Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mediterranean-flavoured tuna salad

I've been eating cereal with bran buds and pomegranate seeds, plus fruit, for breakfast almost every day for over a year, and I'm not sick of it yet. My patience for tuna-and-mayonnaise sandwiches lasted maybe a week. 

Seeing flavoured cans of tuna at the grocery store inspired me. I hate that you're charged a premium for the flavoured versions over plain tuna, but it's easy enough to copy the idea at home.

This easy tuna salad lunch was made with one can of flaked light tuna in water, 2T sun-dried tomato pesto, 2 chopped black olives, 1 diced tomato and one roasted red pepper. For a heartier meal, add chopped lettuce and shredded cheese and use a filling for a wrap.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Teenage nostalgia

American Eagle was one of my favourite stores as a teenager. The clothes and ads filled with beautiful, toned bodies beckoned with fantasies of endless hazy summer days filled with concerts, friends, beaches and road trips. The reality was closer to chores, homework, after-school jobs, and the emotional roller coaster that came with navigating the eternally complicated world of teenage friendships and relationships. But, I still remember some of those absolutely perfect moments: standing on a skateboard rocking out to a great band, feeling the warmth of a sun-warmed car seat on the back of my bare legs when I slipped behind the wheel of my parents' car, or the titillating thrill of a flirtatious glance from a boy-crush. 

When I spotted this soft plaid flannel shirt at a thrift store, a wave of nostalgia washed over me and I bought it. Summer may still be a long way off, but I wrapped myself up in the memories of the carefree times of my youth. 



Jeans - Forever 21
Tank - Banana Republic
Top - American Eagle via thrift store
Vest - Eddie Bauer via thrift store
Boots - Ecco via Winners
Necklace - Gift
Earrings - Steelex

Monday, February 10, 2014

Israeli couscous with garlicky wilted kale and spinach

I've always been a fan of couscous, but trying pearl-size Israeli couscous for the first time opened up a whole new world of culinary possibilities. If sautéed beforehand, the grain takes on a nutty flavour, and it has a toothsome, al dente texture. 

I used this recipe (my own) as an opportunity to try another new-to-me ingredient: buddha's hand, which looks like a citrusy octopus and is ugly, in a beautiful kind of way (see picture further down). It has no juice, but the skin and white pith are sweeter and less bitter than a lemon. The 'tentacles' can be chopped up and added directly to dishes. I wasn't completely won over - I still found there was a bit of bitterness - but it was a neat experiment. This recipe serves 4.

 {Buddha's hand - Source: Wikipedia}


In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sauté 2 cups Israeli couscous in 1T vegetable oil over medium heat. Add 1.5 cups water, 1 cup vegetable broth and a bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, approx 20-25 minutes.

While the couscous is cooking, coarsely chop 1/3 cup macadamia nuts and dry sauté over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Set aside. 

Wash buddha's hand, then finely dice half the 'tentacles'.

Wash 1 head of kale and 4 packed cups of spinach. Shake off excess water. Cut away the coarse ribs, and roughly chop the kale and spinach leaves. 

Add spinach, kale and 3 tsp garlic to the same sauté pan used for the nuts. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are just wilted. (I find that the remaining water droplets on the kale and spinach mean you don't need oil, but if the garlic is starting to burn, add a little oil to the pan).  

In a serving bowl, combine couscous, kale, spinach, garlic and buddha's hand. Add the juice of one lemon, and toss gently to combine.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

We had this as a side dish with haddock.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Packing guide: work trip, Europe, fall/winter, 1 week

I was recently asked for advice on what type of clothes to pack for a fall/winter work trip. I thought I'd write this post as a follow-up to an earlier one, on a spring/summer work trip (here), where I also had gave some general tips for packing. 

This is what I brought to Paris and Brussels in late October. I was away for one week and I knew the weather would be cool and unpredictable, and that I'd have to walk a lot. I wasn't sure of the dress code for the Paris portion, so I assumed I'd need a blazer. I chose black as a base neutral and brought pieces that could be both layered, and mixed and matched. I actually started with the footwear and built my outfits up from there. I was lucky to have my girlfriend L over the night while I was starting to pack. She was an awesome sounding board!


{cashmere-blend long-sleeved black minidress; grey tweed dress}

Why? Both of these dresses can be layered. I've worn blouses under the grey one and the minidress can be worn with leggings underneath, or as a top when layered under a work skirt. The tweed dress is beautifully tailored and doesn't wrinkle, and the fabric is all business. The cashmere in the black dress is warm and oh-so-soft.

{burnt orange cropped cardigan; grey print swazer with leather accents; black stretch blazer}

Why? The black blazer is stretchy and wrinkle-free, the cut looks polished and it goes with everything. Same with the swazer, which also has on-trend leather piping. Both were small enough in the shoulders to fit under my jacket. The knit fabric and the cut of this cardigan make it a bit more sophisticated and suitable for Europe. 

{two statement necklaces; one gold chain necklace; gold earrings; silver earrings; watch; two bracelets}

Why? Since some of my outfits were slightly androgynous, I packed statement necklaces to give them a bit of flair. I kept things simple and small with the earrings, just one gold pair and one silver pair. I consider a watch an essential because it's easier to check discreetly than a phone. I threw in a couple of bracelets for good measure.

{slim puffer jacket; one wide and one narrow belt; structured handbag; zebra print scarf}

Why? The jacket is featherlight but also warm because of the goose down fill. It can double as a pillow or blanket on the plane. I layered up with the scarf and gloves on cool evenings. The scarf can be used as an outfit accessory or as outerwear. The belts and bag are toned-down neutrals but the texture adds dimension to outfits. The bag is roomy enough to stash an ipad and an extra pair of shoes.

{tall black flat boots; camel ballerina flats; black patent brogues; low black pointy-toed pumps}

Why? The tall flat boots are good for walking and can fit over leggings or skinny jeans. The rubberized shaft is waterproof, in case of rain (which I did get in Brussels). I wore the camel flats to walk to my destination, then changed into the low black pumps which I'd stashed in my bag. The brogues gave me a flat footwear option, and they cover more of the foot on colder days.

{one set of workout wear}

Why? I like to have the option to get some exercise, even if it didn't happen this time around. C'est la vie!

{cream knit tee; two camis in neutral colours; leopard-print silk blouse; blush cherry-blossom print blouse; cream wrap sweater}

Why? I had a bit more fun with colour and prints on the blouses, but nothing over-the-top. These are wrinkle-free, and with the exception of the sweater, pretty light. I wore the sweater on the plane because it can pretty much double as a blanket. The camis and tee were for miscellaneous layering.

{dark skinny jeans; black leggings; light grey wool trousers; black pencil skirt with gold detailing}

Why? One pair of dress pants and one pencil skirt were enough to mix and match with the rest. One pair of leggings and one pair of skinny jeans got me through my downtime.

Here are four of the outfits I wore; I wish I'd had a chance to photograph more of them, especially the actual work ones!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Three for three

Three times on the blog in a month. Clearly these are my new favourite jeans. My sister, a loyal blog reader, remembered me mentioning my love of stretchy, comfy blazers and got me this pretty grey one with a polka-dot lining for Christmas. The jeans and blazer looked great together, but I felt the outfit really came together with the print scarf and black wedges, which gave it a more graphic, modern feel.


Jeans - Banana Republic
Tank - Banana Republic 
Blazer - The Limited
Shoes - Aerosoles via thrift store
Scarf - Consigned
Earrings - Winners
Bracelets - Hand-me-downs