Thursday, November 28, 2013


Maybe it's the olive hue. Perhaps the utilitarian shape, or the boiled wool fabric. All I know is that whenever I slip on this blazer, I feel like a character in a war-era novel, maybe off to work in a factory or support the resistance. Alas, it's a decidedly more modern purchase. The brand is Deane and White, which I've only ever seen at Winners and TJ Maxx, and sadly not anytime recently. The few items of clothing of theirs I've owned have been unexpectedly well-made, good value for money and impressively durable (M remembered that tiered sequined tank you took from my giveaway bag? D&W).

With the wrong pieces, the blazer risks looking drab. But a punch of colour takes it from fab! Here I tried it with a modernizing salmon-coloured linen jacket and a tightly wound ombre silk scarf in a similar shade. A pair of Swarovski earrings I got on my birthday (thanks S&A!) were a perfect match.

Do you have clothes that transport you to a different place or era? I'd love to hear about it in the comments. Better yet, leave me a link!


{Oops, time to clean the mirror!}

Blazer - Deane and White (also here)
Skirt - Banana Republic outlet
Scarf - Winners
Loafers - Cole Haan via DSW
Earrings - Gift

Monday, November 25, 2013

Maple-Dijon salad dressing

 I first tried some version of this salad dressing about a decade ago, during a potluck dinner at a coworker's cottage. Its flavour is reminiscent of poppyseed dressing, but without the crunch or sweetness overload. I got the recipe and used it for a number of years, before I misplaced it and sort of forgot about the whole thing. 

It popped back into my mind the other day as I was making dinner and wrinkling my nose at our usual go-to, olive oil and balsamic. I thought I'd try to recreate this dressing from memory. I can't even be sure the four ingredients are the same as the original, but it was just as good as I remembered! And insanely easy to whip up, particularly if you use commercial mayonnaise rather than homemade.


To make, vigorously whisk 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/3 cup maple syrup, 3T cider vinegar and 1T Dijon mustard until smooth. Yup, that's it. It's great on all kinds of salads. This one has dried cranberries, peanuts and pepitas.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Asian pear, fig and ginger chutney

When it comes to the flavour of pork, I'll take it or leave it. What I love is how imaginative you can get with accompaniments; pork can handle almost anything. In previous posts, I've skewered and grilled it with hunks of juicy, late-summer peaches, stuffed it with a sweet and salty combination of candied pecans, dried figs and blue cheese, and brushed it with a homemade sweet and sticky BBQ sauce, then slow-cooked it until it's falling off the bone

This time I wanted to try a homemade chutney accompaniment. We had a wholesale-sized bag of refrigerated dried figs (not realizing upon purchase they would need that precious real estate in the fridge), and thus a seed of a recipe idea was born. Asian pears (apple texture, pear flavour) and ginger rounded out the trio really nicely. Two things to note: I used candied ginger left over from a baking experiment, and reduced the quantity of sugar slightly. But fresh ginger would work just as well and that's what I suggest below. Also, the first night I left the chutney chunky, as in the photo below. When we wound up with leftovers, I decided to puree it and liked that even better! So my advice is to follow the steps below and ignore the photo. The chutney will keep for up to a week in the fridge; canning would extend its shelf life. Next time I may try adding a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg to the chutney as well.


Coarsely chop 3 Asian pears, 1 cup dried figs,  2 shallots and 2 cloves of garlic. Peel and grate 2T ginger.  Heat 1T vegetable oil over medium heat, then add shallots, garlic and ginger. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently until shallots become translucent. Add fruit, 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I served the chutney with a pork roast that I'd rubbed with Dijon, maple syrup, rosemary, thyme and pepper before cooking.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Braids and brogues

These are the last of my Euro-photos, and the only ones in an actual work outfit. Mixing masculine and feminine pieces is a recurring look for me; it makes me stand a little straighter (other examples here, here and here).

Since I knew I'd be travelling between meetings by metro and through parks, I went the sensible route with flats. And I have this weird thing against skirts and flats, hence the pants. A French braid, an oversized multi-strand pearl necklace and deep rose lipstick were the feminine counterpoints to patent and brass brogues and light grey wool trousers. 


Blazer - Calvin Klein
Pants - Theory via outlets
Brogues - Libby Edelman
Necklace - Road Trip
Earrings - Steelex
Glasses - Marc O'Polo
Watch - Kenneth Cole
Bag - Leo Monk

Friday, November 15, 2013

A little bit of New York in Brussels

I wanted to get another set of 'off-duty' photos in, even if it mean resorting to nighttime pictures once my work responsibilities were done for the day. I adjusted the brightness afterwards so my outfit didn't look like one big black blob. It was a damp and chilly evening  so I took a cue from New Yorkers and piled on monochromatic layers, plus my grey-and-black zebra print scarf seen peeking out of the bag.

Further down is a picture of one half of Grand-Place/Grote Markt in Brussels, the city's central square and ground zero for any visitor to the city. As you can see, it's spectacularly lit up at night. Brussels gets a bad rap within Europe and even within Belgium for being boring, something I've also heard ad nauseam about Ottawa. But I think it's got its own charms, plus great food. Mussels, beer, waffles, fries or chocolate anyone? 

There's an unspoken 'social pact' with my work team that whenever someone travels, they have to bring back treats. I'm still learning to choose amongst a plethora of brands. I picked up Dolfin chocolate for my immediate team and Marcolini for an overworked administrative coordinator who often lends a helping hand, and is also a die-hard chocoholic. Plus a few for me :)



Blazer - Banana Republic
Dress - ? (bought in a store in Bratislava)
Leggings - Gap
Belt - Ralph Lauren via consignment store
Boots - Blondo 
Bag - Leo Monk

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Meandering in Montmartre

When I first posted this cozy wrap sweater, I predicted it would become a favourite piece for travelling. And indeed it has. As these photos were taken a big windstorm was starting to blow in over the UK and France was getting the tail end. I was glad for extra layers in the form of a goose down jacket and tall boots, plus a warm beverage in hand. 

I was trekking up the hill in Montmartre for stunning views over the city amidst narrow cobblestone lanes, street artists and crêpe hawkers. As those of you who follow Coco and Vera's blog know, this city is truly magical. It oozes charm in every intricately carved wrought-iron post, every pitch-perfect Parisian accent and every pillow-soft croissant au beurre. My photos of Montmartre were mediocre (it was hard to hold my iphone steady with the wind!) so instead I leave you with that most iconic of Paris landmarks, the Eiffel Tower, as seen from the Trocadéro a few days prior.


Jacket - Lole
Sweater - Ted Baker via outlets
Leggings - Gap
Boots - Blondo
Belt - Ralph Lauren via consignment store
Bag - Leo Monk
Sunglasses - Andrea Jovine via Winners

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Sipping coffee on a juliette balcony in the 16e

A couple of weeks ago I travelled to Paris and Brussels for work. Downtime during job travel is usually very scarce but I got super lucky as there was a weekend in the middle. I got up early on Saturday to write a report to my boss-lady and catch up on reading, then enjoyed a cup of coffee before hightailing it to the metro to visit Versailles. What an amazing place!! Some very ominous-looking clouds didn't deliver the threatened rain, but made for a really cool shot of the 'golden gates'.



Shirt - Liz Claiborne via thrift store
Cardigan - Veronika Maine
Jeans - Forever 21
Shoes - Vince Camuto via outlets
Bracelets - Toronto boutique and hand-me-down
Watch - Kenneth Cole
Earrings - Gift

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Engagement photos

I'm excited to share photos from our engagement shoot. When researching wedding photographers, we looked for someone who could lend our photos a bit of a vintage quality, but without losing the sharpness or detail of the images. We knew we'd found our match in Anthony of Photolux Studios when I arrived with inspiration photos, culled from various places long since forgotten, and he revealed one of them was his own shot.

Our vision was for classic romance with a throwback European vibe. I borrowed a dress from a friend, and another friend's mom made a 2-layer tulle underskirt to give it a hint of poof. I was a little nervous doing my own nails using a drugstore kit. However, they turned out beautifully and lasted well over a week. I may do it again for the wedding and save on the manicurist fee. I also did my own makeup, but went to Sarah at Salon Bliss for a French roll updo. B wore a classic black suit and white shirt. Later, we both changed into more casual clothes for a few shots, but the dressier ones were by far our favourites. 

The photos were taken at Tabaret Hall on the University of Ottawa campus. We loved its soaring monolithic columns, modelled after the Capitol Building in Washington, and the ivy-covered stone walls. The wrought-iron gate around the side of the building was a bonus discovery. For B, the setting had added meaning, as the university is where he started his life in Ottawa and these photos represent the beginning of the rest.


{We used this one for our save-the-dates}

On me 
Dress - White House Black Market (borrowed)
Slingback pumps - Guess via Winners
Bracelet - Hand-me-down
Hair clip and earrings - Claire's
Nails - Kiss Custom Fit French manicure kit

Top - BCBG via outlets
Jeans - Forever 21
Ballet flats - Vince Camuto via outlets

On him
Suit - DKNY via outlets
Dress Shirt - Banana Republic
Shoes - Brown's

T-shirt - RW & Co.
Jeans - Banana Republic
Shoes - Call it Spring