Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Instant hem extension

What do you do when you have a long-sleeved minidress that's too short for work and a sequined skirt that's too sparkly for work? Layer them. I used a beaded belt to tie together the moody blues and blacks. I found the belt at the thrift store with the original tag still on. It was expensive by secondhand standards ($15) but the beading continues around the back and is quite exquisite. Also it's from Tristan and they tend to make quality goods that hold up well. The original price was $65. 

The stonework behind me in the photos is the side of an abandoned building just down the street from where N and I work. We were happy to discover such a pretty and secluded little nook for photos. You will probably see us here again. I think it'll be really pretty after the first snowfall...if we can drag our butts out into the cold!


Skirt - Reitmans Petites (also here and here)
Dress - ? (bought in Slovakia)
Jacket - Thrifted (Femme de Carriere) (also here and here)
Shoes - Guess
Belt - Thrifted (Tristan)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sloppy Joe's

People who know me would not be surprised that I would find a way to make my Sloppy Joes look tidy. But here they are: my Tidy Joes. B and I were both pleased with how flavourful such a simple and quick recipe turned out to be that we changed very little about it. Like substituting green peppers for red. I can't condone using green peppers for anything except pizza. Anyways, this mixture is slightly sweet, so serving it on rye toast gives it nice balance. We melted some marble cheese on top before serving.

To make, brown 1 lb lean ground beef, 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1/4 cup chopped red pepper in a skillet over medium heat, then drain off liquids. Ensure beef is fully cooked. Add 3/4 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup HP sauce, 3 T brown sugar, 1 tsp prepared yellow mustard, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder and pepper to taste. Mix well. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes (the recipe says 30 but you don't need to wait this long). Serve on rye toast with melted cheese on top.
    You can find the original recipe here.

    Saturday, October 27, 2012

    40s-inspired wedding guest wear

    Your average blog photoshoot is subject to all kinds of challenges: a forgotten accessory, bad weather, creepy onlookers, falling darkness or a general lack of opportunity. But once in a blue moon, things come together, as they did here. (OK, I did forget my clutch but I took a photo later). B and I were attending a wedding at a heritage farm in the outskirts of the city. My usual photographers/friends were either staying warm under thoughtfully-provided blankets during the cocktail hour, or tending to their newborn baby, so I didn't want to ask them. Luckily, I was able to snag B for 5 minutes in between groomsman duties - otherwise this outfit would have been filed under 'lack of opportunity'The ceremony was outdoors so I wore a coat which you can see in one of the photos below. The reception was in a heated tent but since I tend to be cold ALL THE TIME I played it safe with a faux-fur shrug and elbow-length gloves. This outfit is a mish mash of previous wedding guest attire - I wore the shrug with a long black column dress for a more formal wedding in the spring (here) and the dress with pearls and gold accessories last year (here). 

    And the bride? Already very pretty, she looked stunning. Her cutest accessory, apart from her new hubby, was without a doubt the bright teal shoes peeking out from underneath her dress. S, if you're reading this, félicitations ma belle!




    Dress - Thrifted (Laundry by Shelli Segal) (also here)
    Belt - Thrifted (also here and here)
    Shrug - Laura (also here)
    Gloves - Jacob
    Shoes - Guess via Winners
    Clutch - from my grandmother's closet

    Friday, October 26, 2012

    Trend trial run: Cropped sweater

    You know the marshmallow test they do with young children? Where kids who are given a marshmallow and can refrain from eating it for 15 or 20 minutes are rewarded with a second marshmallow? I wish the same was true of the Jacob gift card I carried around for the better part of a year. A couple of weeks ago I decided to finally redeem it for a marked-down cropped sweater. Knit pieces that can be layered for work are ALWAYS great come January (at which point I'll add a blazer). I have to admit though, I'm not convinced this trend works for me, though I've always liked a strip of colour peeking out from under a top (another example here).

    The jeans, bought in Geneva this summer, were a no-brainer. They fit well, look great with high heels and have cute stitching down the front and CHECK OUT THE DISCOUNT ON THE PRICE TAG BELOW!!!!


    T-shirt - Jacob
    Sweater - Jacob
    Jeans - Habitual
    Booties - Old Navy
    Necklace - Road Trip via sample sale
    Ring - Le Chateau
    Earrings - Gift

    Monday, October 22, 2012

    Maple-caramelized brussel sprouts with Grand Marnier

    Guys, I'm kind of obsessed. With brussel sprouts. I don't know where these have been all my life or why people have such a hate-on for them. They're such a cute and compact little vegetable, and filled with healthy nutrients. You've probably figured out that I like anything caramelized, and this recipe (my own) fits the bill with sticky maple syrup and orange-flavoured Grand Marnier.  This recipe serves 4. 

    To make, start with 4 cups of brussel sprouts. Trim the bottoms and slice in half vertically. Thinly slice one red onion. Heat 1T olive oil into a large heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high. Add onions and cook for one minute, stirring regularly. Add brussel sprouts and 1/4 cup maple syrup (no Aunt Jemima s'il vous plait, use the real stuff). Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brussel sprouts achieve desired level of browning. Note that a couple of the outer 'leaves' of the brussel sprouts may come off during cooking. When cooking is complete, remove from heat and add 2oz Grand Marnier and stir to combine. 

    {I kept browning for several minutes more after this photo}

    Sunday, October 21, 2012

    Fall layers

    There's a homeless shelter in my neighbourhood and I've been amused to discover that walking by gives me an automatic reading on my outfits. Without fail, on days when I clearly haven't put any effort into my appearance, I don't get any comments. But on days when I leave the house wearing something banging, there's always a word or two. Who knew the fashion sense of the homeless population was so fine-tuned? The burgundy colour of this trench coat was a hit. But their favourite outfit seems to have been this one (note the same floral top seen in this post). 

     I may wear a lot of dresses and skirts on the blog but I'm a pants girl at heart, so I felt completely at home in this outfit. The equestrian-style Canadian-made leather boots are one of my favourite thrift store finds. It's really really hard for me to find boots that fit my narrow calves (even these are big and can't be taken in). I recently discovered Duo boots, which makes footwear for narrow and wide calves, and am eyeing some of their flat black boots as an potential investment piece. Have any of you heard of/tried them? What do you find hard to shop for?


    Jacket - Banana Republic
    Jeans - Seven via Winners
    Blazer - Thrifted (Elie Tahari)
    Floral top - hand-me-down (Olsen)
    Brown top - Dynamite
    Scarf - Gift
    Belt - ? (Australia)
    Boots - Thrifted (Etienne Aigner)
    Socks - F21
    Sunglasses - Andrea Jovine via Winners
    Brooch - from my grandmother's closet
    Earrings - Claire's

    Saturday, October 20, 2012

    Fennel and green apple salad

    I came up with this salad on a whim after a few days of having a fennel bulb stare up at me from my fridge crisper. Out of curiosity, I later googled some of the ingredients. It turns out variations of this salad exist online, but I'm still giving myself some credit! Nuts are an option; I'd thought of adding pistachios but couldn't be bothered to de-shell them. I had leftover salad the next day and found it tasted even better once the vinaigrette had had time to be absorbed. So I would recommend making this a couple of hours in advance of serving if possible.

    Combine one chopped fennel bulb, one peeled, cored and chopped green apple (I'm allergic to unpeeled raw apples; leaving the skin on is more nutritious), 3 stalks chopped celery and a large handful of raisins. 

    To make vinaigrette, vigorously whisk 1T walnut oil, 2T cider vinegar and 1T honey. Season to taste.

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

    Lady in red

    My #1 wardrobe rule when attending weddings is to not upstage the bride. So the idea of wearing head-to-toe red initially gave me pause. But this bride is particularly laid-back, and hers was a rustic/woodsy-themed fall wedding held in northern Ontario, where the foliage is an explosion of crimson, sienna and goldenrod. I pretty much blended into the background. And the conservative cut of the dress ensured I wouldn't offend any traditional Catholic sensibilities, though I let loose below the ankle.  

    This round of photos is a 2nd attempt. The first round didn't turn out at all despite the best efforts of my friend P (thank you my dear!!) - I didn't adjust the settings properly for the dim lighting and I was rushing to get away from the creepy guy staring at us. Being in my parents' backyard was much more carefree. 


    {If you're wondering what this pose is about, B said the bush looked like a peacock tail.}

    Dress - Vintage (Bretton's) (also here and here)
    Shoes - Shoe Republic via sample sale (also here)
    Jacket - Danier Leather
    Necklace - Laura's
    Earrings - Walmart
    Bracelets - Hand-me-downs

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    Marinated tofu with vegetables and peanut-coconut-lime drizzle

    This recipe comes from a fantastic restaurant cookbook, Rebar, given to me by friends. Other than a few minor changes (like switching up the veggies, and serving it over rice noodles instead of steamed jasmine rice), I generally followed the recipe. I love the idea of infusing coconut milk with lime leaves and ginger - it imparts an intoxicating aroma. Be sure to account for the time needed to marinate the tofu and for the infusion.

    To prepare tofu:
     Combine in a small saucepan 1/4 cup light soya, 2T dark soya, 2/3 cup water, 2T lime juice, 1T minced ginger, 1tsp minced garlic, 1tsp sambal oelek, 2T sugar, and pepper to taste. Heat mixture to a simmer and cook for 5 min. Remove from heat and add 1/4 cup chopped basil. Slice 2 blocks of firm tofu in half so you end up with four thinner slabs. Place tofu slabs in a large Ziploc bag, pour marinade over and refrigerate for up to 6 hours. Remove tofu. Marinade can be reused in a stirfry.

    To make peanut sauce:
    Heat 1/2 can coconut milk, 6 kaffir lime leaves and 2T minced ginger in a small saucepan over low heat. Cover, turn off heat and let the liquid infuse for an hour. Then re-heat and whisk in 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter, 1T soy sauce, 1/4 tsp Thai red curry paste, 1T sugar, 2T lime juice, 1/2 sambal oelek and 2T hot water.

    To cook vegetables and tofu:
    Heat 1T peanut oil in a skillet and fry tofu until golden on both sides. 
     Thinly slice 1 yellow onion, 2 medium carrots, 6 oz snow peas, 1 large red pepper and 1 medium zucchini. (I replaced the carrots and snow peas with kale.) Heat 1T peanut oil in a wok and stir-fry vegetables until tender-crisp, adding some of the reserved tofu marinade.

    To serve:
    I served the tofu and vegetables over rice noodles instead of jasmine rice. Drizzle with peanut sauce and garnish with crushed peanuts, basil and lime.

    Friday, October 12, 2012


    I know, I know, cougars don't have spots. (Actually, I didn't. I google imaged to check). But I felt a bit like that other kind of cougar when I wore this to a bar that, in my university years, was known for its older crowd. As if I wasn't sufficiently aware of the passage of time, a rumour also got started that it was my birthday, so several strangers came up to wish me well. I even wound up with a Birthday Girl button pinned to my shirt. Sometimes it's best just to roll with it...and knock back shots like it IS your big day.


    (In an effort to redeem myself in the realm of animal kingdom knowledge, here is a picture of a leopard/cat mix. For real, they exist. One of my friends in university had one, a 15-pound kitten at the time. How freakin' crazy?!)


    Shirt - Thrifted (Liz Claiborne)
    Skirt - Zara
    Necklace - Banana Republic
    Tank - Winners
    Earrings - Gift
    Clutch - Gift
    Shoes - Liz Claiborne via Winners