Wednesday, August 31, 2011

About last Saturday night....

We were so inspired by Nicole and her Little Brown Pen's A Year of Cheese that we decided to host a cheese night of our own. At QuartreHomme around the corner I bought a creamy brebis, a strong rocamadour and a smooth tomme de savoie. And the tasting began.

All three were outstanding but both Vince and I are suckers for a goat cheese with that gooey layer between the rind and the soft cloud like middle! The brebis was triumphant!

What type of cheese makes you happy?

Love and Hugs

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Happy Anniversary you two crazy kids!

It was 3 years ago today that Ryan and Brittany were married at the Spadina house gardens in Toronto Canada. I'll never forget that beautiful smile on Brittany's face as she walked up the aisle. She looked at Ryan the way I imagine she does in secret. You know what I mean? That truly I am in love with you look. (Big pretty smile with her chin pointed down and her head a little tilted to the side.) And then I looked up at Ryan and he was pretending he wasn't going to cry while making a little smile with his dimples. Truly the sweetest moment ever! It still makes my heart swell.

It was a gorgeous ceremony in the grass followed by a hoppin' party in a chic downtown venue. The food, the decor and the cake were all absolutely amazing! I'll never forget it!

We love you guys! Here's to a million more!

Love and Hugs

Monday, August 29, 2011

How do you practice self love?

I am slowly learning to be nicer to myself. It's an ongoing thing that's for sure. I have to constantly stop myself from saying mean things every few seconds! Isn't that crazy?! Have you ever really and I mean really listened to the things you tell your self on a regular basis? I challenge you to listen for just ten minutes a day and hear what you hear. It's not good. I say mean stuff mostly about my weight, my hair, my zits, my height, my fashion sense oh my gosh and it doesn't stop there. Apparently I also think I am a horrible wife, friend, sister, daughter who never says thank you enough, who talks to much, who is annoying, who procrastinates....... Geeze!
But usually it's about my belly. How to hide it and how to make it smaller. I even remember a time when I was younger I punched my own belly in frustration at it's size.
That's self hate if I ever heard it!

Since last week I have been listening to my inner voice more and more and telling it to shut up. I am loving myself by replacing these harsh words with softer kinder ones. I have even been saying, "I love you cute belly! thank you for being round and keeping me full and helping me eat and giving me that curvy shape in dresses that my husband loves"
Even though I hardly believe these things. But I will keep saying them and saying them in hopes that just how the negative ones stuck the postitve ones will begin to take over and stay there.

This is how I am trying to be happy now instead of later.

What about you? Do you have love or hate for yourself?

Love and Hugs

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's Friday!! How about a good ole fashioned sporting match?

This Friday is all about strong men in short shorts and beer drinking! Vince and I have tickets to go see the Paris VS Bordeaux rugby match at the stadium near our house. I am so excited! I actually really like watching rugby! Much more than boring old soccer. You know I was thinking the reason they have so many riots and fights at soccer games is because the crowd is so bored and try to make fun for themselves! HA! What do you think?

Any plans for your weekend?

Love and Hugs

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's time for a soup off/which bean is better?

First up is Gwyneth Paltrow's White bean soup from her new cookbook. I've become obsessed with beans especially cooking them from dry and since living in France and not being able to find black beans in a can like at home. Man oh man I am craving Mexican food! Anyways. I felt like soup and I like beans so decided to make two soups with two different beans and find out which one worked better. I first saw Gwyneth's recipe for white bean soup in a vegetarian magazine and it made my mouth water. We had to try it out!

The contender is Black bean and sweet potato soup based on Sarah's recipe from My New Roots but a little more me. (Meaning my Mom.) We grew up eating dishes such as hambuger surprise and something something else surprise. She is a truly creative soul and hates authority such as recipes and measurements! There were always wonderful meals on our dinner table made with what was in the fridge and pantry that day. To that sense this how I instinctually enjoy cooking as well.
So there are no leeks or carrots or cilantro like Sarah's recipe. But there are the beans! Oh the glorious beans! And that's what this experiment is all about right? The great bean debate!

So I'm sure you're wondering, who won?

Surprisingly The White Bean soup was the clear winner. We ate bowl after bowl of it with happy faces and full bellies. I think maybe it was the long caramelizing of the onions at the beginning? I don't know but I am definitely making this one again!

Oh yeah and just a friendly reminder......"Love needs to be tended to every day!" Thanks to my BFF Sue for the sweet B-day present!

Love and Hugs

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lighter and Brighter but still down

Barcelona, June 2008

Paris, June 2011

Wednesday is weigh in day for our Biggest Loser season 2 "Revenge of the Maltese Wedding" group. This week I logged a loss of 1.2 pounds! Pretty awesome, right?! Well I wish I felt better about it.

I started becoming an active participant in my weight loss and health care in October 2008. I went to the doctors to get a refill for my birth control pills. She wanted to weigh me and there it was staring me in the face, 245 pounds. I weighed 245 pounds! Since I had recently moved to India with Vince and didn't have a job I got right down to trying to lose weight.

Almost three years later I've lost 45 pounds. But honestly I feel as fat as I always have. I have even more problems with food and eating than before. At least before I was purposely unaware of all the calories and fat I was consumming and enjoying it! Now eating is scary. In my head I hear over and over "Am I eating too much?" "Will I lose my required pound this week?" "Damn it I want that fucking piece of cheese, I'm just going to eat it"

Then the guilt. Oh the horrible guilt.

Well it's got to stop somewhere. I am 45 pounds lighter and I want to enjoy it for goodness sakes. Why do I always want more, faster? I want smaller jeans...bikinis.....eating normally and happily without a care in the world....blah blah blah! If only I could lose 40 more pounds I would be at my goal weight and finally be happy.

Well that's bullshit! I need to be happy now or I am never going to be. How am I going to do that? To tell you the truth I have no idea but I know I can't do it alone that's for sure. Thanks to my Mom I have started food journaling. I also have taken a break from Jillian's 30 day shred and am now only doing fun exercise. Which actually has made a big difference so far.

Does any one else have some other suggestions?

Love and Hugs

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Brother the Genius!

Well folks, it's been a year in the making but finally the Royal Ontario Museum's App is available for download! My brother Ryan Dodge created it! He is the Library tech at the ROM and also a masters student at John Hopkins University. This has been a dream of his and a labour of love from the getgo. Since's it's release on the 19th of August it's been downloaded 1100 times and earned 5 stars.

In case you were wondering, the ROM is Canada's largest museum of world cultures and natural history. It's located on Bloor Street in Toronto and you must visit! They have the largest Dinosaur on permanent display and a 3000 year old mummy! Now when you visit you can use your App to help you understand and appreciate the exhibits even more. You can download the App for free here and learn more about it on the ROM website here.

Oh and while you're there pop into the Library hiding behind the gallery of Chinese architecture and shake his hand, he'll be happy to see you.

Love and Hugs

Source of images

Friday, August 19, 2011

Today Friday is for Mikey

Through the blogging community I have come to find out about the sudden death of Mikey and his wife's request to make his favourite peanut butter pie. I am now on the hunt for philly cream cheese, icing sugar and condensed milk in Paris.

I don't know Jennie and I can't imagine what she is going through. But if she wants us to make the pie we will make the pie. If you have time maybe you could make one for her too?

Here's her blog and the recipe.

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

Serves 10 to 12

8 ounces chocolate cookies

4 tablespoons butter, melted

4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

1 cup heavy cream

8 ounces cream cheese

1 cup creamy-style peanut butter

1 cup confectioner's sugar

1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner's sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

Love and Hugs

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The beer in Lille

Our main objective in visitng Lille was to drink beer and eat cheese. After the emotionally charged visit to Vimy we landed in Lille with the 'drink beer' part firmly on our minds. We beelined to Vieux Lille and one of the best beer bars in town called La Capsule. Vince said he was going to make sure he only tried beers he didn't know. That turned out not to be a problem at all. The bar had 20 beers on tap we had never heard of and another 50 bottles with the same claim.
So we did the appropriate thing and asked for a sampler. The bartender brought over his 4 favourites ranging from a blonde bitter, a red caramel, a smooth blonde and finally a brown triple. The taste test went as we expected......

Vince loved the brown triple

I chose the bitter blonde

And Sunny drank water, "WTF!" we thought we heard her say!

Love and Hugs

P.S. I love my husbands eyebrows in the tasting pics! So cute!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Vimy stole my heart

Inside the visitors center
Our young guide Andre
The landscape changed from war

A maple leaf carved in the wall of the subway
The underground subway
The Memorial
I proudly wore my colours. Sunny too.

Last Saturday we visited the Vimy Ridge Memorial. It is a 100 hectare piece of land that was given to Canada by the French in 1922 in gratitude for sacrifices made by Canada in the First World War and for the victory achieved by Canadian troops in capturing Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

The battle of Vimy was the start of the end of the war. More than
3800 Canadians died for this victory and 66 000 during the entire war.

The details and history will send chills through your body and bring you to tears. To visit the site and stand in the subway where the soldiers waited for the final assualt was overwhellming.

After we left Vimy and drove further north to Lille we couldn't believe the amount of war cemetaries scattered around the countryside. Every turn took us to a new burial ground.

We must never ever forget.

Love and Hugs

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Grand Place Chocolate

We got home from our trip to Northern France yesterday afternoon with a surprise! Belgian chocolates! That's right we stopped in Brussels on our way home. It added an extra hour on top of our two hour ride home and seemed completely worth it.
We headed straight for Le Grand place for a waffle and chocolate shopping. We found this great shop called La Masion des Maitres Chocolates Belge. Basically is a concept store of all the best 100percent Belgian made chocolate. I couldn't resist! We bought thyme, lavender, poppy, salted peanut and something called crunchy champagne! Can't wait to eat them ALL!!

Love and Hugs

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's Friday! How does Vimy, Lille and Ypres sound?

It's a long weekend in France and we're headed north. Thanks to the education my history obsessed brother has bestowed upon me I have made it my misson to see the Canadian National Vimy Memorial before we leave France and I can't wait!

We are also making at stop in Ypres for the daily Last Post Ceremony under Menin gate and then it's 2 nights in Lille for beer tasting and monk made cheese eating!

Be back with stories and pictures on Tuesday. Have a great weekend!

Love and Hugs

Thursday, August 11, 2011

You're soooooo bad!

Ashley's Grilled Soft Cheese, Thyme Honey and Fresh Figs

1 small wheel of soft cheese such as brie or a triple cream (I picked this one up from Trader Joe’s for under $5 and was very happy with it)

1/4 cup honey

a couple sprigs of thyme

fresh figs (as many as you’d like)

In a small saucepan add the honey and thyme and heat on low. You simply want to warm the honey and infuse it with the flavor of thyme. If it starts to simmer, remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat a grill (indoor or outdoor) until very hot. Carefully place the cheese on the grill and sear until marks appear and the inside starts to melt, about one to two minutes on each side. Using a spatula, remove the cheese from the grill and transfer to your serving platter. Half and quarter several figs and place on top of the grilled cheese. Drizzle the figs and cheese with the honey. Serve immediately with crackers and/or bread.

This is Ashley from NotWithoutSalt. She is a girl after my own heart! The figs! The thyme! The honey! The cheese! Am I right?

I'm wondering how I can eat this everyday and still lose my required 1 pound a week? ;)

Love and Hugs

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

An Orange Obsession

Velvety orange roses from the market down the street
Dreamy grey and tangerine bedroom from Lonny

My favourite orange ink pen from Muji in the marais
Sweet orange tomatoes from the market down the street

My comfy orange jersey skirt from H&M
Gucci Orange from Popsugar

So I just realized the other day that I am surrounding my self with orange! I can't get enough. I have always loved the orange/grey colour combo but looking around our apartment I seem to have taken that love to a new level with the exception of the headboard and Gucci dress of course! But man wouldn't I love to have those as well!

What about you? Any colour or combo you are loving these days?

Love and Hugs