Tuesday, December 20, 2011

[ happy holidays ]

THE HOLIDAY SEASON is the perfect time to enjoy some downtime and recharge for the New Year. Despite the crazy-busy year it has been, it's been a good year with so many things to be grateful for.

My heartfelt thanks to all of you for following along, leaving such lovely comments and well wishes, offering encouragement and often a good laugh. Your friendship has truly touched my heart.

May your Christmas stockings overflow and all of your wishes come true. Happy Holidays! xo

[via homegrownhospitality.typepad.com]

Monday, December 19, 2011

[ spicing things up a little too much ]

AFTER YOU have had your fill of turkey during the holidays, a pot of chili is a great way to feed a crowd and is great comfort food on a cold winter day. Have you ever made a pot of chili and realized that it is much too spicy to eat? What do you do?

Well, this happened to me recently even though I was following my usual recipe to a T. Little did I know that the chili powder and cayenne pepper I stocked our kitchen with here in Dubai were much more potent than those I had in Canada or Ireland so quantities should have been adjusted.

Well, with my mouth on fire just from taste-testing a spoonful, I quickly researched for a way to salvage my chili without having to start again from scratch. 

Try one of these:
1 add a spoonful of sugar
2 add a tsp of baking soda
3 add a drizzle of honey
4 add a spoonful of smooth peanut butter

Any one of these should take down the heat. I had to try all 4. Finally, with the peanut butter, it was saved! I had to add a bit more salt afterwards but managed to get it back to being edible. whew!


Friday, December 16, 2011

[ happy weekend! ]

WELL, Christmas is quickly creeping up on us and this is it, the last full weekend of shopping before the big day. Wouldn't it be nice to wake up on Christmas morning to this?

Hmm...what might Mr. Snowman have in that Tiffany bag? Have a great weekend everyone!

[via itsnotalwaysrainbowsandbutterflies]

Thursday, December 15, 2011

[ in the red ]

SOMETIMES just one hit of colour can say it all for the holidays. In this case, red ribbon.

I love how the red really pops with all the white around it. Amazing what just a bit of red ribbon can do.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

[ pretty gritty ]

EVER THOUGHT you can't mix industrial with girly? How about this?

A coffee table made from a simple palette and big castors somehow feels right at home with the girly settee and pink touches in cushions and blooms. What do you think? Would you go for this mix?

[via little emma english home]

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

[ dubai film festival ]

DUBAI HAS been abuzz with the Dubai International Film Festival this week and the preview screening of Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Tom Cruise has been the highlight of the Festival by far, signing autographs and attending the screening of the latest MI film that finds Tom doing his own stunts swinging from the Burj Khalifa.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

I'm looking forward to seeing the movie when it opens in theatres here. One of the Canadian expats I've met here auditioned for a part as a extra last year and they filmed a few scenes. We're anxious to see if they kept her in - how exciting if they did!


Monday, December 12, 2011

[ turning everyday into holiday ]

ONE OF MY favourite ways to decorate for Christmas is to give the everyday a festive feel. And this home does just that.

By simply combining fresh chartreuse patterned bedding with a couple of raspberry pillows, and hanging up a simple boxwood wreath, a holiday feeling is implied without a Santa in sight. Remove the wreath after the holidays and in a flash, the holidays are over.

Gifts wrapped in simple chartreuse paper with the addition of red toile bands, feel festive even though there's nothing distinctively Christmas about them.

And this tablescape feels festive, even though no holiday-motif patterns are used. Again a simple boxwood wreath and Christmas tree add the holiday feel, but come January, ditch the tree and the wreath and this tablescape would work any time of year.

How do you decorate for the holidays? Simple festive touches to the everyday or all-out Santa theme?

[style at home]

Friday, December 9, 2011

[ my one bowl chocolate cake ]

IT'S MY guy's birthday tomorrow so it's time for his usual chocolate birthday cake. I thought I'd share my recipe because it really is a heavenly cake that you won't be able to resist. And everything is done in one bowl which makes it really easy.

Lisa's one bowl chocolate cake
This is a delicious, moist, fudgey cake - it doesn't rise up super high since it's a bit denser than those ultra fluffy boxed mixes. But once you've tried this, you'll never make a mix again.

what you need

1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup boiling water

how to

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 2 9" pans.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer.

Stir in boiling water. Batter will be thin.

Pour evenly into prepared pans.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to a rack to fully cool.

Rich chocolate frosting
Time to frost! If you are tight for time or lazy, you can always use some store-bought icing. But this icing is super good so it's worth trying:

what you need

1 cup butter softened
4 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk {or maybe a bit more}

how to

In large bowl, cream butter. Gradually beat in icing sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Add enough milk until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Makes plenty for a 2 layer cake. The longer you beat it, the creamier and fluffier it gets.

Frost and decorate as desired. If I'm not writing on the cake, I'll often put a few chocolate curls on top by running a potato peeler across a chocolate bar.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

[ traditional arabic coffee ]

ARABIC COFFEE is all about tradition, hospitality and ceremony. It's a sign of welcome and marks the beginning and end of a guest's visit. Recently we were presented with a lovely gift of a traditional brass Arabic coffee pot called a Dallah.

The Dallah is an important symbol in the UAE and even appears on their dirham coin.

Not to be confused with the thick, dark Turkish coffee, Arabic coffee is called Khaleeji, is paler in colour and is served in a small cup with no handles called a Finjan. It is traditionally ground with cardamom and prepared by adding cloves, saffron and rose water.

The coffee is served and received with the right hand. The host serving the coffee fills the small cup only half full so it cools quickly. As soon as the guest drinks it, the cup is refilled continually until the guest gently jiggles the cup indicating he has had enough {it is customary to take 2 to 3 cups}.

Sugar and milk are never added but it is often served with dates, an extremely popular sweet here in Dubai. Emirates Airlines also serves Arabic coffee and dates on its flights.

Arabic coffee can be served anytime at home, at social gatherings or business meetings. I've only tried it once and found it quite strong and bitter {I enjoy sugar in my usual coffee} but perhaps I'll develop a taste for it now that I have my own Dallah.

[mine, via camerasandcucumbers, 2, 4 via arabiczeal]

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

[ hey cutie ]

JUST A BIT of holiday cuteness with donuts! Perfect with hot chocolate after a fun afternoon.

[via creativeholidaygiftideas]

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

[ a little cottage charm ]

DON'T YOU just love the simplicity of this kitchen? The white beadboard walls and ceiling add texture, the plate rack adds charm and the old window and pie cupboard create a pretty vignette. I love the rustic pot hook on the end of the island for those everyday necessities. I'm guessing there's an entire wall of appliances and the sink which allows for the big island for prepping. Definitely something I'll bookmark for my future beach cottage {I can dream!}

[via lilla blanka]

Monday, December 5, 2011

[ my seaside christmas ]

DECORATING for Christmas this year is different to say the least. Not only is our tree and all of our decorations in storage, we're also enjoying summer temperatures here on the Arabian Gulf. So it seemed fitting to have a bit of a seaside theme this year.

My freshly painted console seemed like the perfect spot for a Christmas vignette. I pulled together items I had around the house, bought some berry branches and a cloche {I found one!}.

first up, some simple homemade shell ornaments....

my antique bottles hold up ornaments under a cloche...

some coral and a shell on a glittery plate...

my cake dome acts as another cloche...

some fake snow and a pretty sparkly bird...

more old bottles and a glass bathroom jar with shells and silver balls...

little metal stars dress up the knobs...

a starfish and 3 baby ornaments in a silver-leafed concrete bowl as a simple centrepiece...

I'm enjoying this simple vignette with just enough sparkle to add some holiday spirit.

What colour scheme are you decorating with this year?


Friday, December 2, 2011

[ homemade chalk paint console makeover ]

REMEMBER THIS console we shipped here from Muskoka?

Well, I've been meaning to give it a facelift for a while now and was really excited to hear about Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint {partly because the results are always so pretty, and because you don't need to sand or prime first - I'm lazy}.

Well, my excitement fizzled when I discovered that no one in Dubai carries it and no one will ship it to me here either. :(

Plan B: homemade chalk paint

I stumbled upon a couple of suggestions on how to make your own so I thought I'd give it a try.

I had some pretty Duck Egg paint from Laura Ashley and decided to use that {eggshell finish} 1/2 cup and mixed it with 1 tbsp of Plaster of Paris.

The best part is chalk paint requires no prep ~  just start painting.

I chose to do 2 coats. The paint dries fairly quickly.

Once the second coat had dried for a couple of hours, I distressed the edges a bit with some coarse sandpaper.

I wiped it clean to remove all sanding dust and then it was time to wax.

I chose Lundmark Clear Paste Wax. Why? Because that's all I could find in Dubai. I was hoping it would be as lovely and soft to work with as Annie Sloan's Wax is supposed to be.

This wax was awesome! I applied it with an old cotton sport sock on my hand and it went on smoothly in a nice thin coat. After about 10 minutes of drying time, I buffed it with a clean sock.

Some new knobs to add some sparkle.

All done! Can you see the lovely sheen the wax gave it?

You can add a coat of a brown wax over top if you want to add a bit more age. Since I couldn't find anything other than my clear wax, I left it as is.

I'm so pleased with how it turned out. The homemade chalk paint worked like a charm and was so cheap. My favourite part was the waxing - it was quick and it gave the perfect sheen.

Now what else can I paint?



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