YouTube Tuesday: ‘Baby Baby,’ baby

by Nadine on August 19, 2014

Amy’s back.

Not that she ever went anywhere.

Happy belated birthday to me.

I’m now THIRTY-ONE, guys. And I’m mostly pretty totally okay with it.

In somewhat-related news, John Stamos just turned 51. Sadly, I still don’t know his anti-aging secrets.

Whose blood* are you drinking, John? Tell me, before it’s too late!


*Please don’t let it be blood. Please say “red wine.”


Easy as [Peach] Pie

by Nadine on August 15, 2014

I made a pie! From scratch! By myself!

“Make a pie” was on my “13 things in 2013” list. I didn’t do it. So I added it to the “14 things in 2014” list. And I kept not making pies.

Pie is intimidating. Scratch that. Pie CRUST is intimidating.

But when a basket of almost-too-ripe peaches stared me down on the counter yesterday, I knew I had to take action.

So with the help of my favourite online bakers and real-world friend Karen, I dove in.

For a wedding gift, Karen gave us a gorgeous illustrated recipe for vodka pie crust.

Lovely, right? Click on image for large version.

I swear this was the flakiest, most crave-worthy crust I’ve ever tasted. Pure pastry goodness. And I didn’t even know what I was doing! No-fail, people. You can do it, too.

With the dough made and cooling in the fridge, I turned to Smitten Kitchen for a filling recipe.

(Here you go.)

I stuck with Smitten Kitchen for dough-roll-out tips, then followed Joy the Baker’s top-crust advice and used an egg wash followed by some serious cinnamon-sugar sprinkling.

And then I went BACK to Smitten Kitchen for baking temps and times.


What did the pioneers do without food bloggers and a million open tabs?

So thanks, Karen, Smitten Kitchen and Joy the Baker. Y’all are the best. Everything turned out freakin’ delicious.

Arguably the best thing I’ve ever made. Or at least the thing I’m most proud of making.

Have any recipes been intimidating you lately?


Brr! Even our salad is in layers

by Nadine on August 14, 2014

Baby, it’s cold outside. What the heck?!

We’re wearing layers today. And eating ‘em, too.

Here’s my mom’s 7-layer salad. It tastes like my childhood.

Unlike her, I did NOT make my own pita bread. (Mom, how on earth did you have time to make pita pockets with three little kids running around?!)

Mom’s 7-Layer Salad
Prep time: 20 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, shredded
  • 1-1.5 cups chopped celery
  • 16 oz. frozen peas (DON’T YOU DARE COOK ‘EM)
  • 2 cups mayonnaise (sometimes less)
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups chopped ham
  • pitas, with pockets
  1. Layer ingredients — in order — in a large bowl. Do not mix.
  2. Cut pitas in half. Stuff with salad.
  3. Eat. And then eat more.

Tastes great made a day ahead and covered in fridge.



Happy Birthday, Grandma

by Nadine on August 12, 2014

Today is August 12. My Grandma’s birthday. She would have been 86.

She’s been gone for six years now. Some days it seems longer than that. Other days it still doesn’t feel real.

Not many people know this story:

On my 22nd birthday, my grandma gave me a birthday card. I was expecting the usual inside: $20.

Not this time.

She wrote me a cheque for $300.

I had just graduated, had little-to-no money, and was moving to Toronto for a job that started at just $11 an hour. She thought it would help.

It did.

With that money, I could afford to sign a lease.

A few years later, months after my grandma died, my mom divided up some of her portion of the estate among her kids.

That cheque helped keep me afloat during my first year of freelancing.

It wasn’t much by some people’s standards — maybe the equivalent of a few months’ rent at my tiny apartment — but I finally had the courage to quit my job and call myself a writer.

I made $14,000 that year. Grandma’s money kept me from going into debt.

Every time I look back at my life in Toronto, the way my career’s evolved, and how this city has become so important to me, I think of her.

I literally could not have done it without her.

On days like today, I wish I could tell her that.

Thanks, Grandma.


O Captain! My Captain!

by Nadine on August 12, 2014

Stand on a desk if you can today.


Summer Eating: Chicken Avocado Mango Salad

by Nadine on August 7, 2014

This is a staple meal in our house. We eat it at least twice a month between Easter and Thanksgiving, not because it’s the “right” thing to do, but because we can’t help it. It’s addictive.

(Yes, it’s possible to crave salad.)

Adapted from this recipe.

Chicken Avocado Mango Salad
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 2-4
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 2 Tbsp red onion, diced
  • 1 heart romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. Slice chicken breast. Toss in olive oil over medium heat. Season with fresh ground pepper.
  2. Divide lettuce, mango, avocado, red onion between two bowls — or more, if you like small salads.
  3. Top salads with cooked chicken.
  4. In glass jar or measuring cup, whisk together balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
  5. Drizzle dressing over salads.
  6. Enjoy.


What’s your favourite summer salad?


Can a country song give you an STD?

To be fair, I was warned. In a rant by a Nashville resident who knows way more about the country scene than I do.

Florida Georgia Line.


I caught the second half of the CMA Music Festival on ABC tonight.

Hmm, I wonder what’s new in the world of country, I thought to myself, hoping for some fun hooks and impressive guitar riffs with a dash of “How Great Thou Art.” Or Jennifer Nettles.


Bad ink, gal-unfriendly lyrics and ill-named “wife-beaters.” What’s wrong with sleeves?!

(Zac Brown Band and Keith Urban, I’m NOT looking at you. We’re good.)

FGL started playing their hit song I can’t remember the name of and have no interest in Googling.

ME: Look! They’re so gross.

MATTHEW enters the room.

ME: You have to admit that Kid Rock is the sexiest redneck, right? I mean, compared to this?

MATTHEW: They’re just standing there.

ME: So sweaty. With bad tattoos. I can’t even. So awful.

MATTHEW: Um, they’re not playing any instruments. They’re just a country boy band.

To confirm this assertion, the singers slap hands as if playing some choreographed playground game. I’m dying.

ME: Ugh.


STILL ME: Ooh. Stop it! They’re, like, where Creed probably would have ended up.

The song finally finishes.

You know what it is? It’s the Sheryl Crow effect. Kid Rock did a duet with Sheryl…and I love her. So he doesn’t give me the heebie-jeebies the way this group does. Also, he rhythms “things” with “things” in “All Summer Long.” That takes real guts. So I’m cool with his brand of creepy bro, but not FGL’s.

ME: Maybe if Florida Georgia Line recorded a single with Amy Grant, I’d feel different?

MATTHEW: Oh, my gosh. That will never happen.

And later:

MATTHEW: It’s weird that Shania Twain isn’t part of these things anymore…I wonder how country fans feel about Johnny Cash.

Then a band I can only describe as “auctioneer-turned-camp-counsellor-turned-ACDC” started playing.

I need a Dolly Parton palate cleanse.

Friends who listen to country, who are your current favourite non-gross artists?


Parisian Style: Home Edition

by Nadine on August 4, 2014

When we were in Paris, I found myself making mental notes — and taking photos — as if I were actively seeking home design inspiration.

Because we have a Versailles budget. Obviously.

I fell in love with flooring in Paris.

Especially chevron floors. If we ever own a home and have a few thousand to spare, we will have chevron floors. (Not herringbone.) Even if we have to do the math ourselves. (So much floor math.)

With warm white walls. Because Paris.

Moulding! Detail!


Other places I’ve found design inspiration: Green Gables, Black Creek Pioneer Village, ZebuuLikely General, The Toronto Zoo….

I think I have a problem.

Do you ever find yourself at your favourite local restaurant, plotting to steal some of their design ideas one day?


Wanted: Gingham

by Nadine on August 2, 2014

As mentioned in this post, I have a few sewing patterns lined up.

This dress needs one specific thing: gingham.

Because there is none in my wardrobe.

And it is trendy, so says the runway.

And it is hip, so say the celebs.

And it is classic, so say these lovely ladies.*

And Kate.

The best princesses drink wine. 

And Dorothy.

Anyone else wearing gingham this summer?

*These photos remind me of a scene in the otherwise-awful What’s Your Number?

GIRL: That pant suit is sexy. It’s very Katharine Hepburn.
GUY: Alright, let’s clear something up right now. Katharine Hepburn was not sexy. Audrey Hepburn was sexy. Katharine Hepburn was a dude.

Matthew and I have had the same conversation. Apparently guys don’t dig Kate Hepburn as much as we do, ladies.


Throwback Thursday: A Makeover Story

by Nadine on July 31, 2014

Happy #TBT, y’all.



Clothes really do make the man princess.