shared some free downloadable library card pockets and checkout cards she designed that you can print at home, package up, and give as a gift or keep for yourself. Such a sweet idea. To download the two part package and to see her post click here.
Hope you have fun making your book collection beautiful.

May 4, 2010

it's raining (cats) and dogs.

With springtime comes rain. Although it isn't raining here today I just had to share with you these photos of Twig & Thistle blogger Kathleen's dog Tula. Isn't she just adorable?
When I was younger and our dog Shadow was just a puppy he used to wear a little red and blue sweater outside in the winter... that is until my dad told him that he looked ridiculous one day and Shadow refused to ever put it on again.

Hope these pictures satiate your cuteness-meter for the day.

May 3, 2010

ruche wall decor.

As a follow up to my own wall decor, I wanted to share with you these neat (and DIY) ideas from Ruche. They used them as backgrounds in their lookbook, but I think they would add a great deal of interest to your own home. Also, these are great ideas for renters to decorate their rooms because they use materials that do not damage the walls - so you can create beautiful walls with no worries about paying extra at the end of your renting period. For full do-it-yourself instructions, click here.

May 2, 2010

the young victoria.

I love watching period pieces, well really any film that takes place in the past. A few of my favourites are Pride and Prejudice (the old version too), Persuasion, Ever After, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Tristan and Isolde, Marie Antoinette, Bright Star, anything really. So that is why I'm so surprised that it's taken me this long to discover The Young Victoria starring Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend.
Can't wait to see it.
Update: I watched the film this past week (June) and loved it!

May 1, 2010

easy fabric banner.

I really like celebrations. I love hanging things from the ceiling to celebrate, but I also like making banners so people know what the celebration is about.
If you like making banners, you'll probably love Britt McMaster of Cucumbersome's quick and easy way to make a banner found here.

(I also like the Japanese masking tape she uses in the above photo.)
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