Author Archives: Melanie

Figgy cheesy appy


I like this appetizer because it’s a bit different, extremely easy and leftovers are really good straight from the fridge while you impatiently wait for the tea to steep the next morning…what?

I’ll come right out and admit that these are made with store-bought mini-pastry shells, but I have made them before with puff pastry just cut into little squares and it’s just as easy, looks super-cute and then they look more like the homemade appetizers that they are. These are so simple that it hardly qualifies as a recipe but here you go:



One box of tart shells or frozen puff pastry

your favourite cheese — I used Havarti but brie would be lovely as would goat cheese

dried figs

walnuts — my local store has some red walnuts so I used those but regular would be fine



Preparation: chop up your cheese, figs and walnuts and fill each pastry shell. Drizzle each with honey and add a tiny knob of butter to each. If you’re feeling extra fancy, add a few grains of coarse salt too. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Devour with friends, family and your festive beverage of choice. Eat leftovers the next morning while still in your pajamas and pre-coffee.


You’re welcome.


Weekend comforts


1. Definitely considering a word burning insert to replace our gas fireplace insert. I love the idea of wood and an insert sounds like it’s more environmentally friendly and energy efficient that just converting our fireplace back to its original word-burning state.

2. Must try this healthy pumpkin spice hot chocolate.

3. Need to take a trip back here to pick up an apple-scented geranium.

4. I don’t know why this never occurred to me before but I just recently started putting a few drops of lemon essential oil on the dusting cloth and it smells so nice. If anything, it makes cleaning an (aroma)-therapeutic event. I might like to get this scent for winter.

5. Now this might be a contender for the gray easy-knit blanket I’d like to make during the upcoming colder months.

This week in dinners

It’s a bit of a scramble to come up with a weekly plan for meals on a Sunday night, but I know the pain will be well worth the gain when I walk in the door tomorrow night, starving, with two equally starving kids but with the knowledge that a plan is in place.  Here’s what will be on the table for dinner this week:

Monday: gnocchi (not homemade, alas…the kind from the package that cooks in three minutes), with butter, halved-cherry tomatoes, sautéed sliced mushrooms, spinach and for those over the age of five, goat cheese, for those under – cubed mozzarella) + salad

Tuesday: slow cooker chili + sautéed greens and pine nuts on the side

Wednesday: soup, grilled cheese and veggie sticks with minted greek yogurt dip (this must be the easiest dip to make ever — mix greek yogurt with a bit of dried or fresh mint, a spoonful of olive oil, some cumin if your feeling kicky and a generous pinch of salt…it’s dee-lish-ous).

Thursday: wraps with salmon or tilapia, guacamole, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato and lime sour cream + salad

Friday: always pizza + salad night around here. Usually naan bread with toppings and an easy salad to go with the end of week glass of wine.

Saturday: fridge scavenger hunt

Sunday: roasted chicken, lemon potatoes, greek salad

C’est fini.

This week in dinners


I’m an off-again, on-again menu planner. I know that everything goes more smoothly when I take the time to think about the week ahead, but I don’t always practice the discipline of sitting down with a pen and notebook. I even have a subscription to an online menu planning service…so I need to hop back on that bandwagon again too.

There’s a certain kind of comfort that comes from knowing you have *something* in the fridge that will look like dinner.  I have a few requirements: something the five-year old will eat, something the baby can eat even if I supplement with a side of soup for her, and something not planned entirely around carbs as I’m trying to eat less of those myself. And we don’t eat pork. Or beef. And one of us loathes eggs. Gah. So here’s this week’s line-up:

Sunday: We’re out tonight, but I’m going to pop a frozen whole chicken in the crock-pot (oh yes you can!) with some potatoes and carrots for lunches tomorrow and ready-cooked chicken for Wednesday.

Monday: Baked salmon, sugar-snap peas, egg-noodles tossed with butter, feta cheese and cherry tomatoes.

Tuesday: A big platter of steamed veg (broccoli, cauliflower, leftover sugar snaps, sweet potatoes, sliced turnip) with spicy peanut sauce on the side, pan-fried turkey breast, bread and butter for those who want it. Seems like a lot of work with the vegetables but the whole platter can be done in advance and leftovers are great plus the other dishes are really easy.

Wednesday: Tortilla wraps with chicken (from Sunday), lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream and sliced avocado. Spicy ready-made chipotle sauce on the side for the parents. Side of steamed broccoli or just left over veg from last night if we didn’t eat it all.

Thursday: My mother-in-law’s spinach soup with chicken meatballs that she gave us on Friday and that I froze for this week. Plus buns. Easy, easy. A good night to have that relaxing glass of wine while doing practically nothing to prepare dinner.

Friday: It’s always “homemade” pizza night on Friday. And by “homemade” — I mean “assembled” at home. Store bought naan breads, cheese, spinach, cherry tomatoes and olives. Side soup for the baby. Done.

Now that wasn’t so hard. I’m sure I can do this again next week.

Weekend Comforts


1. Currently making this, but in a turquoise blue. I’m looking forward to knitting something plain next. Something white or pewter gray and easy. Good for snuggling into the couch on a cold night.


2. Pondering whether to get an indoor fig tree. They look so restful. From

3. Can’t wait to make something from Ricardo’s new slowcooker book that I picked up yesterday. I was at a work event and my booth was set up next to Alison Fryer of The Cookbook Shop fame so it’s hardly surprising that I came home with something. Sitting next to Alison made the day fly by and I highly recommend a trip to her store when you’re next in town.

4. A lemon pudding cake for dessert tonight sounds just about right. I like to make something a little extra special for dessert on Sunday nights. Not the usual yogurt, bananas with milk or applesauce fare.

5. Something like this may solve my problem of where to put all the mitts, and hats that accumulate by the front door.

That 70s House

I’m surprised my friend Sonja over at Life on Elm and I didn’t fight over the name of “That 70s House” for our blogs. When you have a house that was built when Pierra Trudeau was Prime Minister of Canada, it needs a few renos. Here and there. While Sonja will be detailing a more full scale reno, here’s a sneak peak at my smaller project. And by “I”, I mean that “I” hired somebody to paint my front door. I don’t know what I was so nervous about. It’s just — I’ve never painted a metal exterior door before! Now that I see there’s not much too it, I won’t be so worried for next time.

Now, you’ll see that this isn’t the original door. I think it was replaced maybe 10 years ago and it’s still nice. There were a few chips in the paint though and I’m just tired of the red.



First two coats are on with a third coat slated for next week of the new colour. I need to get some pumpkins to keep my orange-nosed friend up there company and then I’ll post the results.

Weekend comforts

It’s still the weekend here – yee olde Canadian Thanksgiving – so it’s not to late to squeeze in a Weekend Comforts post – a random assortment of comforting bits and bobs.

1) I was listening to somebody talk about the feeling of getting into a bed made with line-dried sheets. And it *is* kind of an amazing feeling but I’d need to install something. This is pricy, but I like that it isn’t permanent.

2) The colour of this made my heart flutter a little. I wonder if I’m up to knitting it.

3) How cute is this hobbit house? Oh to be small enough to settle into one of these little cottages.

4) After some actual literature (I swear), I picked up this at the library and it’s just sweet. Like molasses candy or something. Just old-fashioned and sweet.

5) Would love some prettier mugs for tea. These colours are beautiful.