10.20.2014

Dia de Muertos: Menu and a lazy Horchata recipe

For those following me on Instagram, you were privy to photos of the dinner menu I put together for my fella's birthday. Over the last few months, we have developed a bit of a romantic relationship with all sorts of Mexican food, and so I carried that love into his birthday dinner. I couldn't resist following up last week's Dia de Muertos post with the full details (scroll down to the end for a Horchata recipe).




After having a beautiful sugar skull clock custom made for him, I knew a subtle Dia de Muertos themed evening was pretty much the greatest idea ever. Nothing like a good gift to set me up for a themed adventure! I ordered a cute little party banner from Kiwi Tini on Etsy, draped a cute scarf and fabric over my table, put a fun Mexican dance/salsa mix on Songza and voila! My kitchen oozed with colourful, spicy atmosphere.




Here is a shot of the menu I doodled for the occasion:




After a few requests for recipes, I thought I'd be a doll and put all the links in one place. Below are the menu items and the links to the websites/blogs I found them on. For once in my life, I followed recipes pretty closely and so there are limited substitutions to report!! The one exception is the Horchata rice pudding--see notes below for details (and my take on a Horchata recipe).

If the thought has crossed your mind to host a Dia de Muertos dinner party for Halloween this year, look no further than this menu:




Dia de Muertos Themed Dinner Menu


Drink:
Pomegranate Mojito Mocktail (via www.soberjulie.com)


Starter:
Gorditas "Little Fat Ones" (via www.justapinch.com)
with chorizo cooked in red wine, queso fresco, pickled red onion, radish, and tomatillo salsa



Main:
Pulled Pork Burritos (via www.simplyrecipes.com)
with refried black beans, guacamole, shredded cabbage, queso fresco, homemade salsa fresca and lime crema


Dessert:
Mango Horchata Rice Pudding (via www.bhg.com) **Recipe for Horchata Below

Banana Taquitos (via www.afewshortcuts.com)



The entire menu was amazing. Gorditas are my new obsession, and I suspect my new dietary staple. 
So. In. Love. 

Despite all the yumminess, I highly recommend the Horchata Rice Pudding recipe from Better Homes and Gardens... I made mine dairy-free using homemade sweetened condensed coconut milk and an easy Horchata "hack" that I am absolutely in love with. Scroll down for the recipe!





After researching what Horchata is, and the best ways to make it (this post from Noshon.it is amazingly detailed), I decided on a short cut that would do in a pinch. I used the ratio from the Nosh post to come up with a quick solution that required only a mason jar.




In a 1L mason jar, I mixed 3 parts almond milk to one part rice milk, and added two cinnamon sticks. I then closed it up, gave it a shake, and refrigerated it overnight. In the morning, I had a delicious mild Horchata that was the perfect base for a spiced rice pudding.



Lazy Horchata Recipe
(Loosely adapted from Noshon.it

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups Almond Milk
  • 1 cup Rice Milk
  • 2 cinnamon sticks


Materials:
  • 1 Large (1L) mason jar

Directions:

  1. Add almond milk, rice milk, and cinnamon sticks to mason jar.
  2. Close the jar and shake gently. Refrigerate at least overnight, or up to two or three days. 
  3. Serve cold with ice, or use in recipes like rice pudding.
Makes 1L (just enough for the Rice Pudding!)


Enjoy!



10.17.2014

Friday I'm in Love: Bones Nelson

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I am hella in love with Mexican folk art and Dia de Muertos culture overall. My fella brought sugar skulls in to my life, and from there an obsession began. An obsession with incredible food and vacation ideas. In other words, an obsession with no downside.


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The awesome sugar skull clock I had made for #dougalove's bday present. This baby is beautiful.



While planning the perfect Dia de Muertos birthday dinner (details coming soon!), I stumbled upon an awesome Etsy shop with Rockabilly Dia de Muertos style art. The store/artist goes by the name Bones Nelson and totally rocks my world.

The style is vivid and unique, and the characters/stories the pictures tell are fascinating. There is a wonderful blend of colour, culture and cuteness that I absolutely can't get enough of.

Halloween is still two weeks away, so if you order asap it might not be too late to get your hands on some of this awesome art to have a classy Dia de Muertos celebration of your own.

Here are a few of the beauties I have my eye on:

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Check out the Bones Nelson shop here: bonesnelson.etsy.com and follow the artist on Twitter here: @nelsonfineart


Happy Friday!

10.14.2014

DIY Wall-Mounted Holiday Dining Table

Happy Tuesday World!!

As you may have heard, we just had Thanksgiving long weekend in Canada. I had an amazing weekend with family, fully catered by yours truly and my kitchen-smart fella. I have zero pictures of the end results, but I promise it was delicious. We even threw together this brussels sprouts recipe from Megan at Stetted blog last minute and it was delightful!

For once in my blog life, I am not here to brag about the food I ate. Instead, I am here to talk about the surface we served the food on.



It always blows my mind seeing pictures of large family gatherings where everyone appears to be eating on one long table that seems pretty permanently fixed within the house. Let's face it. I have a small house (square footage-wise) and don't host a lot of formal dinners. Devoting an entire room to a ginormous table for hosting Thanksgiving dinner seems like something I would be all for... but I do have a shred of sense left in me. In a pinch, I wanted to be able to turn my living room into a room big enough for family dinners--which, in my world, usually means space for between 12 and 20 people. But I have to be able to live my life the rest of the time!

After seeing a post on Apartment Therapy about mounting a folding table to the wall, I came up with a similar solution: a wall-mounted table top for use on special occasions/holidays.




After deliberating material options, I finally decided on unstained cedar planks. It adds a bit of rustic charm in a dining setting, and the wood is super light and resilient (not to mention smells amazing).

To make the tabletop, I went to Home Depot and picked up six thin planks of 8"x10' cedar and a couple of 1"x4"s. Boards/planks of whatever length and width to suit your purposes will also work. Sand down the rough edges before beginning, since you will probably avoid that task like the plague once it is on the wall.




To make the tabletop, I laid the 8x10's down on two sawhorses, and cut the 1x4s so they would fit perpendicular to the cedar boards, stopping mid-board on the ends. Using basic wood screws, I attached the 1x4s to the cedar, using two screws per plank. I made sure to keep the boards as tight together as possible to avoid gaps. 

I then attached two metal french cleats to the underside of the table top and to the wall. The packaging for the cleat states they can hold up to 150 lbs, and I would be shocked if this table weighed even 50 lbs. I erred on the side of caution by using two cleats to balance the weight and give me some added peace of mind. I originally planned on making my own french cleat out of wood using 2x4's, but I don't have any fancy saws. So, I shelled out the extra $20 for metal ones.

Below is a shot of the tabletop on the wall, and off the wall where you can see the cleats. You can also see my weirdly placed vent. One of the perks of having an old house.



The tabletop sits on top of a smaller table in order to create enough surface area for eight or more people. Last year, we sat 17 bodies around it, and this year we only needed 12 and it was an easy fit. I'm sure with a bench or something to conserve space, we could easily fit a full 20 people around the table for a holiday dinner. We aren't afraid of getting cozy in my family.




Now, as with any improvised system, there will be downsides among the perks.

Downside number one: this table is not as wide as your standard table. I keep the turkey etc on my smaller every-day-use table in the kitchen for serving purposes, and the table itself is strictly plates and elbows. I made use of a console table to hold extra napkins and cutlery within arms reach (and to make a pretty display of it with the Sea & Lake print that I won!).

Downside number two: Any table with this tabletop added to it will completely eat the room it is in. My living room, as you can see in the pictures, was devoured by table. I measured the max length before deciding on a ten foot table... And I lucked out when I realized I could fit it in the room two different ways (last year it was the other way, to fit more people).

Downside number three: This is not something that is easily taken down or put back up alone. If you don't have backup, this might not be the best solution for you.

Downside number four: There will be no table dancing on this bad boy... which may or may not be an issue in your family. Keep small children and intoxicated adults from jumping on the unsupported sides and you should make it through your gathering injury-free.





I've been playing with the idea of painting a quote or image on the cedar, to jazz it up a bit when it is on the wall. But there is something nice about the simple wood grain, so I haven't touched it. Do you have any ideas for whether I should add a design or keep it plain wood?? Would love to hear your thoughts!


10.10.2014

Friday I'm in Love: Thanksgiving Roundup

Happy Friday! Happy Friday-before-Thanksgiving (in Canada)!!!!

Thanksgiving is my favourite. By far. Pumpkins and happy thoughts and yummy food and twenty people in my house.... my favourite!

In honour of Thanksgiving, here are a few Etsy finds that will extend the cozy Thanksgiving vibes into what is left of the fall.


{Pumpkin Patch Sisters Print via The Poppy Tree}


{Cinnamon Orange Soap via Soap Utopia}


{Pumpkin Spice Perfume Oil via The Green Alchemist}


{Apple Tarte Loose Leaf Tea via LuxBerry Tea}



Also--just for fun--here is a gem you might not have realized is on the interwebs.




Happy Thanksgiving!!

10.09.2014

I'm a Winner! Tell all your friends.

So, every morning I get a delicious organic dark-roast Robin's Donuts coffee before work. It's roll up the rim or whatever you want to call it season, and today I won a free donut. Hoorah! The free donut is okay, but it reminded me to brag on the interweb about my fantastic winning streak over the last couple months.


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It felt like it would be this kind of day. #winning ��

View on Instagram




Two of my favourite Etsy shops celebrated milestones in August and September with awesome contests. First up was Thunderpeep, who was celebrating 1000 sales in her Etsy shop. She promised goodies to whoever made the 1000th purchase, so clearly I couldn't resist. Second was Sea & Lake Paper Co., who was celebrating 500 Instagram follows with a giveaway. And guess what? I WON BOTH CONTESTS.

Yeah, I'm bragging. Straight. Up. Bragging. If you know the shops, you totally understand why.





Michelle from Thunderpeep and I met up in person when I was in Toronto visiting family/Riot Fest-ing. If you ever have a chance to win "goodies" from Thunderpeep, enter that contest at whatever cost. Seriously. She hooked me up with an amazing selection of treats she had picked up at local shows, including Monkey Butter, tea, soaps, and awesome Etsy swag which is going to look loverly in my craft room. And she brought me some of her coveted wrapping papers, which aren't available in her shops because of tricky shipping, and a selection of cards from her fall line that hadn't made it online yet. That made me all sorts of happy!!

These are my favourites:

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The Sea & Lake contest took place on Instagram and was easy as soup to enter. Re-gram and tag them, and voila. Instant contest entry. I won the third prize, which was a print, a greeting card, and a 20% promo code.



I haven't made use of the 20% off promo code quite yet---- a whole lot of indecision happening. Ever heard of coupon-remorse? I might have made it up. It is essentially the feeling that you could have gotten "more bang for your buck" using a coupon. I am experiencing major fear of having coupon remorse.

Here are a few things I have my eye on:


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So, aside from reiterating how much I love these two shops--winning all this awesome stuff taught me a lesson. It taught me that good things can only happen if you make the effort for them to happen. Truth be told, I am not really a contest enterer type person. And after the summer I had, I was super not a contest enterer type person. So these two wins made for an exceptional end to my summer, just in time for my favourite season. There are rewards to stepping outside your comfort zone sometimes!

I highly recommend you follow suit. Go do something you wouldn't normally do. Enter a contest. Stick your neck out. Good things will happen. :)




10.03.2014

Friday I'm in Love: Monkey Butter

Happy Friday! I have decided to whip myself into blogging shape by starting small---so, on Fridays I will be sharing awesome Canadian goodies with you. 

This first one comes with a bit of a story. I have to admit I am not a huge fan of peanut butter--at least, I didn't think I was. For more than a decade, I have avoided the stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth creamy substance like it was toxic. Even Nutella was something I didn't really take a shining to until I was in university. Semi-recently, I started experimenting with all-natural peanut butter, and even all-natural hazelnut and almond butters. They were a huge improvement on the weirdly creamy stuff, but remembering to pick more up in the grocery store was a struggle... I simply couldn't make peanut butter a staple food after so many years being grossed out by it.

In a recent trip down to Toronto, Michelle at Thunderpeep blew my mind with a jar of Vanilla Spice Almond butter from Toronto-based Monkey Butter. It was amazing! Such a unique flavour profile, and the texture was perfection. I ate it by the spoonful and didn't care who saw me. Needless to say, pretty soon I was out of Monkeybutter.

I checked out MonkeyButter online when I ran out of my gifted stash. I have to restock. I need this peanut butter to become a staple in my house! I highly recommend you treat yourself to this deliciousness, too. Here are a few flavours I have been drooling over:








For more awesome flavours (including peanut butter for dogs!), visit their website: www.monkeybutterpb.com