Dîner en Blanc Inspiration

With hot and humid summer weather still in full swing, there is definitely still time to enjoy the opportunity to dine al fresco. 

Here is some inspiration for a pretty table setting from my Dîner en Blanc Toronto table. Thank you to Metro Ontario on Front Street East for the surprise vases filled white hydrangeas that made our table perfect. 


Product Sources:

Dishes and chairs from IKEA Canada

Table from Canadian Tire 

Champagne Flutes and candle holder from iittala 

Peach, Mozzarella and Basil Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction 

It is peach season. A tomato and mozzarella caprese salad is one of my favourites so I decided to put a summertime spin on it by using peaches instead. 

All you need is basil leaves, mozzarella and peaches. To make the balsamic reduction – bring balsamic to a boil and simmer for ten minutes till it takes on a thicker consistency. I used 1/4 cup since I only needed a small amount. If you have not tried a balsamic reduction before, you will love the more intense flavour it brings to a salad. 

Enjoy this simplistic fresh summer salad!  

Food. Love. Family.

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” ~ Julia Child 

Since I was a child, I have loved all things food. I grew up with my great Mummi taking care of my brother and I during the workdays while our parents were at work. I always came home for lunch during my public school years and enjoyed all my meals being made scratch including the most amazing homemade deserts. I would often bake with my great Mummi and Mummi and learned to cook from both of them. I remember how we would spend the day baking Finnish pulla, cinnamon rolls and Christmas cookies. I always wanted to make my own cinnamon braids to compliment my great Mummi’s perfected ones. On Saturday evenings, our family would enjoy a homemade meal – often steak and ceasar salad – complete with dancing in the kitchen to the CHFI 98.1 Saturday Night Oldies. Amazing special family memories were made in the kitchen and around food. 

In grade five, I went to after-school baking class to continue to learn more. With a Loblaws close to home, I truly believe Dave Nichol, the PC products and the Insider’s Report sparked an interest in international cuisine. I hosted decorate your own pizza birthday parties as a pre-teen. In junior high school, we had to select an afternoon activity to join for the last week before summer started. I signed up for the French Club all because we got to go on an outing to a French Restaurant. On a grade eight school trip to Quebec, we found ourselves in Ottawa on the final evening. Three friends and I thought it would be fun to go to a fancy hotel for coffee and desert. To me, it has always been exciting to figure out where to dine on family holidays. I enjoy searching recipes and planning ideas to entertain. I love indulging in cooking and television shows about food, cookbooks, magazines and following all things food on social media. I get excited about new grocery and food stores opening, attending cooking classes and have definitely adopted a European-style to food shopping. It is no surprise when I travel that I may find myself in a grocery store, kitchen shop, food hall or market to see what they stock that may be different from home. A great dinner party filled with good food, wine and conversation makes me happy. 

Despite this interest and love of all things food, the busyness of our modern world sidetracked my enjoyment for cooking. For too many years, I have struggled to figure out what to cook for one so I would opt for unhealthy options or dining out to make life simpler. Last autumn, I committed to returning to the kitchen and get cooking again to ensure I stay healthy as I get older. I have enjoyed the mindfulness of escaping into the preparation process but still struggle after long and busy days to sometimes get motivated to cook. It is a definite ongoing journey but I am looking forward to continuing to learn and try new things. I hope to share a few of my food adventures and inspirations along the way. 

Happy cooking to me! 

My Sweetie Story 

My love of charm bracelets started at a young age as I adored one my mother had from when she was a little girl. No surprise it was love at first sight when I discovered the Links of London sweetie bracelet. My sweetie includes a heart charm to represent love and kindness, the globe for travel and the reminder that the world is my oyster plus two Little Miss charms from my favourite children’s books for a wee bit of fun. Little Miss Sunshine represents my positive attitude and Little Miss Princess for my love of everything girly and pink. 

The Perfect Weekender 

Summer means many of us are escaping to a cottage, country house, beach or city getaway. Not only does one need to plan what clothes to pack but also what to pack them in. 

Since I was a young girl, I always had a LeSportsac bag for school and travel and they are truly bags that last forever. I had one for close to 25 years before finally saying goodbye. Care is simple – hand wash and let dry. They also pack easily inside a suitcase in case you may need an extra bag for the voyage home. I love all things LeSportsac. After not seeing them in Canada for many many years, I am happy to discover them again. 

Meet the newest addition to my collection ~ The LeSportsac Extra Large Weekender. It is absolutely perfect for my weekend getaways. Definitely worth the investment. 

Simple Summer Essentials 

A few of my simple summer essentials  -my Coach sunnies, a Mad Hat Cap, Bobbi Brown Stonestreet Bronzer, Rodan + Fields REVERSE Broad Spectrum SPF 55 Sunscreen for my face and Rodan + Fields ESSENTIALS Body Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30. Whether I am in the city or by the lake, these are a few of my favourite things that help for a happy sun savvy summer. 

A Map is Worth a Thousand Words

Do you feel like you lack creativity? Are you ever stuck trying to come up with new ideas? Is your preferred learning style a visual one? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may love a great brainstorming tool called Mind Mapping®

A Mind Map® is 

  • A colourful, visual form of note taking that can be worked on by one person or a group of individuals
  • At its heart is a central idea or image
  • The idea is explored by the means of branches representing main ideas which all connect to the central image of idea

I lucky to be introduced to the concept of Mind Mapping® when I joined the Junior League where we used it to plan a community project. It helped our team to brainstorm by documenting any ideas that popped to mind to help create a place to start our planning from. It is a brainstorming tool that I continue to return to when I am looking to spark creativity.

Mind Mapping® is very practical both professionally and personally and one can utilize this brainstorming tool in the following ways:

Professional

  • Action Plans
  • Agenda
  • Business Plans
  • Disaster Planning
  • Leading a Meeting
  • Launching a New Venture
  • Lesson Plans
  • Meeting Minutes
  • Presentation Development
  • Project Plans 

Personal 

  • Event Planning
  • Holiday Shopping Plan
  • Interview Preparation
  • Resume Development
  • Study Notes
  • Travel Planning
  • Weekly Calendar

If you are interested in learning more, you may wish to visit these great resources from Tony Buzan, the inventor of Mind Mapping®.

Web:
http://www.tonybuzan.com/about/mind-mapping/
 

Books:
The Ultimate Book of Mind Maps® – Unlock your Creativity, Boost your Memory, Change your Life – Tony Buzan – 2005

Mind Maps® at Work – How to Be the Best at your Job and Still Have Time to Play – Tony Buzan – 2004

A map is worth a thousand words. Have fun and happy mapping!