Wednesday, August 31, 2011

.Neighbourly Love.

Today I would like to talk about Neighbours.
Neighbours. Oh, Neighbours.
What an explosive topic of conversation this can be
Sometimes you get the People from Hell {imagine Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation movie and you understand what I mean. Not the Grizwolds of course {because they would be utterly awesome neighbours} but THEIR next-door neighbours. You know the clean ones}.
Neighbours that only cut their side of your shared lawn. Neighbours that never wave or say 'Hi'. Neighbours that just pretend that you don't exist even though your houses are practically touching. 
Grumpy, Miserable Neighbours.
Sometimes you luck out and get some Pretty Fantastic People. People who stop on the front porch to talk with you when you get home for an hour, just to see what's new. Neighbours who give you their house key just in case you need to borrow something, like milk. Neighbours who offer to help you build your deck. Neighbours who are close to the grocery store and offer to pick up those two cans of tomato paste that you forgot to grab for last night's Spaghetti dinner {yes, this happened}.
Yes. Sometimes you get so very lucky.
Chris + Twyla have fast become very good friends of ours in our short time living next to one another. We've done BBQ's, Dinner's, Drinks, Hot Tubs, and just plain ol' Patio Chilling. We've gone out together, got drunk together, and have babysat the kids{okay, I don't have kids yet, but I just know Twyla would be there in a heart beat if needed}.
So last week, when they invited us over to their parents house {which they where house sitting} for dinner, we jumped at the chance.
And holy-schmoly where we blown away. Not only by the beauty of the landscape, but also by Chris' secret cooking talents. Just when you think you know a guy....BAM {as Emeril would say} he throws this amazing dinner at you!
So we started out by picking all fresh ingredients straight out of the garden. How cool is that?!?!? 
It was stocked full of the most tasty looking veggies and herbs I've ever seen! There must have been something of everything!
FYI: I am a little upset with myself for not taking some pictures of the landscape and the ginormous garden they have out there.
So after gathering our goodies for dinner, our personal chef {aka. Chris} prepared this amazing appetizer.
Lobster, with a mango, pea and asparagus puree.
OMG was is ever delicious. I wanted to lick my plate.
Wow, right? Straight out of a cooking magazine!!
For our main course, he made Salmon steaks {which where cooked to perfection. Flaky inside, crispy outer}. It was served with all our fresh grilled veggies and some damn delicious mashed potatoes.
It was the perfect evening. 
Thank you Friends. Next time it's our turn.
SIDE NOTE: Might I also mention that my lovely neighbour swung by today and dropped off these little goodies.....I only saved one for Peter. And I want that recipe. xx

.Harry Dresden Files [A Book Series] Review.

Just as the title says, this is a book review on my newest series, called the Harry Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher.
Currently there are 14 books in this series, but I have only read the first 2 {or actually, the first 3 if you count the Illustrated novel, because, yes people, I did read a comic novel}. To keep you up to speed, I've been trying to nab all the novels in order from the library, but it seems that I'm not the only one reading these. And I now know why. 
This series is freaking good.
Not the hardest of reads, but certainly fun, exciting, and a bit playful {the main character, Harry Dresden's, cheeky humor is very refreshing} this will be a series that I will be finishing from start to end. 
So, I guess since this is a book review, I should be letting you in on what it's all about.

Main Character: Harry Dresden. Occupation: Wizard & Private Investigator.
Yep, that's it. Each novel is based on Harry Dresden's different adventures as being a Wizard P.I. in the city of Chicago. He fights forces against bad vampires, daemons, witches, black arts wizards, etc. He works closely with the Chicago police when plain ol' humans just can't seem to catch the bad guys.
Harry's character as I mentioned, is quite hilarious. He is bad tempered, witty, and grungy. He doesn't try to please anyone, although he has a kind heart and is a true gentlemen. I found that Jim Butcher {the author} wrote Harry's character perfectly for this role. I find myself rooting for him, and hating when he gets misinterpreted {which happens quite often}. I also find myself drawn to wanting to help Harry find happiness, which I'm hoping blossoms as I get further into the novels.There seems to be an underlying love story coming soon. I just feel it.
I also love the supernatural stories in these books. They are different from what you read today, which is a nice change. The author doesn't really romance the bad guys, and keeps things exciting and dangerous. Keep in mind these where first written in the 80's, so these are the true 'vampire, deamon, and witch' stories before Twilight and True Blood came out. 
Well, I'm going to get back to my reading, so I hope you enjoy and find these books entertaining and an escape from reality. Book order and Video Below.
Illustrated Novel: Welcome to the Jungle
Book 1: Storm Front
Book 2: Fool Moon
Book 3: Grave Peril
Book 4: Summer Knight
Book 5: Death Masks
Book 6: Blood Rites
Book 7: Dead Beat
Book 8: Proven Guilty
Book 9: White Night
Book 10: Small Favor
Book 11: Turn Coat
Book 12: Changes
Book 13: Side Jobs
Book 14: Ghost Story

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

.Surprise Date Night.

First off.....MY HUSBAND is so FREAKING COOL.
And Wonderful.
And Sexy.
And Sweet.
And just about the most Awesome of Awesomest People {yes, that's a word. try it out.}
Why you ask?
He surprised me with a Date Night {last Saturday} that was just heavenly!
The atmosphere, the music, the food, the man. It all just played out to be one of those happy + perfect nights. Love you Mister.
So let me back up a bit......last week husband told me about a little dinner surprise that he had planned for Saturday night. I was to make zero/zilch/Nada plans with anyone so that he could take me somewhere that he had been eyeing up for a few days.
So I listened like the good wife that I am. And I was so happy that I did.
We got a little dressed up, and husband drove to our destination....All the way to 118th street {now for those of you who don't live in the vicinity of Edmonton, let me inform you that this isn't the classiest part of town}, which had me more than a little curious. Actually kinda worried.
But then I saw it.
 A brand-spanking new restaurant, which we basically opened up, called NOLA.
And it was a Creole Kitchen. 
My Absolute newest FAVORITE flavors of food. I seriously just can't seem to get me enough Cajun spice. Oh New Orleans, how I wish you where my next door neighbour. We would be bestest of friends. 
The atmosphere was pretty cool. The food was scrumptious...They even had authentic crawfish! With an authentic chef straight out of the Big Easy armed with his grandmother's homemade recipes {prepare for salivating.....}
We started out with a couple of drinks off the cocktail list. Me with a Mint Julep {a southern classic, bourbon with honey + mint. Oh yum} and Husband tasting the Cajun Bloody Mary {spiced with horseradish}. We also dipped into the free corn bread with honey butter. Yum. Yum.
Then we dived into the BBQ Shrimp with white cheddar grits as an appetizer.
Which, I am convinced that I will be tasting those grits in my dreams.
Then we shared the Crawfish Salad, which is like nothing you will have ever had before. Not 1 piece of lettuce in the whole plate. Potatoes, Crawfish, Beans, Asparagus, Sausage. All spiced with the perfect blend of Cajun. Oh Yum. Possibly the best 'salad' we've both ever had.
Then for our mains, Pete ordered the Oven-Fried Chicken with Buttermilk mashed potatoes {I mean, can you get anymore south than that?}, and I ordered the Crawfish Etoufee with Rice and Veggies.
Both where very tasty meals, however, I do have to mentioned that I'm not the biggest fan of just 'one' dish meals so that's my only real complaint with mine. Other than that the food was Delicious and very reasonably priced. I'd definitely go back again. And again.
Oh and did I mention that Nola has live music every night?
Well, they most certainly do!
And that's exactly how we finished our night {we stayed for about 4 hours, that's how nice of an evening we had there!}, with some pints of delicious dark beer, and listening to one hell of a musician.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce a new friend, Brian McLeod {on the right}.
He has the voice of an angel. A gentle soul. And He is going to be big. Mark my words.
Here's a video. And it gives a very cool short story of his young, but exciting life. Enjoy Friends.

Monday, August 29, 2011

.White Velvet Soup.

Umm Yum. White Velvet Soup. Even the name sounds delicious!
This super healthy vegetarian soup was a total breeze to make – most of the work is done for you in the oven! Besides giving the lima beans time to soak, all it takes is a quick blend up and you’re done. So simple. Who says gourmet food can’t be incredibly fast and easy?
FYI: The only draw-back I have is that the consistency is a little like baby food, so if that bothers you, this may not be the soup for you. Just saying.
White Velvet Soup
1 head cauliflower
2 medium onions 
1 head garlic (about 6-8 cloves) 
3 cups cooked lima beans*How to cook, see below* (about 2 cans, if using canned) 
2 cups water 
2 cups vegetable stock 
Juice of 1 lemon 
Sea salt, to taste 
Olive oil 
Smoked paprika
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Cut up cauliflower into bite-sized chunks and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt.
3. Peel onions and slice into chunks. Peel garlic cloves. Place onions and garlic on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
4. Place all veggies in oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes until everything has golden edges and is nicely caramelized.
5. Let veggies cool slightly and add to blender along with all other ingredients except olive oil and paprika {process in batches if you have a small blender}. Blend on high until very smooth. You can also put into a pot, and use an immersion blender if you have one.
6. If the soup is not hot enough after blending, transfer soup to a large pot and warm until steaming. If the soup is too thick, simply add water to thin to your desired consistency.
Bonus: For each bowl of soup, combine 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil with 1/8 tsp. smoked paprika and drizzle as a garnish (this is optional, but there is something very delicious about the mellow richness of the soup, with a slightly spicy and smoky accent).
Not too Shabby, hey? Healthy and Tasty!
Tip: I always highly recommend using beans you cook yourself instead of canned, as the flavour of freshly cooked beans is simply better. If you choose to use beans you’ve cooked yourself, reserve the cooking liquid and use in place of the water and stock.
1. Rinse dried lima beans in a strainer.
2. Now you need to soak the dried beans. Start by placing the beans in a pot and add two to three cups of water per cup of beans. Keep in mind that the beans will expand in size after being cooked, so if you need 3 cups of cooked lima beans, you will only need to have approx 1 1/2 cups of dried lima beans.
3. Then boil the beans for two minutes, take the pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for two hours.
4. Then drain the beans from the soaking liquid and rinse the beans with clean water.
5. To cook the lima beans, place them in a pot and add three cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans. The liquid should be about 1 to 2-inches above the top of the beans. Bring the beans to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. Lima beans generally take about 45 minutes to become tender when cooking this way. *RESERVE the cooking liquid for this recipe, as per above!!!
Also, they may produce a lot of foam during cooking, which is normal, so just skim any foam off during the first hour or so of the simmering process. Then use your cooked lima beans as the recipe calls for!

.Music Monday.

A new one from my ABSOLUTE favorite musician on this planet.
Album is out in October, and is titled 'Ashes & Fire'.
Lucky Now
by Ryan Adams

Friday, August 26, 2011

.Party Fabulous.

Last night was my first Stella & Dot Party.
Otherwise known as My Launch Party!!! Whoo Hoo!!
A smashing success!
Not only did I have a FREAKING blast, but I think all my family and friends really loved the jewelry as much as I do.
 {And isn't that what's its all about....sharing your new 'style finds' with all the peeps you love?}
We sipped on wine and sunshine swizzle punch {with some adding a little pear vodka too it}. We ate some munchies, like Fiona's pita chips and hummus and my assortment of fancy-schmancy cheeses.
We chatted and laughed. We adorned each other in jewels. We listened to some hip and happening tunes. We shopped till we dropped. And everyone left smiling.
The La Coco Jet Necklace with Feather Brooch. 
Joyce and Kelsey warming up to do some damage.
If that's what a 'ladies home shopping' party is all about, Sign me up weekly please!!
Prepping the table and wearing the La Coco Pearl Necklace with Feather Spotted Brooch.
My stunning little sister, Kelsey, browsing a Stella catalogue.
Fiona really getting into the S+D Catalogue
My Beautiful Mom and My Awesome next-door Neighbour {who's little wee one is arriving in a month!}
My sooooo wonderful momma, not only brought some wine and brownies, but she also gave me this beautiful vase on flowers! The best part was the card thoughtful and adorable is that?
From My Thoughtful Mom. Love you Terri {with an 'i"}.
Thank you to Friends and Family for being so supportive. You all shined brighter than the pretty jewels tonight. And I love you all. xx
Friends trying things on
The Gorgeous Chantilly Lace Earrings and Cuff. One of my Favorites.
Me, cleaning up my many gems + babbles. Happy and a little exhausted.
AND not too sound like a saleswoman, but if anyone else wants to host a party {and you live in the Edmonton + surrounding area}, please leave me a message. You get mega free jewelry and discounts galore. Totally worth the effort of just gathering some friends together for some fun.
I can also put together an online order {} if you just love something too death and simply can't make a party. I got the hook-up, Yo!