Fantastic Almond Chicken Soup

20140514-125031.jpg

A dear friend of mine introduced me to this fantastic recipe and not only does it taste AMAZING it is also really healthy.

Almond Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken stock
1/2 onion, diced
1 minced garlic clove
1 large sweet potato, diced
2 chicken breasts, 1″ pieces
1/2 cup almond butter
1 cup chopped kale
2 tbsp minced ginger
coarse salt and pepper
1 lime, wedged

Directions:

  1. In a pot combine chicken stock, onion, garlic and sweet potato, then let this mixture come to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to a simmer,  then add the chicken and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl mix almond butter and 1/2 cup of soup into a paste, give those arms a little workout or use a handy little blender.
  4. Next your going to add the kale and ginger to the soup. Bring this to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the almond paste.
  6. Add some lime juice and eat up!

An Exciting Renovation

I am currently working on a home renovation with a fantastic family!  The house was built in the 50’s and as you can see by the images below the house was built true to its time period.  When I first meet with a client I always have a list of questions that I like to review with them so I am able to best determine their wishes, needs and expectations as well as ensure things go as smooth as possible.  The scope of this work was to renovate the Kitchen, Dining Room and Living Room.  I am standing in a small room off the Kitchen looking into the space that will be the main focus of our work.  To the right of this image is the Living room and at the end of this room you can see the dining room.  The entire space was gutted, the wall in the middle of the room was taken down, the bulkheads above the cabinets removed and all the aluminum interior railings where taken out.

Image

Below you can see the East side of the house and here I am standing in the middle of the galley style kitchen and photo below that is facing west.  Image

Image

In this picture the Kitchen area is on the left and the front door is on the right. Image

Here is a full view of the Living room, the smaller windows, closed space and arches in front of the windows created a dark space.Image

This photo is exactly behind where I was standing when I took the picture of the living room above.  The front door is on the left and the Kitchen is on the right.  These steps lead to the bedrooms upstairs.Image

As you can see this house was ready for a change, as were its occupants!  In the initial meeting I have the client provide me with some adjectives of what they want o see in their home.  The words that were most forefront were inviting, comfortable, classic, timeless and welcoming.  So over the next couple of months these words are what we are going to use as our jumping off point for this renovation!

In the next post we’ll explore where we are now with the renovation!!

Sarah Richardson –

Her designs are sleek and yet inviting all at the same time. We have begun to renovate our home and whenever I am stuck as to what to do next, all I have to do is look around her website, look through her portfolio or watch a few of her shows and voila – all becomes crystal clear!

We have recently finished the main bathroom in our home (which was all Sarah inspired) and even though its a bathroom, all I want to do is sit in there. Sometimes I catch myself standing in the doorway and I have to remind myself that its a bathroom, where people do their business, but I just can’t seem to get enough. I am not really a bath person, but I have taken more baths in the last couple of weeks than I ever have!

I just find everything she does so magical and I would give up ice cream for the rest of my life just to meet her – and for those of you who know just how much I love ice cream know this is like giving up my right arm!

Easter Flower Arrangements

I went to my parents house this afternoon, where I helped my mom get her house ready for her tea party tomorrow night. She wanted a center piece for her dining room table so I went through her home and found a couple of baskets laying around .
20130320-135425.jpgFor this arrangement I used a magazine storage box.

20130320-135439.jpg

My original plan was to make only one basket, but once I got started I was having too much fun and had to make another one. She had just purchased some pansies to plant outside, but since it has been too cold lately they were still waiting in their containers to be planted.  My mom had also cut down a lot of vines and pruned some branches from her curly willow trees, both of these were going to work perfectly. I was outside gathering the clippings when I discovered some beautiful moss in the grass and also some weeping ‘silver leaf’ to fill the baskets empty spaces. On my gathering expedition I also found a couple of decorating pieces to use, little iron birds and small eggs in a carton.  I ended up using plastic bags for filler at the bottom of the baskets and from there I just has fun playing around with the different elements.  Due to the fact that the containers were so different I wanted to use the same elements in the arrangements to bring the two together, but at the same time play off of the different styles of the containers.  I had so much fun and am really please with the finished arrangements!

45 Minute Hot Buns!

I have to be honest when I tell you that I have had great success and great failures when it comes to using yeast.  As I do with the rest of my cooking/baking I always tend to add a little dash of this or change the recipe to my liking.  This has most definitely been my down fall when it comes to using yeast.  This past year I decided I wanted to conquer my fear of this stinky peculiar product and time and time again I became more fearful.  After failed cinnamon buns, loaves of bread and the worst looking buns you have ever seen, I was even more determined to get things right.  I followed recipes absolutely perfectly and although it was against my will, I did not add even the slightest bit piece of personal opinion.  After trial and error I figured out where I was going wrong: Letting the yeast proof too long, adding flour/various ingredients at the end of the kneading process and punching the dough down after the last rise prior to the baking process.  Of course I also determined that there is a time and a place when there are exceptions: this is where I was thrown a curve ball in the past!  This past week I have rocked pizza dough and dinner buns and questioned myself throughout the entire process.  Below is a recipe that I came across after making soup and deciding that I wanted some delicious warm buns to go with it.  After scouring the internet I came across a straight forward plan for exactly what I wanted: dough that didn’t need to sit under a cloth in a warm place for hours on end, but could be ready from start to finish along with the rest of our meal.

 

Hot Buns

 

45 Minute Dinner Buns!!

http://www.honeyandbutter.com/bread/30-minute-dinner-rolls

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp warm water

1/3 cup Vegetable oil

2 Tbsp yeast

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

3 1/2 cup bread flour (I find bread flour works best, but all purpose flour will also do the trick)

Preheat oven to 400F. Mix water, oil, yeast, and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer and let it rest for 15 minutes. Add the salt and egg, mix thoroughly. Gradually add the flour. Divide into 12 equal pieces, and shape into round balls. Place onto a greased baking sheet and let it rise for 10-15 minutes. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Now let me outline my fears seeing as I have more fails using yeast than wins:

  1. Fear #1: The buns didn’t seem to rise that much on the greased baking sheet after 15 minutes (I did place them beneath my under cabinet lights since its winter and our home is a little on the cooler side).  My worrying was definitely in vain.
  2. Fear #2: After 10 minutes the buns were not even brown – I was afraid I was going to cook them too long, but I did end up adding an additional 7 minutes to the timer and the tops were slightly brown, but the bottoms were quite dark.

 

Below are the buns prior to rising for 15 on the baking sheet (beneath the under cabinet lights and a tea towel – I still don’t know why I cover them with a tea towel, but I do it because all of the other recipes have called for it).

IMG_6385

 

Here are the bins after 15 minutes, they did rise slightly, but I thought that they were supposed to be fully risen prior to cooking, I didn’t realize that in the oven they would rise that much more.

At this point I put them in the over with the timer on for 10 minutes.  I peeked in on the tiny little buns progress every minute and after 7 minutes I saw significant growth, but the colour wasn’t yet close to brown.  I figured there was no altering things now – such as adding more yeast or kneading again, but I had to add some time, I wasn’t about to serve raw yeasty dough.  It was a trying process and my patience was given a chance to grow, but after 7 extra minutes they came out perfectly.

IMG_6395

 

 

Wall Paneling and a Brick Fireplace

The wall beside our front door was something straight out of a 60’s magazine, it was not only difficult to look at, but it was the most ridiculous design I had seen in a while.  Sweet mercy, this thing was ugly!  Have yourselves a look at the fireplace stand, the vent hanging from the ceiling, the half wall and the wall paneling behind the brick.  The paneling  itself wasn’t bad, but the wall was flimsy and needed to go.  Yeah, that’s my Dad Rick in the picture and it is quite a feat to find a photo of him, that he knows is being taken, without his hand in front of his face!  Anyways, he’s a huge help and was rip rearing to go!

DSC_0175

With a good sledge hammer and some man power this unsightly thing was coming down!

DSC_0182DSC_0188Now that the brick was gone, My Dad stripped the walls to the studs and him and I started the horrendous job of drywalling.  Oh, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I hate mudding – its honestly the worst part of renovating for me.  The grit in my hair, eyes and mouth, the driest hands I have ever felt and waking up in the morning and still having white drywall dust film in my eyes from the night before!  I digress, I knew what my vision was for this wall, I wanted a space for our TV, a fireplace and art.  After consulting the internet and devouring my hoards of decorating magazines, I had it down!  I wanted the center portion to come out 8-10 inches, with the fireplace recessed under the TV.

n180500794_30613329_3052

After days and nights of mudding, sanding and perfecting my not so perfect job, we were ready to paint.

DSC_0225 DSC_0227

DSC_0410

We still have to arrange the furniture and get everything back in order, but it gives you an idea.  We didn’t tackle the entire vent, but it was filled and the hole was covered.  And the floor is missing under where the brick was, but it provided a great eyesore, which is another great reason to keep moving!  Exactly what I want – an entire overhaul!

Paxton’s Cake Smash

My Sweet little boy has turned one!!!  It has been an amazing year and he has blessed our lives beyond belief! My brother Brendan  is always more than willing to help me see my visions to fruition, so he took photos.  I have been seeing these great cake smashes for a child’s first birthday and wanted to have one for our little boy.

This year has been all about getting it done, so I made a cake, decorated the wall with the ribbon alter I made for a friends wedding, stripped Paxton to his diaper and let him at it!

First Cake Something Catches his Eye Almost there And he goes for the candle Umm Icing Eating the Candle Handful Delish Sprinkles Fun

Oh, this kid is such a ham!!  I LOVE HIM!

Dear 40 Something Self

As I said earlier I have been reading letters that people have been writing to themselves and wanted to do something similar, but here’s a little twist.

Dear 40-Something Kinsley,

I am sitting here thinking about you and of course it is in our nature to worry. I am worried for you. I wonder who you are in life and if you have yet to find your place, because right now I am feeling so very lost that I just want to quit trying. I feel like life is never going to be right and that all my days of trying are never going to pay off. I am sure that somewhere down the line you’ve decided to have kids, but my biggest worry right now is that I am going to be a horrible mom and fail at it too.

I worry that you’ve lost in life and that you’ve let your anxiety take over. I worry that you still feel like the weight of this scary world is crushing you. I hope you have learnt how to control it and that it no longer runs your life like it has been for the last couple of years. If you have let if take over – face up – for he is always there! If you have figured out how to conquor it – how did you do it?

I worry that you aren’t where you imagined I’d be. And often, I worry you are. I worry that you don’t take care of yourself and that you settled. I worry about what you will look like and if my days of fun in the sun have taken effect. I am sorry about that.

Right now I am head over heels in love with Jordan and I pray that you will always fight for that. I pray that you two will always fight for each other and that you will never be able to get enough of one another. We live in a lovely little house, just the three of us – Jordan, myself and little Mr. Monty (who will can always make you laugh).

My heart still doesn’t know which way to go. I still like to decorate, but is it where I am supposed to go? I love to spend time with my friends and family – but that doesn’t earn anyone a living. What have you chosen? Do you feel complete? How did you find your way? I pray that you still love to paint – if you haven’t done it in a while – pick up that brush, it does magic in your heart. How has running been going? You used to love it and get a rush from all that disgusting sweating. I just got back from an amazing cruise with all my family – have you been traveling much?

I wish I could just know how everything turns out so I could stop worrying. I should just learn how to stop worrying without knowing the future.

I am 26 right now and my family and friends are the best – they make my world go round and they make life so amazing. How are they doing? I wish that I could see my letter that my 40 something self wrote to my 20 something self and that it would read something like this…

“Kinsley, you look amazing – stop being so self conscious. You life turned out so well, so you can stop worrying. Don’t forget that there is more to life than trying to keep everyone safe, including yourself. Things with work will work out better than you can imagine and you have the best career in the whole world.
You have the best husband ever! Things work out perfectly maybe not on the timeline you originally planned but trust me, its all worth the wait. He will not be the man you expected but oh, is he the man you need.

I should also mention — you’re going to be a mom. It’ll happen at exactly the right time. You will have a wonderful pregnancy and an easy delivery. Epidurals ROCK. There’s nothing to be afraid of and oh my gosh – wait till you meet your kids. You can’t even imagine the wonder, beauty and magic that they will bring.

Let’s talk about our mom. She’s your best friend. Keep it that way. Forget the petty bulls*** because life is way, way too short.

Thanks for working out – it has paid off and you started taking it seriously at the right time. Also thank for wearing sunscreen – your skin is wrinkle free (Okay maybe that’s taking things too far!)

Just live in the moment if you can – love where you are at each and every moment! You are perfect just the way you are – so stop trying to be someone else – I love you and you’re doing great!”

Well that helped lift my somber mood out of the depths! And it looks like if I don’t worry soo much things will be great!

Its Really Taking Shape!

By noon on Friday our cabinets were installed and installed by one of the nicest man I have ever met.  I hope that somewhere down the line I will meet him again and it will turn out that he is the uncle of one of my friends and that we could get to know him.  He installs cabinets for a living, all day he works by himself and yet he is so appreciative for work, happy to be living and was so helpful with any of my questions/concerns. I normally want nothing to do with unknown men, regardless if they have a crown or a halo.  Any time I have to meet with some man I don’t know (or barely know) I make Jordan come with me as my security guard.  But there was something sincerely relaxing about this man.  I pray that he is blessed immensely and that other can be as uplifting for him as he was to us. Isn`t it lovely!

Alright, onto our Kitchen.  By the time I started loading up the shelves and drawers I realized that I was going to have to be much more strategic, not just a little, but like playing Monopoly at Christmas with my brothers strategic. I thought that I would finally be able to reclaim my linen closet and no longer have hot sauce sitting beside my pillow cases.  No really the case, although our Kitchen is so much more beautiful than what we had before, something has to be said about additional storage spaces in the 60’s.  Yes, the old cabinets were ugly and very impractical – there was a lot of storage.  The 60’s saw an extensive use of upper cabinets, hood fans with cabinets above them and corner cabinets that seemed to go into the abyss (even though you could never access that back corner due to lack of light and practicality).  In our new Kitchen we have a section full of upper glass cabinets, where organization is a must and is home to only beautiful dishes. We also have a range hood with a neck that reaches for the ceiling and allows no room for upper cabinets.  Aside from our truly magical ‘Magic Corner’, there is no where to put dry goods.  I jsut need to say that I love these ‘magic corners’ and it need to become a standard in every Ktichen to elimiante those terrible waste of space corners and lazy susan (whose Susan anyways?)My wonderful in-laws came over to help renovate this weekend and what a blessing that was – Jordan’s dad helped him with the flooring and his mom helped me organize life in our new Kitchen. Here`s a look at our new floors!Antoinette seems to be an organization guru and gave me the much needed perspective.  After I realized I could begin moving into my new Kitchen I pretty much crammed my cupboards full of goods as fast as I shovel ice cream in my mouth, not caring where it was going, but just getting it in there.  I soon started to panic, I still had a linen closet full of dry goods, a cabinet full of Tupperware and coffee cups stacked on the counter and the cupboards were full.  She quickly assessed the situation and realized that I was not the organization master I pretended to be.  After about an hour she had me and the goods sorted out and much to my happiness things began to fit!  There still are a number of deficiencies that are going to be sorted out in the next couple weeks, so we can’t get completely settled in quite yet.

Already unorganizedOur new Kitchen is lovely, but when I first came home I immediately noticed some things that weren’t right, not so wrong that Mike Holmes would come over and rescue me, but wrong enough that I am not satisfied.  The deficiencies range from cracked doors, wrong drawer fronts and soft close doors that are not so soft close, nothing to loose my composure over, but enough that my Kitchen doesn’t really feel finished.  Today we have a representative coming over from the cabinetry shop to resolve any issues, but I think it will take another couple weeks to have it finished.  Granted we still need to finish the flooring and tile the backsplash, but I just wish it was something we could cross off the ever growing list.  It will all be completed in a few short weeks and I just need the patience to get there.  I am so pleased with how things have gone and have been so blessed to have an amazing husband who takes the time to learn how to plumb in our Kitchen faucet and sink. Seriously, Jordan is a mastermind, he can watch a Youtube video on soldering and 5 minutes later we have a new hose bib!  He has been working feverishly at getting our flooring done is already half way done the 750 square foot area.  By 10pm I usually have nothing left in me seeing as I am in my fist trimester and I turn into the worst renovation helper that ever existed. I tend to try to complete the task lying down, with one arm or whine enough that Jordan sends me to bed.  The other night I wasn’t feeling so hot and at 6 I found myself making a little bed on the corner of couch sticking out of the rubble – that was it for me and my very unhelpful skills (see below).  I woke up 4 hours later, made my way to bed and slept until 8am the next morning – worst renovator ever!  My little make-shift bedThen there’s Jordan, he’s up until midnight every night, working endlessly to complete a task and not resting until he’s satisfied or until our neighbor makes a point of telling him that they are going to bed (I am sure they tell him so that he stops using the table saw at midnight, but maybe because they want to wish him a good-night, who knows).  We have a great group of friends and this being the long weekend coming up, we are all getting together for a stay-cation here at home.  One of the events on Saturday is a BBQ at our house, so we are on the clock to have the flooring, granite and baseboards completed, so no more slacking for me, its time to step up.See you later Old Cabinets – have fun at the dump!

Here Comes the Cabinets

Our Kitchen cabinets were delivered yesterday and I don’t know if I have ever been so eager to renovate a space in my life.  I love re-doing spaces, but I don’t think any other reno will feel as satisfying.  It seems as though the moment we bought the house all I have been thinking and dreaming about is a new kitchen, I sketched and sketched until I had my vision right and couldn’t wait for it to come true!  To me, it’s the perfect marriage of feminine and beachy and as far as I can tell I am going to love every aspect!!  My slim, well kept folder is now busting with papers and samples. The papers are now so worn and so loved that they appear to have come through the centuries, instead of only being a couple years old.

Here’s what we started with and yes, it came with the amber plastic ‘glass’!

Just over a year ago I could stand it anymore, the Kitchen was just too ugly and was draining my love for the house, so I decided that I was going to take things into my own hands for a little bit.  Redoing the Kitchen consists of redoing the ceiling, leveling and replacing the floors, new lighting and then the actual cabinets.  Being that the Kitchen renovation was going to cost an arm, a leg and our first born, it was something we were going to have to save up for.  I figured that we could afford a couple cans of paint and so one afternoon I took all the doors off and painted my heart out.

It was better than the sweetest ugliest Kitchen I could have imagined!

In January we decided that it was time to start taking the Kitchen apart.  One portion of my vision included removing the existing window above the sink (because that is where the stove and range hood were going) and add two new windows to the wall overlooking the park.  There was already one window, but it was gross, old, half of it made of Styrofoam and a serious eye sore.  So, Jordan moved my turquoise Kitchen into the dining room and our dining room table along with the chairs and rug were piled onto our guest bed.  Jordan worked and worked and worked until the project was completed.

Here is the hardware I have chosen, isn’t it sweet!! I love the elements that the glass and chrome bring to the Kitchen.

This Kitchen is a seriously longtime coming and I when the truck arrived yesterday to drop off the cabinets it was all I could do not the hug them.  As soon as the delivery man left I madly ripped open one of the boxes and peeked at my new cabinet doors.  It was like Christmas Eve and I was forced to wait until the next day to see them and so when no one was watching I opened a gift. Look how excited the cabinets are, they are soo happy to finally be home!

I know that they are still in boxes but I can’t help be in love already!

I just can hardley wait to tear into these boxes! It should only be a couple days until the cabinets are completely installed!  The install is happening as I type and all I can think about is running home and watching it unfold.  It’s a good thing I have a meeting all morning because otherwise I would not get anything done.  I am so excited that if I got into my car after work and it wouldn’t start I would kick off my stilettos and run home!  Can’t wait!