Friday, June 29, 2012

A sundress and a floppy hat

I thrifted this casual sundress last fall and waited a full 9 months to pull it out of my closet. I like how the wavy stripes evoke an animal print and create an illusion that keeps the eye roving. The mid-calf length, while not my usual style, is great for showing off fun footwear. I originally planned to wear this dress with black sandals, until I realized my pink ones were a perfect colour match for the roses along the hem. I added a floppy hat that always seems to remind me of Samantha's patio scene from Sex and the City, minus the extramarital dalliances. I'm ready to relax on a patio with a colourful cocktail! On that note, happy long weekend to my fellow Canucks.



Dress - Thrifted
Hat - Winners
Pins (on hat) - Thailand markets
Shoes - Guess via Winners
Earrings - Walmart
Necklace - Gift

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Packing Guide: Work trip, Europe, late spring, 2 weeks

How do you pack for a 2-week work trip in late spring? Find out the dress code. Choose wrinkle-resistant clothes that can mix and match, and layer, easily. Plan for cool, air-conditioned or rainy weather. If you're be walking a lot (check) or toting a lot of paperwork (check), bring some flat footwear. Pack one evening-worthy outfit (LBD & blazer), and comfortable clothes for the hotel or plane (stretch skinnies & tunic; yoga pants & hoodie). 

Scroll down to see what I packed and some of the outfits I pulled together, and for a list of fail-proof packing tips. Do YOU have any packing tips not included here? I'd love to hear them!


What I packed:

{Hooded sweatshirt; two three-quarter sleeve cardigans; cashmere-blend tunic}

{Three blazers in neutral colours, including one long blazer}

{Bottoms in neutral colours - two skirts, shorts, stretch skinny jeans, dress pants}

  {Two three-quarter sleeve button-downs; four mix-and-match tops in fun prints or textures.} 
{Not pictured: nautical-style shirt and silk button-down added at last minute}

{Stretchy, wrinkle-resistant dresses - LBD, shift, maxi}

{Three camis; yoga pants, two casual tees, two workout tops, running shorts, two PJ shorts}
{Not pictured: floral cami added at last minute}

{Accessories: Camera bag/purse, laptop bag, sunglasses, hat, hosiery, two pashminas, two belts.}
{Not pictured: tote purse}

{Footwear - three pairs ballet flats, one pair pumps, one pair booties, one pair running shoes}

{Rainwear - trenchcoat, umbrella}

(Some of) what I wore:

{Get creative: I layered this top over my LBD.}

Packing tips:
- Luxurious pashminas can double as a blanket on a plane. Inexpensive ones can be used to sit on during a picnic.
- Bring earplugs to help you sleep in noisy places.
- Pack one or two full outfits in your carry-on in case the airline loses your luggage.
- Pre-pack your <100 mL liquids in a small Ziploc bag. 
- Stay organized by rolling clothes and packing them into large Ziploc bags. This is especially handy for backpacks or if you have to unpack and repack often.
- If space is at a premium, pack items in a vacuum-seal bag (but watch the weight).
- Plastic or cloth grocery bags are handy for leaky toiletries, soiled laundry etc.
- Pack snacks and an empty water bottle to fill once you're past security.
- Wear shoes that require socks so you're not going through airport security barefoot.
- Decant liquid beauty products into travel-sized containers.
- To the extent possible, pack wrinkle-free or wrinkle-resistant clothes.
- Pack small jewellery in pillboxes.
- Plan outfits in advance and photograph them to ensure you're not overpacking.
- If you make a packing list, bring a copy with you for the return (especially if you'll be staying somewhere where your stuff will get mixed up with others').
- Raid the dollar store. I've found everything from mesh head covers for a night spent outdoors in Australian outback to pouch-sized rain ponchos for a backpacking trip.
- Use every nook and cranny. I stuff socks or camisoles into shoes.
- Bring something comforting, like your favourite tea or fuzzy socks.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Turkey burgers with dried fruit relish

 Making dinner one night was supposed to be a simple affair. Until I realized I didn't have a lot of my usual ingredients on hand. Out of the deep freezer came a package of ground turkey for burgers. I thought I could serve them with cranberry sauce. Didn't have any. Mayo? Nope. Fruit salsa? I had some cilantro, but no fresh fruit, lime or jalapenos. Then I remembered a gifted tin of dried fruit still sitting in our cupboard I could use instead. I decided pickled hot peppers from a jar could stand in for the jalapenos. The result was juicy and hearty burgers offset with a pleasant sweet zing from the salsa. I used the leftover salsa on grilled chicken breasts another night. This recipe serves 4-6.

To make burgers:
In a large bowl, gently mix 2 lbs ground turkey, 1 lightly beaten egg, 3/4 cup breadcrumbs, 2T flax seed, 2 cloves chopped garlic, one bunch finely chopped green onion, 1/2 tsp celery salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper. Gently form into 8 patties. BBQ over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, turning once. Alternatively, bake at 400 for 12 minutes, turning once, then finish by broiling for an extra minute.

To make salsa:
Chop 1/3 cup dried apricots, 1/3 cup dried cherries and 1/3 cup dried pears, 1/4 cup pickled hot peppers, 1/4 cup cilantro and 1/4 red onion. Place fruit, hot peppers and cilantro in a medium bowl. Add juice of one lemon (or lime), 1T orange juice, 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp ground coriander and salt to taste.  

Serve burgers open-faced on toasted whole-wheat buns and top with salsa.   
Salsa recipe adapted from here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Proscuitto-wrapped asparagus with balsamic reduction

This savoury variation on melon-and-prosciutto is very easy to prepare, looks elegant and makes a great appetizer. The saltiness of the prosciutto pairs nicely with fresh, tender-crisp asparagus.

To prepare asparagus:
Start with a bunch of asparagus. Snap off the fibrous bottom part of the stem (which can be kept for flavouring soups), then steam until tender-crisp. Cut pieces of Italian prosciutto in half lengthwise. You'll need one for every two asparagus. Tightly wrap the prosciutto slices around pairs of asparagus.

To prepare dipping sauce:
 In a small saucepan, reduce 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar over medium heat until slightly syrupy. Remember it will continue to thicken slightly as it cools. Alternatively, use an aged balsamic vinegar and skip the reduction step. Whisk in 1 tsp Dijon mustard and add pepper to taste. Serve as a dipping sauce beside the asparagus, or pour sauce into a squeeze bottle and drizzle over asparagus.