Springing from Winter

The weather is FINALLY getting warmer! FINALLY! FREEEEEEDOOOOOOOM! I feel like I’ve been indoors way too much lately so Paul and I went out to the rail trail in Hamilton and took a bike ride! It was great to get outside and not freeze my tail off! I am not totally in love with summer because I am not a fan of the heat, but spring and summer definitely have their good qualities.

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One of which I am enjoying on a nightly basis; barbequing. I know it is possible and perfectly fine to BBQ in the winter, but I am not willing to do it myself and thus far, I have not convinced Paul it is worth it. I find the two of us actually eat a lot healthier in the summer because we just throw some kind of meat and veggies on the grill.

beer-can-chicken-7

That is what I am really going to talk about today, grilling food! I’ve discovered quite a few marinades and simple 5-minute recipes that make cooking in the summer a much easier task!
This first one, Paul and I actually discovered while prepping for a group camping trip. There were several groups of people and each group was going to cook one meal. We were dinner for the first night so we planned to make kabobs! We had some veggie and chicken, but the steak was the best. Cut into small pieces and put into a bowl with the marinade, by the time we cooked them the meat was so tender. I usually don’t have the patience (or forethought) to marinade meat over night, but this made me a convert. If I’m going to marinate, I’ll do it overnight.

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One thing I have done for a few years, is take zucchini or asparagus, coat with olive oil and garlic plus seasoning. Very simple, but absolutely ah-mazing! I almost feel like that is cheating because it is so easy.
I’ve sprinkled a few photos of other favourite recipes and linked back to the original pages. You have only to click on something that looks delicious!

Pinterest

I am sure most of you know what Pinterest is, but I am going to talk about it today because it is just that awesome. I could spend hours on there planning my entire life. For those of you who are easily addicted to things, this might be a rabbit hole you could skip.

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One of the first things that comes to my mind when I think of Pinterest is the funny cat pictures and random meme’s the internet has produced. As great as these things are, there are amazingly useful things out there. One of my favourite things to look up is workout tips and tricks. Things that either make working out more efficient or just getting to the gym a little easier.

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Exercise is something that we should all do, but most people dislike. There are so many little things that make it a lot easier to handle. When you’re getting discouraged and need a little pick-me-up there are all sorts of motivational photos and stories there too. If you’re like me and the touchy-feely motivational stuff doesn’t really do it for you, there are plenty of informational photos about how much good exercise does for you. The benefits you don’t know you are reaping when you run, do yoga, or just move in general. When all else fails, there is always sarcasm and dry humour.

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What goes hand in hand with going to the gym? That’s right nutrition. You can find a recipe for literally EVERYTHING on Pinterest. It is actually insane. I have a food board and I feel like I should split it into categories. My latest obsession has been salads and miscellaneous other foods that can be put into a mason jar and are ready for grab and go eating. I actually got this from a friend of mine and when I looked it up, BAM there were a billion recipes and ideas for meals in mason jars! Genius I tell you!

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I always like to keep recipes I’ve found random places on this board too, just to keep track of them. I read a few food blogs, some listed on the Lovely Blog Hop post, and I’ve tried quite a few recipes from these blogs and LOVED several of them. I pin those up along with the interesting recipes I want to try.

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There are a lot of really clever tips and tricks for cuisine that I would have never came up with! One I haven’t tried yet, but thought was really cool is freezing your chopped garlic with olive oil in an ice cube tray. This way when you need it, you can simply slip one of these garlic cubes into the pan and have chopped garlic instantly! It works well with herbs as well; if your fresh herbs are going to go bad, give it a try!

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Food an exercise aren’t the only areas of my life that I keep organized with Pinterest, but they’re certainly a couple of the biggest contributors. My boards are public so anyone can look at them. You can check out the mess of things I have pinned here. I will go over a couple more of my boards in a couple weeks, I would be able to sit here and write forever about the things I’ve pinned and my everlasting love for Pinterest, but I thought I would keep it relatively short!

Avocado Alert!

I know this might seem totally random, but I have a deep love of avocados. I find that a lot of people avoid avocados because they don’t know how to tell if they are ripe or not. I am going to give you all the tips I know about telling if one is ripe and my favourite guacamole recipe!

Ripe

The above guide gives the tip about removing the stem to check for ripeness, but the technique I use is slightly different. I press the top of the avocado around the stem. If it is going to go bad, this is where it would start. You would be able to feel if it were super mushy, and you will also be able to tell if it is not ripe. Around the stem should not be rock hard or mushy, but have a little bit of give. So far, this technique has NEVER led me wrong.

Pit and Peel

Now, I will share my favourite guacamole recipe!

3 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1 large tomato
3-4 cloves of garlic
¼ cup of cilantro
1 small lime
6 green onions, chopped

Avocat

Cut avocados in half, lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seed. Then, use the same spoon to scoop out each avocado’s flesh and add to a medium bowl.
Add diced tomato, chopped cilantro, pepper, minced garlic, lime and the green onion to the avocado and stir to combine.
I will not lie to you, I don’t mince or chop anything… I add all these ingredients to a food processor and let it do the work. Try to keep a little bit of texture because chunky guacamole is better than purely smooth guac. Best served chilled.

Seven Month Wedding Update

It has been a little while since I updated everyone on the state of wedding planning. I try not to do this too much because I know that not everyone is interested, but when I read blogs, some of my favourite posts are the personal ones. They just add another layer to the writing and helps everyone remember that there is an actual person behind the post.

Anniversary Selfie

The wedding is coming up fast, as of the 18th we passed the seven month mark. All the fine details are starting to get all ironed out. I was actually slightly panicked before Paul, our wedding planner Meagan and I went to our menu tasting. I kept thinking that we have none of the fine details figured out and we still needed to do things like center pieces, menus, etc. My head was starting to spin with all the work that still needed to be done and I felt overwhelmed just thinking about it.

I simmered down and we went to the tasting. It was pretty good; we managed to pick out our menu and wines with minimal trouble. Afterwards, the wedding coordinator for the venue came and sat with the three of us to get something of a timeline down. There were a lot of decisions made that night, and the coordinator got the information she needed to give us a more solid quote.

Tasting Picture

Our table at the tasting.

On the way out of the building I mentioned to Meagan that I was a little apprehensive about all the work that was still to come. She kinda said, “What are you talking about, there is so much already done.” As she started listing things off, I realized she had been asking small things of me every now and again that helped with those details. The centerpieces were close to done, and all sorts of small details had been grafted together into a coherent picture. I had been planning things without even knowing it. Clever clever, what a perfect way to get information but not overwhelm.

A few days later Meagan emailed the quote to us and prefaced it by saying she was a little concerned about the price. It was fully double what the original quote was supposed to be. After my simultaneous aneurism and heart attack, I emailed back and started the list of things we can cut. However, Meagan put a hold on that and went back to get us a better price. I am really glad I have her to take care of things like that; getting someone who knows the ins and outs of weddings is 100% worth every penny.

I was getting too frazzled with this process so I handed that one to Paul, he is better at that kind of thing anyway. I had made my preferences known and what I was willing to live without. I am sure he will do a much better job than I would at this point anyway.

Paul and I also booked out honeymoon! The first week we are going to Chicago again. Vogue Knitting Live Chicago 2014 is the weekend after the wedding, so we’ll be there for the week before and have time for the conference over the weekend. We enjoyed the city so much the last time that I couldn’t wait to go back! The list of things to see and do only got larger no matter how many things we saw. There is also Vapianos to look forward to! My mouth just started watering, you should never write about delicious food while hungry; its’ just painful.

Vapiano 2

For the second week we are going to the Sandals resort in Antigua.  Anyone I tell asks me where Antigua is and I simply respond with, “warm.” It’s actually near the Dominican Republic. I’ve never had a resort vacation and I am really looking forward to it. I think it will be especially necessary after spending the week touring around Chicago and conventioning. This cold has gotten to me and I’ve been dreaming about warm sunlit beaches for a couple weeks now. Marianne will laugh at me since I caught the travel bug just like she said I would. In all fairness I thought I would catch it too, so I delayed traveling as long as I could. Once you’ve been bitten on the other hand, it’s a life-long condition.

Aside from this post, I think the last thing I updated everyone on was the ‘Save the Date’ postcards. Those have been ordered and we are just finalizing the guest list trying to get out numbers figured out. Right after the postcards I am going to figure out the invitations themselves. Since having invitations made was so expensive, I am going to work on them myself. I am not completely sure if this is a good idea or not.

Paper crafts are not where my creative skills lie, and you can’t exactly knit invitations. That wouldn’t be keeping with our theme anyway. I think I have found something on Etsy that looks promising. There will be pictures and messages when it comes through; IF it comes through.

That is the next big thing on my to-do list, invitations!

Day Two NYC

Day two of New York City knitting adventure complete!

This morning I had the class Hand-Painted Yarn: Customizing a Palette with Natural and Botanical Dyes with Rhonda Fargnoli. It was really REALLY interesting. You can make dye out of just about any plant! Rose pedals, violets, goldenrod, all flowers with natural colour! I’ve decided that is what I am going to do with any flowers Paul buys me in the future.
I actually took my first step into the realm of dyeing and bought a dye sample kit. They’re going to ship it home to me, but it has the five key plants that make the vivid colours. You may look forward to seeing hand painted yarn here in the future!
Lunch was at the Hard Rock Café, sorry to all the foodies reading, but Paul needed to get his collector glass.
After lunch was my class looking good coming and going; creating fabric with two attractive sides. I’ve never done a cable scarf because one side would be lovely and amazing, while the other side would be very ugly. However, Melissa Leapman taught us several stitches that may not be the same on both sides, but are very attractive on both sides. I also learned the basics of double knitting, which is very close to the linen stitch pattern; you just don’t do the wrong side purl-wise. I was dying for more of these stitches so I ran down to the marketplace and bought her Stitchionary. I think it will make a particularly good addition to my library.
I checked out the 6th floor market place for the little bit of time I had, and found someone who created… knitted glass! Apparently the process includes, knitting with wax, creating a mould, melting out the wax and piping glass into said mould. They are AMAZING! If I didn’t have a wedding to pay for, I would be headed home with a lot of knitted glass. There is a link to her work here.
My next engagement was Amy Herzog’s lecture, Knit to Flatter. The content was very interesting and mostly regarding what aspects of garments look best on what body types. It was a very captivating lecture and Amy did a great job of making it fun, not just a one sided lecture. She was hilarious and obviously didn’t stand on a figurative soapbox to tell you exactly how things should be. I usually go into a class or lecture and take everything with a grain of salt. Some teachers and speakers are really set in their ways and cannot imagine how their way would not be the best way for someone else. While I go into all lectures with a very flexible headspace and prepared to drill through a class or lecture to the core of what they’re trying to teach me. I didn’t have to do that with this lecture. Amy openly admits that you need to adjust things for your own purposes. She handed out bare bones tools and let you decide how to use them and how they would best benefit you. I really REALLY enjoyed her lecture and was completely captivated by her.
Immediately after Amy Hurzog’s lecture I went to the cocktail reception party. There were some hors d’oeuvres and wine. I wandered and found a few people I had seen from my classes earlier in the day. I also met a few new people whilst there! We made plans to sit together during the Gala tomorrow night. I suggested someone send up a flare when they found a seat, but I think the hotel personnel would frown upon that.
Dinner was much better than the Hard Rock Café. Some of the ladies in my second class were talking about food and where to eat nearby. The mentioned that 8th and 9th avenue have smaller restaurants that were less touristy, twice as good and half as expensive. Paul and I decided to just walk down there until we found something that either smelled really good or specifically heard something calling our name. As luck would have it, I noticed Chelsea Grill by Hell’s Kitchen. I had heard several people talking about Hell’s Kitchen and how mind-blowing the food was; so we stopped in there.
I cannot say enough about this place. The food was amazing, the service was great! It wasn’t a huge restaurant with an impersonal staff; everyone worked as part of a team. I think there were 5-6 employees working in the seating/bar area, and they all tag teamed off everyone else. A waiter picked up some dishes from our table before our waitress got there, and another waitress processed our payment while the waitress who helped us most of the time was helping another table.
Paul ordered chicken wings to start, and I got the blacked chicken Caesar salad. Both of these were incredible; my chicken was seasoned and cooked to perfection, while Paul’s wings were straddling the line between flavour vs. sauciness.
For the main entrée we shared bacon wrapped meatloaf with smashed potatoes and fried spinach. I don’t even know how to describe how good this meatloaf was, but if a picture is worth a thousand words… here is the rest of my post.