Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Ritual

As far back as I can remember when ringing in the New Year, my mother would bake a Greek cake or sweet bread called a 'vasilopita.' What made this 'cake' so special was the hidden coin thrown into the cake batter prior to baking. As a child, it was all about getting the 25 cents, or in later years the loonie (Canadian dollar coin). I never cared much for the actual cake. It was just a plain white cake studded with raisins, flavoured with orange zest and sprinkled with icing sugar. No chocolate chips. No frosting. No whipped cream. No fun. I often pleaded with my mother to add chocolate chips in it so I would be more inclined to eat it instead of crumbling it up in search of the coin, and then leaving it on my plate. Her response was always the same: "This is a Greek cake and I am not changing the recipe by adding chocolate chips."

On New Year's day, I'll be heading over to my parents house for - you guessed it - the cutting of the vasilopita cake. This is one instance where I will stick to my new year's resolution of cutting back on desserts. I will have my slice of cake but I won't be eating it :)

If you want to learn more about this tradition, I have inserted a blurb below from Wikipedia.

"Vasilopita (Βασιλόπιτα) is a traditional New Year's Day bread or cake in Greece and many other areas in eastern Europe and the Balkans which contains a hidden coin or trinket which gives good luck to the receiver. It is made of a variety of doughs, depending on regional and family tradition, including tsoureki.

On New Year's Day families cut the Vassilopita to bless the house and bring good luck for the new year. A coin is wrapped and hidden in the bread by slipping it into the dough before baking. A piece of cake is sliced for each member of the family and any visitors present at the time, in order of age. Slices are also cut for various other people or groups, depending on local and family tradition. They may include St. Basil and other saints, the Virgin Mary, the Church, the poor, the king (formerly), and the Kallikantzaroi (Καλλικάντζαρος), commonly translated as goblins.

Saint Basil's Feast Day is observed on January 1, the beginning of the New Year and the Epiphany season known as the Vasilopita Observance."

Here's wishing everyone a Happy New Year 2009!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays Everyone!!

Tim Burton's 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'

If you have never watched this movie, please do.
It's fantastic!

However you choose to celebrate this festive season...
have a great one!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A new way of painting

Some of you may already know that I try to live a chemical-free lifestyle. By chemical-free I mean using household products that don't contain a lot of harmful or toxic ingredients. For instance, I use vinegar and baking soda for many cleaning chores around the house. I use a scent-free and phosphate free laundry detergent. I use a hydrogen peroxide-based safe bleach. I do not use fabric softener because those synthetic fragrances are really not good for you and many times they make me feel nauseous or give me a headache. Ditto with my dish washing soap. My bath soap. My shampoo. My deodorant.

So, when it came time for the new house to be painted, my husband and I knew that we did not want VOCs' (volatile organic compounds) floating around in the air during and after the painting process. We opted for a relatively new brand of paint from Benjamin Moore called Aura. This paint has no distinct chemical smell and is guaranteed to be very low on the toxic emissions. Hence good for you and for the environment.

The paint was exceptional! It went on opaque. It dried very fast. Seamless touch ups. And it did not leave any lingering smell in the house for days afterwards, the way most household paints do.

Was it expensive? Yes. It was twice as much in cost than regular paint would cost.

Am I looking forward to painting the other rooms in the summer with Aura? You bet.

Do I work for Benjamin Moore?
No. I just know a great product when I use it and Aura paint is a fantastic product.
Even my father-in-law who is a seasoned painter and who is partial to his own paint brand, was impressed with Aura.

Friday, December 19, 2008

alive and kicking

I'm here!

Alive and kicking!

Did you miss me?

I know. I know. I have been truant from my blog.

After my head cold went away, I just decided to focus on getting the new house in better shape i.e. organized. I'm still plugging away at it - little by little each day. Thankfully, the living room and dining room are in better shape now:

The kitchen on the other hand, still needs work. I have a third less storage space in my new kitchen than I did in the previous place.

I don't have a lot of counter space. Many of my baking and cooking things are STILL in boxes. Which means less ambitious cooking for the holiday season on my part. Although, I did manage to make these tasty chocolate coconut snowballs the other day.

Jubilation! My final OCAD course is done and OVER with. I received a final grade - an A! I can now upgrade my existing design diploma to a Bachelors of Design degree. Hip hip hurray!

Christmas is quickly coming up. I have not really decorated the house aside from a few baubles hanging on some branches in the living room. We have decided to not get a tree this year. You know, in an attempt to keep the household expenses down.

I much rather put my money into one of these kitchen islands from Ikea:

And then there is my new-ish job. Did I mention that I found a part time job? Well, I did. It has also been keeping me occupied for a month now. I work for a kitchens and bathrooms retailer as a junior design associate. There is plenty to learn and a LOT of job training involved. I'm enjoying the novelty of the job, learning all about kitchen cabinetry, wood joinery, different surface finishes, faucets, plumbing, kitchen counter tops, bathubs, sinks, toilets, tiles...whew! That is a lot!

Also, in an attempt to get back to designing things in the new year, I have been eager to get my workshop space functional. It's still in disarray. Right now it looks like this:

Speaking of designing, I haven't decided yet if I will stop entirely with jewellery making and switch to designing another product. I was actually thinking of designing housewares and making accessories for the kitchen.

All that being said and done, I think we're ready to take the plunge and get a new pet come Spring. I had talked about it here on my blog. Starting this coming Monday and for the next 2 weeks, I will be cat-sitting for a friend of mine. She has an exotic breed of cat called a 'Cornish Rex' and I am going to be put to the test...having to clean up after another creature besides my husband. Yikes! I have a sensitive gag reflex so the mere sight of animal scat is enough to send me hurling LOL!

Before I sign off, I also need to mention a new addiction that I recently acquired.

It's called Mad Men.

I hope you know what I'm talking about. I wasn't too keen on this show when it first watched it on DVD but now I am finding that I like it more and more. Being a late comer to this show, I am now trying to catch up by viewing the episodes on-line at

I'm really looking forward to the new year. New beginnings. New inspirations. New projects.

A new season of Dexter.
A new season of Mad Men.
And a new season of Weeds!

Perhaps a new flat screen TV too? Right now I watch ALL my TV shows on-line on my 12-inch laptop.

What are you looking forward to in the new year?

Friday, November 28, 2008

staying afloat

I have been incredibly busy these past few days.

First, there was the move. What can I say other than I'm still swimming amidst boxes and all kinds of belongings that do not have a new place to call home yet. I guess organizing takes time. The painting had to come to a halt. Only 3 rooms were painted. The living-dining room and the bubble gum pink bedroom (the latter room took 3 coats of primer and 2 coats of latex paint to cover). The seafoam green kitchen with fruity tiles and the hockey-themed basement will have to wait until the summer to undergo changes. There's no way I want to be smelling paint fumes and chemicals while I sleep at night.

Then there is my night school course that is wrapping up and I am still plugging away at a ten page assignment. It's due on December 8th. The great thing is that my research topic is on the science of scent and I'm really enjoying the research part but not the essay writing part.

And lastly, there is the part-time job that I just recently got which involves computer-based training that I have to undergo before I can officially begin my position. The training has started but I am no where near completion. The training has to be completed by the end of December. I am hoping to complete the training sooner so I can start working.

Other than that I am doing okay. I still haven't found the time to get my flu shot. God help me if I get the flu now!!

The Christmas holidays are fast approaching and I have barely made a dent in my gifts list. I'm avoiding shopping malls at all costs. I did make a few purchases on-line which has helped me tremendously. Hurray for the internet and Etsy!

Well, I should get back to my research paper. I hope to return with better, more exciting and less hectic news in a week from now.

Have a warm and safe weekend.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Today, I'll have my cake and eat it.

I love eating birthday cake!!

There are so many great things about it:
Celebratory. Pretty. Fancy. Colourful. Decadent. Rich. Creamy. Sweet. Delicious. Tasty. Satisfying. Moist. Melt in your mouth. Euphoric.

And some not so great things:
Addictive. Fattening. Stores junk in the trunk. Sugary. Caloric. Cavity-causing. Coma-inducing.

Am I forgetting anything? Ah, yes...!

Birthday cakes also mark another year of getting OLDer!! Don't ask. I'm not telling.

Can I have my cake now?!

I need to drown my woes of getting older in a whopping slice of decadency.

Happy Birthday to me!

*Image taken from

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dudes want a brasierre.

About a year ago I watched the movie Kinky Boots and found it an entertaining, enlightening and inspiring movie about a shoe designer catering to...cross-dressers, drag queens and any man who wants to dress like a woman. It is a fun British movie and I do recommend it to those who like a good laugh as well as a great marketing idea.

Today, I came across this article on-line and I was completely and udderly (pardon the play on words) baffled by the trend. At first anyway. It makes complete sense though.

Men who enjoy wearing women's clothing cannot do so comfortably because of their size. Their feet are bigger. Their rib cages and skeletal frames are bigger. Try as they might, men just can't fit into women's brassieres.

This is where I say: I wish I could have thought of that. Seriously!

Was it George Costanza or Kramer that came up with the idea of a man bra some 8 years ago? At the time we all laughed and thought it was a joke.

Designing lingerie for men. Brilliant!

Business 101. Tapping into a market that never existed. Addressing a market need. A niche that needed to be filled, just like a bra cup that needs to be filled. Ugh, okay BAD joke!

I'm not only curious to find out more about this market. For research purposes - of course. I'm intrigued and amused that this is happening in Japan. Don't get me wrong. Cross-dressing and drag queens are everywhere. I just never would have thought Japanese men would be buying into this.

Excerpt from on-line article:

Since launching two weeks ago on Rakuten, a major Japanese web shopping mall, the Wishroom shop has sold over 300 men's bras for 2,800 yen ($30) each...Wishroom Executive Director Akiko Okunomiya said she was surprised at the number of men who were looking for their inner woman..."I think more and more men are becoming interested in bras. Since we launched the men's bra, we've been getting feedback from customers saying 'wow, we'd been waiting for this for such a long time'," she said.

Watch Kinky Boots and you'll know what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Just for Laughs: Kitty Segway

This is hilarious!! I almost want to get a Roomba AND a cat just so I can partake in the joy of watching this up close.

I wonder what the cat is thinking while riding its Roomba-Segway?

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Surprise! I painted my kitchen.

Just kidding, this isn't my kitchen. It's a photo I found on Flickr.

I really like this shade of green. It has inspired me to paint my overly white kitchen this juicy, fresh shade of green.

I stopped by The Home Depot today and picked out a whole selection of paint swatches in greens, blues, beiges, browns, whites.

The photo above shows the entrance and partial living room space of the house. My husband really does not like the mocha-coloured walls (says it's too dark) and I'm not a huge fan either, so we have decided to paint the living room and adjoining dining area. I have not yet decided on the colour of choice but more than likely it will be a lighter shade of the existing colour.

Another thing that both my husband and I do not like is this peg-board box that is currently covering the radiators on the main floor. Not only does it decrease the heat efficiency in the house but it is also an eye-sore. There are three of them in the living room/dining area. And one in the kitchen. We are not sure if we should leave them there for now, or tear them out. Tearing them out would cause damage to the floors, walls and surround molding. If we leave them there until next summer we will have to paint them now with the new wall colour.

Can you say Pepto-Bismol? This pink colour has got to go! Two coats of primer are required to effectively rid the pink tinge off the walls before a new colour is applied. I'm leaning towards a deep blue-gray shade.

And for you Toronto Maple Leaf fans, how about a two-toned navy blue and white basement for your viewing pleasure? Seems the previous man of the house had installed his very own hockey shrine in the basement. We are not keeping the colour scheme. We will be painting the entire basement a solid white colour to brighten up the space.

Any thoughts? Ideas? Opinions?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My ultra white kitchen

Welcome to my soon-to-be new kitchen. This is where I will be doing my cooking and entertaining come November 15th.

The kitchen is a good size and I'm happy about that but I also feel that it needs some colour. It is just too stark and white. The walls are a lovely seafoam green but I don't think the colour really goes in a kitchen . What do you think?

Also, I have another dilemma. There are four tiles on the backsplash with a fruit medley painted on them. I do not like images of fruit on tiles. For those of you that are 'do-it-yourself' home renovators, I need your advice and suggestions on how to cover up those four tiles. Do I paint over them? Do I take a chisel and chisel them out and pop in 4 new tiles in white? Is this even possible to do? Ideally, I would love to have a professional redo the entire backsplash in a mosaic of black, gray and white glass tiles (see photo below), but that is out of the question for now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Halloween Anniversary

I consider myself very fortunate to have my wedding anniversary so close to Halloween.

Why? Because I really enjoy Halloween. It brings out the kid in me. Halloween satisfies my affinity for spooky films. It nourishes my love of all things chocolate. And, Halloween costumes are great fun too! Truth be told, I no longer go 'trick or treating' or get invited to Halloween parties. But I do enjoy seeing all the fantastic, unique costumes parading around the city from children and wacky adults, just like me.

Wait, there's more. October 28th is not just our wedding anniversary. It also commemorates our very first date, eight years earlier. I swear, we did not plan it this way. It just coincidentally happened like this. And I'm sure glad it did.

This year for our wedding anniversary we will keep it simple. Last year we went to a fancy restaurant in Yorkville and had a very good meal. This year, given that we have made the purchase of a lifetime, I think we will swap chocolate bars instead.

The supermarket in our neighbourhood carries an eclectic variety of gourmet chocolate bars from international chocolate manufacturers. Recently they started carrying Vosges chocolates. I have read about Vosges before on food blogs, so as soon as I saw Vosges on the shelf, I pointed it out to my husband and we stood there reading the packaging, seeing all the various flavour combinations and envisioning chocolate divinity.

Here's just a small sampling of Vosges' creative combinations:

Barcelona Exotic Candy Bar hickory smoked almonds + Fleur de Sel grey sea salt + deep milk chocolate

Black Pearl Exotic Candy Bar ginger + wasabi + black sesame seeds + dark chocolate

Goji Exotic Candy Bar Tibetan goji berries + pink Himalayan salt + deep milk chocolate

Red Fire Exotic Candy Bar Mexican ancho & chipotle chillies + Ceylon cinnamon + dark chocolate

Mo's Bacon Bar - New Applewood smoked bacon + Alder wood smoked salt + deep milk chocolate

So, as you can see, I'm completely fine with getting a chocolate bar (or two!) as an anniversary gift. Vosges chocolate is not your standard, nuts and nougat bar. It has pizazz!

(I hope someone called 'John' is reading this...wink...wink.)

Along with the decadent chocolate, I think I would also like to watch a movie to commemorate BOTH my anniversary and Halloween. And what better way to do this than to watch a horror movie - of course! I think I have a few movies in mind that I am interested in watching, thanks to Lindy Loo's blog, but if anyone else out there has a suggestion, I'm all ears.

Speaking of ears, I saw the cutest pair of elf ears at a party supply shop last weekend and seeing that I have shorter hair now, I think those elf ears would be perfect for me to wear on Halloween day when I'm out running errands. Just for fun!

So heads up to you fellow Torontonians. If you happen to be at Fiesta Farms supermarket, between October 28th and October 31st, and you see a petite, dark-haired Mediterranean woman poking around in the chocolate aisle, spending an unusually long period of time reading chocolate bar packaging AND wearing elf ears...don't be alarmed, it's just me shopping for my wedding anniversary in Halloween style.

Trick or Treat!

Friday, October 17, 2008

You're my obsession...I cannot sleep...I must have you!

"El Naturalista shoes express a different way of thinking and acting. Being a naturalist entails respect for a rich, profound philosophy that lays its trust in life and attributes everything to nature. Making El Naturalista shoes out of vegetable-dyed leathers and recycled rubber is part of our holistic approach to shoe design. We provide footwear for people who advance while they walk." (

El Naturalista soles

I was in a shoe store last week with my husband. He was buying shoes for work. I was browsing. Then I saw them. My future shoes! I smiled at them. I picked them up. I admired them. I really liked them. Then I looked at the price underneath. I gasped! I put them back on the counter. Three hundred and something-something dollars for a pair of boots from El Naturalista. There has to be more to this shoe than meets the eye.

I jotted down the name of the shoe company and back at home I surfed the net until I located the main website online. I also found a Canadian distribution site for 'El Naturalista'. What can I say other than I am smitten by all of their shoe designs. From an aesthetic perspective, they look great from every angle. Even the sole is beautifully thought out and styled. The attention to detail is remarkable. I'm obsessed. These are the shoes that a perfectionist dreams about.

Furthermore, they're the product of a Spanish shoe manufacturing company. Spain is also home to the uber stylish and comfortable Camper shoes, which we all know and love. Could there be another Spanish shoe line that is comparable to Camper? Perhaps. But wait, there's more!

In terms of the manufacturing and quality of the shoes, here's what the company is touting:
El Naturalista shoes have been " impregnated with olive oil" (no kidding! sounds good enough to eat) and they are made with recycled cork, recycled rubber, and leather that is tanned using vegetable extracts and ground tree bark among other things. How eco-conscious of them. These shoes also provide reflexology attributes, breathable insoles, anatomic insoles and ergonomic rubber. And they can also help you lose those unwanted 10 pounds with a revolutionary weight loss 'nanosphere' technology. Just kidding! The true test though, would be to try on a pair and see for myself just how great these shoes are. If you own a pair of El Naturalista shoes, please leave me a comment and let me know what your experience has been.

For now, I guess I can ONLY dream about them.

Here's a song that explains exactly what I am feeling right now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The ritual of good chocolate

I received a bag of these delicious Pavlidis "Giaconda" (Tzokonta) chocolates from my mom, who just got back from Greece. The bag is almost empty. Only in Greece, eh? Pity!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Just for fun!

I enjoy a good, hearty laugh from time to time. I think laughter is an important part of our overall health and mental well-being. So, on that note, I have a little treat for you.

I'll be the first to admit that I have a horrible singing voice and I also enjoy making up my own words to songs when I don't know what the heck the singer is saying. For instance, Pete Townsend's song, "let my love open the door" was once sung as, "you might have opened the door" by yours truly, until my husband (the Pete Townsend fan that he is) made it his mission to correct me.

I do not watch television. I do not enjoy watching shows like American Idol or Canadian Idol but I do occasionally enjoy a good laugh at someone elses expense.

When watching this video clip just remember that the performer is attempting to sing in English.

To my fellow Canadians: Happy Thanksgiving !

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I'm it!

I've just been tagged by the very talented, jewelry designer, Charlene of "Adding a Little Colour to Life."

The rules:
1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here's the dirt on me:
1. I'm a night owl. I do my most creative thinking late at night, usually after midnight.
2. Long fingernails and toenails on people is a BIG pet peeve of mine.
3. I think I've got the widest hips of anyone I know. It makes buying jeans extremely difficult.
4. I can go for weeks without listening to music. Then one day, a song will pop into my head and I will become obsessed with that song until I listen to it half a dozen times.
5. I like hiding behind doors and jumping out and scaring my husband when he least suspects it.
6. I have an extremely acute sense of smell to the point where I will get a headache from scented products or other foul odours like sewage or rotting garbage.
7. My favourite film genre is horror movies. I watch them all year round and not just during Halloween season. I prefer movies about hauntings and the supernatural as opposed to slasher flicks.

I'm tagging:
Kickpleat of "The Small Joys"
Laurie of "Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska"
Lindyloo of "Yeah, that Vegan Shit"
Megan of "Raised on Sunshine"
Kalliope of "ich Kalliope"
Dawn of "Vanilla Sugar"
Fiber of "28 Cooks"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

before and after

Before ...

and after...

After a series of setbacks with scheduling a hair appointment, waiting over 2 weeks for the appointment to arrive, being 20 minutes late for the appointment, having the Aveda salon send me home for being late (can you believe that?), and re-scheduling for the very next day, only to have the salon call me a couple of hours earlier and tell me they will have to re-schedule due to a an issue with the student appointed to cut my hair - sigh !

I gave up on Aveda and went to a girlfriend's trusted hair salon...And, I actually got an appointment on the same day!! The haircut itself lasted a mere half hour compared to the hour and half that I normally am required to sit in a chair when an Aveda student cuts my hair.

So...f-ck Aveda and hooray for me!! I was inspired to write that from one of kickpleat's (Everybody Likes Sandwiches and The Small Joys) fab greeting cards found on Etsy!!

Anyway, I will no longer be clogging up the bathtub drain with grotesque amounts of long hair. Hip hip hurray! Hear that husband? You will no longer have to fish out huge wads of wet hair from the tub drain. Nor will you find hairy dust bunnies around the house when you use the Swiffer duster. And you won't find a curly strand of my hair in the Greek salad either...actually, that's not entirely true...the hair just happened to be on the plate and then the salad was placed on top!

The best thing about having short hair is less time required to fuss with it. Also, less shampoo and conditioner and styling products are required, which means "save your money" (think ING banking commercial).

Finally, I have spotted the cutest cloche hat on Etsy which I truly need to get in order to keep my head warmer in the winter months. So, here's to nice haircuts and nice cute hats!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My New Kitchen Buddy: Double Action Potato Masher

I purchased this potato masher a few months ago but had not used it until this weekend. The most obvious reason being that mash potatoes is just not a summer time food. This evening however, I was in the process of making tofu chili and had just emptied the contents of two cans of plum tomatoes into the pot. I decided to use my potato masher to mash up the whole tomatoes, rather than dice them up beforehand.

This kitchen tool worked like a charm. The 'dual action' mashes both the tomatoes on the bottom of the pot as well as any tomatoes floating around in the liquid. Awesome!!

With Canadian Thanksgiving just around the corner, this masher would be perfect for making sweet potato mash or garlic mash potatoes!

Best Features:
  • stainless steel for easy clean up
  • can withstand high temperatures
  • comfortable handle
  • minimal use of force required; great for people with arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome
  • can be used for mashing tomatoes, potatoes, boiled eggs, tofu, bananas and cooked carrots

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Custom orders

Two bracelets, hot of the pliers, ready to be worn on someone's wrist. These two bracelets are actually custom made for a client. The client wanted a "gaudy" bracelet with a little bit of vintage thrown in. One for her, the other for her sister. The client has seen photos of both bracelets and is very pleased with the results.

I have also acquired a new selection of Fall/Winter inspired beads and will be creating some new pieces for my Etsy shop. Coming soon!