Friday, January 29, 2010

What's for lunch?

My new favourite thing (since I'm trying to eat healthy), is a fairly straight forward and fast lunch. Take an avocado, cut it into slices, top with some lemon juice and a sprinkle of fleur-de-sel. Awesome! It's also delicious on fresh sliced white bread like a french loaf. I'm trying to be good and cut down on my carb intake though, so I skip the bread. Enjoy!

Splurge vs Steal Day

I spend a lot of time on Weddingbee, and someone started a great thread asking what was everyone's best splurge vs steal for their wedding. Well if that thread could walk around the mall carrying a purse, that was me today! I used to be a bit of a shopping addict but I have reformed my ways (and my bank account) since meeting Dan. I rarely hit the mall anymore, so when I do, it's a BIG deal for me. I've been lusting after the prettiest darn shoes I have ever seen (thanks a lot Bees) and decided to take the plunge and hit Holt Renfrew to see if they were available. I am officially on the calling list when these beautiful Louboutin's come in!

I was disappointed the pumps weren't available this season, but I'll get over it. They'll be great for our engagement shoot and I'm hoping comfy enough to put on as my dancin' shoes at the wedding! But since I was in Holt's........................................ Well these really adorable Burberry rainboots jumped out at me!
(Personal photo)
I mean come on, they have hearts on them!!! How could I not buy them for our engagement shoot or in case it rains at our outdoor wedding!!!! So clearly I made an impulse cute rainboots buy. I'm pretty sure Dan won't be as enamored with them, but whatever, he doesn't have to wear them right?! I'm going to pair them with a black skirt and little cardigan (hmmmm more shopping. I feel an old habit rearing it's ugly head!), and of course, an umbrella. Cute!!! No one ever told me getting married was also an excuse to buy amazing shoes!
Now for the steal. Let's end the post on a positive pocketbook note huh? A couple years back I discovered the limited edition Evian bottle designed by Christin Lacroix. I'm not going to say I really know what any of his fashion lines look like, or even really who he is, but I thought it was the prettiest darn bottle I had ever seen. I bought one for $20 and promised to love it and keep it and never ever open it so long as I shall live. 
 (Personal photo)

Then I found them on sale for $2.50 at my local grocery store a year and a half later. So I bought 12 more. They live in my china hutch and make me smile whenever I see them.
(Personal photo)

After my Burberry high, I was trying to scoop some bargains on baby clothes for a friend at Winner's. I happened to see cases of said Evian water in the aisle but didn't give it much thought other than "Man, that's cheap! I can't believe how much I spent on that first bottle!". 1 case, 12 bottles, $12.99. That's $1.56/bottle people! And then I had an Oprah "Ah ha!" moment. We're going to need bottled water for the wedding. Sure, we may find water for cheaper, but will it be THIS pretty?! Heck no!!!! I bought 10 cases. That's right people, 120 bottles of Evian fancy schmancy collector bottles for $146 after taxes. SCORE!!!!!!!

 (Personal photo)

Splurge: Cutie pie rainboots
Steal: Pretty water bottles! 
Winner: ME!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Brandied Parsnips & Carrots

This is an amazing recipe I've adapted from one of Ted Reader's planking recipes. If you have passion for grilling, buy his planking book, it's our favourite!

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
- 1 pork tenderloin, silver skin removed
- 1/2 big log of goat cheese (or blue cheese works too), room temperature
- 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
- 2-3 tbsp red pepper, finely chopped
- 2-3 tbsp green onion, finely chopped
- maple syrup
- apple juice or apple cider

Sorry for the loose measurements, I make this so often I just throw it in until it looks delicious!

1) Cut a slit down your pork tenderloin, end to end, not all the way to the bottom, so you're creating a big long pocket. Don't cut straight to the ends either, leave a half inch or so at either end so your stuffing doesn't fall out!
2) In a bowl, combine goat cheese, dill, red pepper, and green onion. This will smell amazing. Try not to eat it all, you still need to stuff the pork ;) We've also found that blue cheese works well with this recipe, and I'm sure there's a lot more cheeses that would be terrific too.
3) Stuff your cheese mixture into your tenderloin.
4) Tie up the tenderloin at either end and in the middle with a bit of butcher's twine. If you're doing two tenderloins, each with a different type of cheese, tie one with a bow and one with a knot so you can tell them apart after.
5) Throw them in the oven (or on a soaked cedar plank as per the original recipe). I put them in at about 350* for an hour or until the juices run clear.
6) In the last 15 minutes of baking, pour a 50/50 mix of apple juice and maple syrup over the tenderloin as a glaze. Mmmmmm!!!!

Feeds 2, or 3 if you're polite.

Brandied Carrots and Parsnips
I discovered this recipe in Cusine at Home I believe and it's my new vegetable side dish staple. You can substitute apple juice for the brandy if you'd like.

- 3/4 lb carrots (2 big guys)
- 3/4 lb parsnips (2 more big guys)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp EVOO
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 tbsp sugar

1) Peel and cut up your parsnips and carrots into sticks about 3" long.
2) Melt your butter with the EVOO in a saucepan over medium heat.
3) Add garlic and cook about 1 minute till it smells amazing.
4) Add carrots and parsnips, cook about 2-3 minutes, tossing to coat.
5) Add brandy, broth and sugar, stir, bring to simmer and cover. Reduce heat to med-low and cook for 10-12 minutes or until your carrots and parsnips are tender.
6) Remove lid, bring heat up to med-high and boil until your sauce becomes syrupy. Yum!!!

I could seriously just sit down with a big bowl of these veggies for lunch. Enjoy!

Cupcakes make the world happy

Hello, my name is Veronica and I am a cake addict. I will eat it both in regular and cup form. I don't even need a plate. Give me a fork and the platter.

You can imagine my glee when I attended my first wedding show and got to sample cake from about 10 different bakeries. I have no shame, I broke the cardinal rule and asked for a sample of each flavour. See addict admission above. I repeated said behaviour at my second wedding show which resulted in many sugar high giggling fits while crammed in tiny photo booths with my sister.

Sorry, back to the point. One particular bakery really struck my fancy, The Wedding Cake Shoppe. They had an entire four tier cake covered in conversation hearts. Cake AND candy?! Are you kidding me?! On top of appealing to my serious sugar addiction, their spicy chai latte cake sample was some of the best cake I have ever eaten. Period. I start every day off with a chai latte and now you're going to give it to me in cake form?! Obviously I signed up for a consultation on the spot (of course after making a huge fool of myself gushing over their cake flavours and the adorable Japanese cake toppers).

Finally sampling day arrived. Best. Day. Ever. Dan and I showed up hungry and excited. We met with Aleksandra who helped us delineate what it was that we wanted. To be honest, we didn't even want a wedding cake. I just really really really loved their cake, and having a wedding was a great excuse to buy one! After looking through lots of books of photos with cakes they've made previously, we decided the common thread was a "natural" sort of vibe. Branches, leaves, birds, that sort of thing. I honed in on one in particular when Aleksandra mentioned it had been created to match the graphic on the invitation. Reeeeeeaaaalllly. Screw the birds, I want a cake that matches my invitations!!!! I haven't yet posted about this, and I promise I will soon, but our invitations are based on the fact that Dan and I met in an elevator.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are having an elevator mini cake! That's right, two tiers of cupcakes (60 total), capped off with a two tier mini cake that looks like an elevator! SWEET! Now I'm not going to give everything away since I want to DIY a few things and post tutorials for you, so stay tuned for the details of how I'm going to make my cake even more wonderful and personal! If you haven't guessed it by now, I'm a little excited! And do you know what else makes me excited?! How amazingly well priced it all was! Our full bill ended up being less than $400 including $130 delivery, and a $30 cupcake stand rental. Ummmm SCORE! I can't recommend the ladies there enough, they are so sweet and charming, really gave us lots of time, and had great ideas. I can hardly wait to pick up another 6 pack of flavours so we can finalize them for the wedding!

Back Online!

Oh man. What a rough couple days! Sorry for the unannounced absence. I got some sort of massive virus on my computer that no amount of my rudimentary skills could get rid of. Basically it locked me out of my laptop and I had to take it to the professionals to get it fixed. Thankfully they were able to get rid of the virus and save all my data (which I had also backed up before I got to the point of being locked out). However, the crappy thing about it is that I think they wiped my computer and I'm slowly realizing all the things that are missing.

1) Mozilla Firefox and all my bookmarks. Everything wedding related, design related, fun stuff, interesting stuff, gone. Ugh. I'll never remember it all!
2) My Adobe Suite. I'm not going to cry because I wanted to upgrade to CS4 but I had planned on working on our wedding invitations today. Guess it'll have to wait.
3) AutoCAD. Grrrr!!!!! Thankfully I know where I can get another copy, but it's a pain in the butt to install so I'm not looking forward to doing it again.

I'm sure I'll find other things as time goes on but on the other hand things could be worse, my laptop could be fried completely. That would have been awful. So now that I'm back, I can begin to catch you up on my busy wedding week! Stay posted!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fail Safe Coconut Tres Leche Cake

My good friend Kelly made this cake for us once and shared her secret: Chow. It's soooo good. I love this website. It's full of recipes, advice, forums, it's a foodie's delight! This cake is easy (make it the day before) and ridiculously delicious. All credit goes to the incredible Chowhound because I could never come up with something so awesome! I find this one is always a crowd pleaser and is my go-to for having a crowd over for dinner (makes a 9x13 pan of cake, so not for your dinner for four). I always forget to put in the rum and no one has ever complained. Enjoy!

Coconut Tres Leches Cake Recipe
Difficulty: Easy


Total: 1 hr 15 mins, plus 8 hours for soaking

Active: 25 mins

Makes: 12 servings

Coconut Tres Leches Cake

By Regan Burns

This supereasy cake, soaked with a milky mixture laced with dark rum and coconut milk, is one of our most popular recipes. We’ve tested it at several parties and have yet to take home anything but an empty baking dish and a whole bunch of recipe requests. So here it is! Be sure to make it well before you want to serve it—the longer it sits, the better it gets. And don’t skip the toasted coconut!

This recipe was featured in our Build Your Own Burrito Bar story.

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk (not nonfat)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum, such as Myers’s
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  1. Heat oven to 325°F. Butter a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish. Separate eggs, and place yolks in a large mixing bowl. Reserve whites in a separate mixing bowl.
  2. Add sugar to yolks, and beat on high speed with an electric mixer until pale yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Clean beaters, and whip egg whites to medium peaks, about 1 1/2 minutes.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, stir about 1/3 of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it. Then gently fold in remaining whites.
  4. Whisk flour with a dry whisk to aerate and break up any lumps, then sprinkle it over egg mixture. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold flour into egg mixture, just until there are no more white flour streaks. Don’t overmix.
  5. Pour batter into the buttered baking dish, and bake until cake is puffed and golden and the edges pull away from the sides of the pan, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. Remove cake from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack. With a toothpick, poke holes all over the cake. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk together three milks and rum, and pour mixture evenly over cake. Continue cooling cake, about 45 minutes more, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  8. For toasted coconut, heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add coconut and spread it in an even layer. Cook, stirring often, until coconut is lightly toasted and browned. If coconut begins to burn, reduce heat. Remove from the pan immediately.
  9. To serve the cake, whip heavy cream and powdered sugar to medium peaks. (If you like, flavor it with a teaspoon of dark rum.) Top each cake slice with a mound of whipped cream, and garnish with toasted coconut.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wedding shows

You know why I love wedding shows? Free cake! Plain and simple. Yes there are great vendors out there, yes you can get some good deals, but man, free cake is awesome!


When heading to your first bridal show, here are some tips shared with me from my own engaged and/or newly married friends. All of them have benefited me greatly!

1) Print off address labels (I bought mine from the good ole dollar store) with your name, address, email address, and phone number on them. This will save you a lot of time filling out countless contest entry forms.
2) Set up an email address just for wedding related things like said contests, contacting vendors, etc. I've found this to be a lifesaver because it's all in one place without having to wade through all your other day-to-day life email.
3) Bring a rolling backpack or bag of some sort. You will get about free 15 bridal magazines, wedding planning books, etc which are lovely and so useful, but also heavy.
4) Bring water and a snack. It's always dry in convention centres and the food is typically greasy, unhealthy, and overpriced. A bottle of water and some trail mix will go a long way after all that cake!
5) Enjoy! Chat with the vendors and take part in the free photo booth shots, get your ring cleaned for free, the show is your oyster!

I went with my sister/MOH to the National Bridal show today and followed the above rules. We had an absolute blast! Thankfully this evening was the first day of the show, so it was lovely and quiet and we had time to talk with the different vendors and really take it all in. We met some great people and I really enjoyed myself even though it was a smaller show. I came home with three strips of photos of us, a multitude of free samples, and some great coupons and ideas. So go and enjoy, hopefully you only get to do this once ;)

(Personal photo)

Making it Official

My rule of thumb for our wedding day is this: There are three important people that need to show up, myself, Dan, and our officiant. Everyone else, it's lovely for you to join us, but if you don't make it the day will still go on. That may seem a little harsh, but it's the honest truth. If one of those three people doesn't show up, no wedding!

Now this bring us to an important question, just how exactly do you choose your officiant/priest/minister/guy who's been ordained on the internet?


My process wasn't overly complicated. First, I asked around. I'm at the age where just about every other person I know has gotten married in the past two years. I got a few recommendations from friends, ideas about how much this should cost, etc. Next I started reading local wedding boards. I got a few names off there and contacted them. I'm not sure why, but I have this thing about not wanting anything else I've seen at another wedding. I don't want your venue, I don't want your officiant, I certainly don't want your dress. I want to be a "unique" bride. *I realize by saying this I am exactly like every other bride, don't worry*

I contacted one woman who was spoken of very highly on a wedding site. I emailed her and a couple days later that got a response that simply stated "Thanks for your inquiry. Please fill out the contact form on my website". Ooookay. So I did. A few days later, an envelope showed up in my mailbox. In this were said officiant's standard ceremonies, and a contract stating the amount owed ($400!!!!) and request for the down payment of $150 to secure our date. Now call me crazy here, but I'm thinking two things:
A) I'm not getting married by some woman who can't even be bothered to pick up the phone and call me to start a bit of a rapport.
B) I'm not sending a complete stranger a cheque for $150.

Needless to say, she got crossed off the list and it made me very weary of internet recommended sources. That led me back to my list of friend recommended officiants. I've been to a lot of great weddings the last few years, so I was really happy to have a lot to choose from. The first one I spoke with was a lovely gentleman who's manner of speaking reminded me so much of my Dad, it made me so comfortable! Thankfully his fee was reasonable and we booked him pretty much straight away! It's not a dramatic story really (thank goodness). Although I said I didn't want an officiant that had already married friends of ours, it's actually really nice to hear him reminisce about our friend's wedding. So we're meeting with our officiant Tuesday evening to discuss the ceremony and start to sort out the details! It's so real!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Little Morsels of Heaven

My cousin's wife turned me onto a cooking/baking magazine called Cuisine At Home. After perusing her issues one night, I signed up for my own subscription and ordered past issues as soon as I got home. One of my favourites is the Holiday Cookies special edition. We have an annual Christmas party, so I was determined to have as many different types of cookies as I could churn out!

One of these was their "Pecan Pie Bites", they are so good! I happened to have four extra little tartlet shells left over and so I decided to fill them with other things that were delicious: goat cheese, caramelized onion, prosciutto. I created morsels of heaven. They were SO amazing I had to make an entire batch of them, four would not do. If I could boast for a second, they were the first items of food to disappear at the party :)

Veronica's Pieces of Heaven
For the tartlet shells (from Cuisine at Home):
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 2-2/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp table salt

1. Preheat your oven to 350*. Coat 2 mini muffin pans with non-stick spray. Don't use one tray and make two batches, you'll lose your mind.
2. Cream together the butter and brown sugar in a bowl. Add flour and salt; mix until sandy. The dough is pretty dry and will literally look like crumbly sand, this is what you want.
3. Press 1 heaping tablespoon of dough into each well of the tins, shaping the dough up the sides. I managed a technique using my thumb that worked best for me.
4. Bake for 8 minutes or until slightly golden around the edges.
5. Remove the shells from the oven and CAREFULLY pat the bottoms down with a tiny spoon or your finger. Set aside.

- 1 big log of goat cheese, room temperature
- caramelized onions (I used a caramelized onion compote I had in the fridge and it was awesome)
- sliced proscuitto
6. Fill each shell with goat cheese nearly to the top.
7. Top with a touch of onion compote and a snippet of proscuitto.
8. Pop back into the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes more.
9. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to pop them out. This is a very very important step. If you don't let them cool for 15 minutes they won't pop out, they'll crumble apart.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Wedding Diet

Dan and I decided last year that we needed to start a wedding diet. Like most couples, we've slid into the comfort zone and unfortunately our most favourite activity together is eating really really really great food. Now really great food doesn't mean it can't be healthy, but when you follow it up with an Oreo ice cream sandwich or a few cookies every night, well, what does it matter if you ate a salad?!


So to combat all this, Dan installed a home gym in our basement, mainly for himself. He has had it for, oh, about 5 months? He has yet to use it. Sigh.

Before Christmas I was going to Curves 3x/week which was awesome. Curves really works for me. I hate hate hate the gym but I can convince myself to go for half an hour. Plus I really do get results! But then Christmas mayhem hit, and then I stubbed my baby toe so hard it still hurts. Seriously. A month and a bit later. I got an x-ray and apparently nothing is broken, but I don't want to risk messing up my foot more, so I'm going to take it easy on the gym thing until I wake up one morning WITHOUT pain in my foot. Yes I recognize that I am full of excuses. See above where I talk about hating the gym.

Now let me tell you, it's not the wedding that I want to lose weight for. My dress fits me like a glove in the size I ordered it in, I'm thrilled with the way I look in it. It's the honeymoon that scares me. Two weeks in a bathing suit on a gorgeous beach somewhere.............................. Heaven and yet the mere thought of it makes my palms sweat. Clearly I understand that to lose weight I need to burn more calories than I'm taking in. I've gotten to the point where that stupid SmartBite thing is looking like a viable option to me!

(Source) I'm hoping I don't spend my honeymoon covered up like this.

Anyone have any tips or pointers? Are you trying to lose weight for your wedding or honeymoon?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

I've become obsessed with my slow cooker the past few months. Even though I work from home and certainly have time to make a meal at the end of the day, I love throwing a bunch of stuff into my slow cooker, and six hours later, ta da! Delicious tender yummy dinner! Minimal effort! Plus the smell of it simmering all day.... *drool*

People always tell me I'm a great cook, and the secret is this: Nearly everything I make comes from this site. It's full of amazing recipes and I love the changes they've made recently to make it even more user friendly than it already was. My online recipe box is stuffed full of goodies, and I love reading the reviews from other users. So while perusing the other day, I found a recipe for barbecue chicken. I had everything it called for, so I threw it all in the slow cooker, set the timer, and got back to my silk screening project. A good few hours later, oh my gosh, ridiculously delicious tender chicken. I served it on calabrese buns. I can't even remember what we had on the side because it was so good I didn't care.
  • 6 frozen skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle barbeque sauce
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce


  1. Place chicken in a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the barbeque sauce, Italian salad dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken.
  2. Cover, and cook 3 to 4 hours on High or 6 to 8 hours on Low.
My only recommendation/change was something I read in the reviews from other readers. I shredded the chicken about an hour before it was done, and left it for the final hour to thicken up the sauce. It was PERFECT when it was done.

Today we had some of the leftovers on a bun with sliced avocado. I'm pretty sure Dan nearly peed his pants. Sooooo good!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

He's my Lobster!


At some point in our relationship, I told Dan he was my lobster. I'm preeeeeetty sure he thought I was an absolute nutter. I then realized that men don't consider Friends to be a religion like women do and found him the episode where Phoebe announces that Rachel and Ross are lobsters. They walk around on the bottom of the ocean holding claws, mates for life. He got it, but now thinks I'm a cute nut if nothing else. He has also been known to watch Friends with me since I have shown him the light ;)

So anywho, since the day of the lobster, we have this weird thing (among many weird things) that when we're feeling mushy and sweet, we link our thumbs and forefingers together a la little claws and announce "Lobsters!" to each other. Yes we do this in front of other people who also now think we're BOTH nuts.

Now to take the craziness a step further, I made a "Lobsters!" cake topper. Yep, you read that right. Although neither of us particularly want a big frou-frou wedding cake, we each have about 4 ideas for cake toppers. Naturally this means a dessert buffet with many cakes and many cake toppers. Darn. Twist my rubbery-cake-lovin-arm!

I know at this point you're all begging to know, how does one make a lobster cake topper? Well let me show you!

First, Google image search "lobster". You'll find an image like this:


Then I decided for whatever reason (and mainly I think because of my new smelly Smencil crayons) to draw said lobster claw so I could understand the ways of the claw.

(Personal Photo)

I picked up some red sparkly polymer clay from my local Michaels and set to sculpting! I did a little online research and found out a few important things. First, this is scary stuff. It's full of chemicals that are not so good for you. Whatever surface you bake the stuff on, you don't want to use it for food again. I put a double layer of parchment paper under my clay to bake it on so I wouldn't be putting it directly on the sheet. Secondly, there's not a lot of beginners information out there. A lot of the info relates to how to make fancy beads and whatnot, so it's a bit of a trial by error unless you have a book or a friend who knows what they're doing.

To start, the clay needs to be warmed up a little. I bought two packs not knowing how much I'd need, so I tucked one inside my bra while I warmed the other up in my hands. I kneaded it until it was pretty pliable/sculptable. Then I tore a hunk off and started making a claw! I used a wooden skewer to add some of the toothy like detail on the claws. That's about it really. I made two claws, interlocked them together, and then threw them in the oven for about 45 minutes at the temperature recommended on the package. It's important to use this temperature because if you bake it at a higher temperature you could release some very toxic fumes into your oven and heaven knows we don't want to eat toxic chicken for dinner so don't take a short cut on this people! However it looks when you put it in the oven is pretty much how it'll look when it comes out, it's no big mystery. It doesn't really expand or contract, it just is what it is.

Here's our lobsters cake topper!

(Personal Photo)

All in all, it was a quick and easy project. I'm really happy with the way it turned out, although I'm certainly not expecting many people at the wedding to understand the reference. As a sidenote, much to my dismay Wikipedia has dispelled the Friends lobster myth: "
Lobsters do not mate for life, contrary to some myths. The female seeks the most alpha male she can find, and the male will mate with as many females as he can." Ahhh so true my lobster friends, so true.

Just Breathe

Warning: Depressing post. My apologies. It's been a tough few days. I stopped posting for a few days because we had a pretty serious illness fall upon our little family. Let me stop and clarify: In my home, I consider my family to be myself, Dan, my stepson, and my cats, Peter, Smee and our foster kitty Glory. Peter and Smee are both nine years old and the best cats anyone could ask for. Everyone immediately falls in love with them. They are full of big personalities and sweet as pie. I find it so funny that Smee's disposition is such that everyone who meets him calls him Mister Smee because he's so dignified and lovable, you can't help but call him Mister.

{My little Smee}

Smee has always had issues. He's one of those cats who gets chronic hairballs every other day, so when I noticed him trying to hack one up last week I didn't think much of it. A few days passed, still no hairball, but still some hacking. I took him to the vet to have him looked at and they found a large mass beside his heart. It may or may not be cancerous, but we opted not to test it since regardless, there's nothing that can be done. Because of where it's located, it can't be removed surgically, and the thought of putting him through six months of chemotherapy, it just doesn't seem fair. Something like that would be selfish I think. I took him to see another specialist who concurred with my own vet, but told me that with the medications he's on, he could have a good quality of life for up to a year so long as the tumor is slow growing and he continues to respond well to his meds. So we'll snuggle and eat chicken, and value each and every moment we have together. I know to a lot of you he's just a cat, but to me, he's my baby. Needless to say, I've been a mess for a few days and absolutely useless around the house.

Continuing my depressing post, my paternal grandmother passed away this summer from a stroke. She was 95 and the woman that inspired me most. She lived a good and long life, independent throughout. It's so difficult to imagine my wedding day without her but I'm happy she was here long enough to know I was engaged. She was in hospital when I told her that I thought Dan and I would be getting engaged on our trip to the East coast. Her eyes lit up, teared up a little, and she reached out and stroked my face. Although she couldn't say the words, I could feel how happy she was for me, and that she knew Dan would take great care of me. I knew that would bring her peace of mind.

I would like to honour my grandmother, and most likely, my little Mr Smee at our wedding. We won a digital picture frame in a lottery last year, and I thought I could put in a photo slideshow of the people we want to honour. I've also been thinking about a locket hanging from my bouquet with their photos in it. I won't have a photo of Smee sleeping on the train of my dress, or see my grandmother as I walk down the aisle, but if I can have them both with me in my heart and honour them as best I can, I would feel so much better.

I would like to have this as my last song of the night. It never fails to make me cry and it rings so true to me. I'm so lucky to have so many people I love around me, and the hard times we've been going through puts into perspective how important it is to savour each moment you have with the ones you love.

Does anyone else have special ways they are honouring those who have passed?

Monday, January 11, 2010

One is Fun but Twice is NOT Nice


After we got engaged at my parent's house, I managed to hold out about 36 hours and one RV breakdown before forcing Dan to stop for bridal magazines. I remember when my sister got engaged, she came home with ARMLOADS of bridal magazines and we spent hours pouring over them together. Well now it was my turn baby! I bought every bridal magazine the Cornwall Walmart had to offer!! I diligently dog-eared the pages with beautiful ideas I wanted to use. I started honing in on dresses, particularly lacy vintage looking dresses. I fell in love with Jim Hjelm dresses.


I loved his simple style. Classic. Not poofy. Not silky. Not overly embellished. He just lets the lace be beautiful and concentrates on the silhouette. Love! I made appointments at two stores in Toronto that were having Jim Hjelm trunk sales when we got back from our trip.

Fast forward two months. I have said appointments, but I also find out about this amazing place called The Brides Project. The money they raise selling dresses and accessories goes towards a children's cancer camp, Camp Quality. My thoughts were this: If I'm going to spend $XXXX on a dress, why not have it go to a great cause?! So I quickly managed to get myself an appointment before my trunk sale appointments, and set out to find me a dress! I tried on dress after dress, some too big, some too small. A lot of what they had was perfect for other girls, but didn't fit the simple lace classic lines idea I had in my head. Finally I found a Paloma Blanca dress that was a bit short, but I thought that with my red shoes poking out it was a cute party dress. I loved it. It, however, was exactly opposite of what I wanted. It was silky, it was poofy, it didn't have lace. Hm.

(Personal Photo)

Also, it was a weeeeeeeee bit small. Despite all that, I still really liked it. Thankfully The Brides Project kindly loaned me the dress for two weeks to take it to their incredible seamstress to see what could be done.

Meanwhile, I had my appointments for the trunk sale. We arrived at L&J Bridal in Brampton for our first appointment. Little did I know that Jim Hjelm dresses start at about $4000 regular price, and the trunk sale was only 10% off. Ummmm no thanks. Now I didn't have a specific budget in mind for my dress, but I knew I didn't want to spend $4000. Every penny we don't spend is a penny we're saving towards our house renovation, so if I can find a dress for less that I love, bonus! We get windows! Our lovely saleslady Lina ushered us into a gorgeous room and pulled dresses for something closer to my "budget". The first one she pulled was beautiful but not what I wanted. It was a mermaid fit, and I'm really insecure about my hips/stomach area. I got junk in my trunk, which I love, but always feel really hippy in anything too form fitting. I love being a curvy woman, don't get me wrong, but this is one day I want to feel GORGEOUS, not self conscious. So I put it on, because, hey why not, it doesn't cost anything. I came out, stepped on the little platform, and blam, I fell in love. This dress made all my curves work in the RIGHT ways. I was a perfect hourglass figure, not hippy. The junk looked damn good in my trunk! I tried on the other dresses (including a Jim Hjelm just to see), but that was *the one*. Enzoani, you make goooooood dresses!

My dress! The Dakota! I can hardly wait to squish into this puppy!


Moral dilemma. The dress that's cheaper and the money goes to a great cause, or the dress that's more expensive and makes me feel like a friggin supermodel? I debated. I hummed. I hawed. I complained and complained to Dan. Finally he made a great point. I was more in love with the idea of the first dress, not the dress itself. While it's great that the money goes to such a wonderful cause, do I really want to spend my wedding day wishing I was wearing a different dress? I'm not sure Dan has ever told me to spend more money before, so I wasn't about to argue with him. And he was right. The first dress is beautiful. It's perfect for someone else though. It felt like a fun party dress but the Enzoani dress. Oh man. It made me feel like a BRIDE. How could I not?!

So my friends, that is the story of the two dresses, my moral dilemma, and the momentous occasion Dan told me to spend more money on our wedding.

Did anyone else have trouble deciding? Did you find a way to contribute to charity while making purchases for your wedding?

Venue Vacuum

When we got engaged, Dan and I each got to pick a priority. His was food, mine was photography. For the past two years for Dan's birthday, I have hired a personal chef to cook dinner for us. It has simply been the most amazing food we have ever eaten. It's worth every penny! In our quest to make our wedding as much about us as our friends and family, we asked said chef if he could work within our budget for the wedding. Eating his food is such an exception experience we look forward to every year, this was the perfect way to share that with everyone! Thankfully he agreed and was really enthusiastic about the wedding. We're SO excited to have him!

Personal Photo

However, finding a venue that will allow you to bring in a caterer proved to be... a test in patience to say the least. I understand most venues make their money from the food, and that's great, but I don't want to pay $150 a plate for a piece of dried out chicken. I know some places have good food, but I don't want my guests to walk away saying "Hey that was a pretty good meal for a wedding". If you and your friend/spouse/significant other went out and spent $300 on dinner, wouldn't you want an AMAZING meal, not a pretty good meal?! Why do we settle for mediocre food for such a high price on the most important and probably most expensive day of your life?!

Sorry, enough ranting. Back to the venue. We got a lot of simple no's when we asked if we could bring in an outside caterer. We were told by one place we could bring our caterer, but wouldn't have access to their kitchen, water, or electricity. Some places wanted extravagant fees just for the venue alone, no tables, chairs, plates, nothing included. No thank you. We nearly gave up. We had looked through literally HUNDREDS of websites. Dan was content with our Plan B: Our chosen caterer would do the rehearsal dinner and we would pick a venue that supplied food.

I hated Plan B. It wasn't fair, I didn't have to compromise on my photographer! So I searched. And I searched. And I searched. I started stalking photographer's websites looking for ideal venues. I ended up on another caterer's website somehow that listed where they had catered. A name popped out at me: The Alton Mill. Hm. Google. Oh wow! This place looks nice! An old wool mill on the Credit River system that's recently been converted into art studios and galleries.... We live on the Credit! I'm artsy! We can bring our own caterer?! YES!!!!!

I contacted the Mill and immediately got a great vibe from them. They are very down to earth, and really love the community they're building at the Mill. Dan and I are so excited to have our wedding there, it just can't come soon enough!

Personal Photo

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Who do? Yudu!

I think I need to make a second confession. My second favourite thing in the world (first being lists), is crafts. A wedding is just an excuse to DIY myself to death and buy lots of fancy crafting machines. I've somehow managed to con my family into chipping in for a Cricut for my birthday and for a Yudu for Christmas. Thankfully Dan is a master at Ebay so it's all come in much cheaper than shopping at Micheal's. So now I have these machines and I realize I've backed myself into a corner. I HAVE TO use them for the invitations and various other wedding related projects to justify my family's expenditure. I can no longer throw my hands up in the air after three attempts and pay someone else to do it. I'm also coming to the realization that making a few handmade birthday cards for friends is cute and fun, but 170 invitations?! Are you kidding me?! Thank god for bridesmaids!!!!! That being said, I'm really excited to put myself into every area of our wedding that I can. My family and friends will recognize right off the bat what I've done. Just call me Little Martha!

I say all this while my new Yudu whirrs away behind me drying my SECOND attempt at setting the emulsion sheet. It only comes with two. Uh oh. Hopefully I'll get this process down pat and soon I'll be Yudu-ing my invitations and OOT bags! Hooray!!!

What kinds of DIY are you putting yourself through? Any tips to share?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Warm Me Up Meatballs!

It's freeeeeeeeezing here in Toronto!!! -10 degrees Celcius, feels like -100 with the windchill I believe. It's awful. On a cold day like this, I need hot, comforting food with minimal effort required. More time in the kitchen=less time huddled under my blankets on the couch watching cheesy movies on The Women's Network. Enter my Mom's meatballs. These are ALWAYS the first thing to go at any party we have and the recipe I get asked for the most. They are absolutely perfect for a day like today when I don't want to get up off the couch. I just have to throw them in the crockpot and leave them for a couple hours and then work on the pot throughout the day. Somehow we also figured out these taste delicious dipped in spinach dip. Sounds gross, tastes amazing! Don't knock it till you try it!

Mom's Meatballs

- Mix 2 tbsp flour, & 3/4 cup sugar.
- Now mix in 1/4 cup white vinegar and 2 tbsp soy sauce.
- When all that is done, add 2 cups water and mix well.
- Pour over frozen meatballs in your crockpot (I use Loblaw's Blue Menu Lean Italian), and stir to coat. Simmer on high for 2-4 hours and serve.

If you forget or don't have 2-4 hours, cook the meatballs in the microwave as per package directions and throw it in the crockpot with the sauce for a half hour or so.

The List

Confession time. I love lists. I'm not talking about "it helps to keep me organized" love. I love lists so much I get giddy about them. I make lists of lists. Yes this is something I may need to seek professional help for one day I know. The one list I do NOT like is our wedding guest list. We started making our list about a week after we got engaged. Alright, I started making our list about a week after we got engaged. I'm surprised I waited that long... Anyways, at first we had about 80 people and we were thinking "Wow, this is going to be wonderful! So intimate and cozy, perfect!". Right. Then as the days went by we thought of another person.... Then another.... Then some friends our parents would probably want to have... 110 of those later, our guest list has ballooned to 170 people!!! I imagine with family and friends who are overseas, the actual RSVP number will be closer to 150, but that's a far cry from the 80 we initially imagined!

What to do? We have a few As and Bs, but really, there's only about 20 "B list" people, and honestly, I'm pretty sure the division between As and Bs is now gone and I'm just inviting everyone. I've already slashed the "and Guest" which cut about 60 additional guests off. Our rule is going to be that if at the time of the invitations getting sent out you're in a relationship, that "and Guest" will be included. If not, not. I'm not much interested in paying for some random's dinner that I've never met and that will probably roll her eyes to her girlfriend's later "Ugh, I had to go to some people's wedding this weekend. It was soooooooo boring, I didn't know anyone there...". No thanks. Tough love I know!

I think I've come to live with our number. We do have a lot of friends (not to toot our horn here!), and each of them is so important to the life we've been building together, I'm not about to start picking and choosing which one is MORE important to me. 150 isn't too bad. 400 would be far too many for me to deal with, but 150 is manageable... How have you come about making your wedding list? What problems have you had?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Day Dreaming and Planning

While we were away on our trip, we spent A LOT of time talking about our wedding. We talked about what we wanted, what we did NOT want, what would be fun, what would be realistic.Dan thought we could have a wedding for 150 people on a budget of $2800 and I had to burst his bubble quite quickly. We had a lot of time to discuss these things while we waited for parts at various garages in small towns, or tow trucks on the side of the road... By the time we got home, we had already decided a few things:
1) We each picked a top priority. I think this was the best thing we could have done. Dan's was great food (surprise!) and mine was photography. We each knew exactly who we wanted to hire for our respective choices and pretty much had them booked within a week of our return!
2) We didn't want anything formal. We're pretty low key people. A few barbeques on someone's farm would have been great if we thought our parents would have approved!
3) We wouldn't get carried away. While this is a really important day, on the other hand, the leftover money we had would go towards our house renovation. We're not exactly $70 000 wedding people with lengths of tulle and bushels of roses. We'd rather have windows in our house ;)

My friend Elisa contacted me and asked if she could be our wedding planner. What?! Really?! Ummm let me think about that... OKAY! She had just gotten married herself right before we left for our trip, and it was a gorgeous wedding that I knew had a lot of thought and planning behind each detail. Elisa and I have been friends since we were 16, so she knows exactly what a detail oriented perfectionist I am, and thankfully she suffers from the same affliction! Plus it's so great to spend time talking with someone about weddings not worried that you're going to bore them to death or that they'll go home and say to their spouse "Oh my gosh, all Veronica does is talk about weddings. Enough already!". What I'm so thankful for with Elisa, is having someone to take care of all the little things on the day of the wedding that I would have been SO stressed about. She'll make sure the tables are set up, the flowers are in place, the band is there, etc etc etc. I've actually had a wedding nightmare that I showed up and there were plastic flowers but Elisa swooped in, fixed it, and crisis was averted! Amazing!

We're relying on our friends and family for a lot of "favours" for our wedding. This makes my mother very very nervous. Ask anyone, and Dan and I "know a guy" for just about everything. Tables, chairs, linens, china, sound system, check check check check and check. I'm asking a friend who works as a set decorator in the film industry to set up our white Christmas lights in the tent, another friend to take care of our iPod list, and a few other friend supplied surprises to come! My mom is pretty terrified that it will all fall apart, which is a definite risk, but really, if you're going to let a friend down it's more along the lines of canceling dinner at the last minute, not messing up their wedding day! We have the most incredible friends, and Dan and I wanted everyone to be involved in our wedding. They all contribute so much life and laughter to our home, of course we want the same thing on our wedding day!

If anyone has any great wedding memories or favourite moments to share I'd love to hear them! What makes a wedding special to you?

The Proposal/Or "Thanks Dad!"

Dan and I had been planning a trip to the East coast of Canada for a couple months this past summer. We renovated an old 1973 Winnebago back to front, top to bottom. It was an ambitious project. I had a gut instinct Dan was going to propose during the trip but was trying not to get my hopes up JUST IN CASE. Could you imagine driving back from Newfoundland with one angry un-engaged woman?!

After a heck of a lot of work, we hit the road on a Monday evening. We spent the night with my parents so we could miss the Toronto traffic in the morning. In the morning, we were saying our goodbyes out on the front lawn with my parents. There were lots of hugs and kisses all around. My dad looked around very excited asking "Can I say something? Can I say something?" Dan and I were expecting something along the lines of "Have a great trip! Here's $50 towards your first tow!"... Instead my Dad looked at my Mom and said "I just wanted you to know, Dan has asked for my permission for Veronica's hand in marriage." Dad was proud as punch. Dan looked like he watched a puppy get run over. I burst out laughing as my Mom looked at Dan and said "Never ever tell Lou anything! Don't you know that?! The man CANNOT keep a secret!!!" Dan, Mom and I laughed until tears streamed down our cheeks while Dad innocently looked around asking "What??? What????" When we were finally in a semi-composed state, Dan simply said "Well, do you want your ring?", and obviously I said YES!!!! Dan went to the RV to get the ring and when he got back, he got down on one knee (still on my parents front lawn!!!) and told me how much he loved me and asked me to marry him. Again, another resounding yes, and tears for a whole different reason!

Two footnotes to this story. First, the whole time was down on his knee, my mother was weeding in the garden. When my Mom weeds, she throws everything behind her. I was dodging weeds during Dan's proposal while my Dad was pulling on my Mom muttering "Terry get up! This is kind of important!" Ahhhh true Nuspl style...

Secondly, according to my Dad, Dan had given him permission to tell people about our engagement as soon as we were "out of Toronto". Dad took the meaning quite literally as my parents house is about 1km from the Toronto border. I can safely say I'm sure there are not many brides out there who have been proposed to by their father!!!!

Persuasive Potato Salad

A large part of the beginning of our relationship was spent at the condo's communal barbeques down on the lake. I could convince Dan to haul all the food, utensils, and drinks down if I promised to make potato salad with our meal. This is not a precise recipe, and it tastes best if you make it a day ahead of time so the flavours have time to seep in overnight.

- Boil potatoes. New potatoes, mini potatoes, whatever. Yukon Gold's don't work as well because they tend to fall apart a little. I like either new or mini. I do enough to fill a mid-size pot. I like leftovers. When they're cooked, drain them and throw them in a big bowl in the fridge to cool.
- While those are cooling, fry up some bacon. I'd say at least 4 slices. If you're a bacon freak like me, 6-8 is more reasonable. And don't forget to do a spare to munch on for a treat! Crumble up the bacon when you're done.
- Take out your cool potatoes and cut those suckers up to bit size pieces.
- To your potatoes add: crumbled bacon, diced green onion, mayo, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. I usually add enough mayo so it's creamy, but not a bowl of mayo with some potato mixed in. I'd say it's at least half a cup, maybe a full cup depending on the volume of potato salad I'm making.
- Let this delicious mixture sit over night in your fridge and enjoy!

It's simple and not very exact, but it's delicious! People always rave about it and can't believe it's not any more complicated than it is. Enjoy!

Friday, January 01, 2010

About Us

I had to think of where to start after our "Welcome" post. I wanted to jump straight into the proposal, but thought I should maybe tell you who we are before leading you down the newlywed road just yet. Dan and I met while I was living in a condo on the Lakeshore. I had lived there about 6 months without any real encounters with the neighbours. One day while waiting for the elevator, two guys came out and were waiting as well. One tall handsome stranger says to me something along the lines of "Nice shoes...". I honestly have no idea what else he said because I was so fixated on his beautiful blue eyes. We rode the elevator down, flirted mercilessly and parted ways. I barely noticed the other person with him. I remember arriving at my college class in a huff and announcing to my friends "I met the most GORGEOUS man in the elevator and I will never see him again, I know it!". A couple weeks passed, I met my neighbour in the elevator again. This time he was all hot and sweaty, but I was anxious to see someone under the age of 70 in my building so I ignored him and his friend's stinky features just to make a friend. A couple MORE weeks passed, and I bumped into my neighbour again who invited me to see his stand up comedy show the next night. I arrived with a girlfriend and my neighbour directed me to the table where his friends were sitting and lo and behold, there is the gorgeous man from the elevator! We spent the night talking and flirting and completely hit it off. The next 12 days we were virtually inseparable. I know exactly how many days because I had a three month trip to Italy booked and I remember when I looked into Dan's big blue eyes thinking "What am I supposed to say?! Well it was wonderful to meet you, but in 12 days I'm leaving the country for three months. See you when I see you! It figures!!!".

Three months passed. I shopped, worked a bit, learned the language, and made incredible friends in Italy while Dan.... Well.... He was being Dan. Anyone who knows this man knows that communication is not his forte. In any case, I think he enjoyed his summer. We talked and emailed intermittently over the months. He answered the phone when I called crying about how much I hated the job I had there. He sent me a photo of himself when I thought I couldn't go another day without seeing him. Then I came home. The next day he arrived at my door ready to drink red wine and eat the 15 lbs of cheese I had sent back! I think there have been very few days since then that we haven't been together.

We've each grown. We've each changed. Luckily for us we grew together and have changed to better our life together. We're absolute homebodies which I think we're both still coming to terms with, but have realized when you have something great don't mess with it! Our favourite times are having a great meal with good friends on our back deck or out on the dock/river raft. We're quirky people (I'll have to get into some of those stories in another post!), but I'd like to think our quirks are adorable and endearing ;) We each strive to give ourselves to each other, our family and friends, and our community as much as we can.

If I could describe "us" in a meal, I would say it's our favourite: steak, baked potato with the works, Caesar salad, and a loaf of crusty bread. Classic, simple, reliably a crowd pleaser, it doesn't require a lot of prep, but you'll get out of it exactly as much as you put in.