It’s amazing how a set of outdoor tableware can change how one feels about eating outdoors. I recently won a flatlay contest sponsored by Collective Influence, a blogger/influencer association, of which I’m a member, and Kitchen Stuff Plus, one of southwestern Ontario’s leading kitchen and homewares stores. The prize was this beautiful tableware set for eight that my family and friends loved using this past weekend.
The tableware is called the Madrid and it’s part of the Blue Sky collection. It’s made out of BPA-free melamine that won’t mark when you use a steak knife on it like we did this weekend! It’s light-weight, dishwasher safe, and the perfect size for a bbq meal or just lounging around at home or in nature. The dinner dishes are the same size as indoor plates but the side dishes and bowls are slightly larger. These larger side dishes and bowls can be used as extra dishes when you have more guests.
My husband, kids, and guests loved that these outdoor dishes were blue and colorful, and that the pattern wasn’t overwhelming. They were so excited to sit down for dinner! It was fun to eat off of these plates and be surrounded by the floral design and blue tones.
The turqoise placemats picked up similar colors in the plate design. And, the large glass tumblers were the perfect size for keeping hydrated in the summer. Preparing an easy and simple dinner meant I spent a lot less time in the kitchen and I could let the tableware be the centerpiece.
This is my first themed outdoor set of tableware dishes, and I love them! Having the large bowl for serving a salad big enough for eight was perfect, and the serving platter fit the barbecued steak as well as the baked potatoes and toppings. This tableware set is also very easy to clean in that grease and oils didn’t stick to the melamine. For storage, I’ve placed them in the big white bucket that can be used for drinks or for towels during entertaining.
I’m so happy with my choice of tableware pattern for outdoor dining and I cannot wait to entertain again with these practical and whimsical tableware pieces!
What about you? Do you have seasonal tableware that your family and friends enjoy?
Sometimes I come across a recipe that I keep making over and over, like this Roasted Corn Black Bean Salad from Rose Reisman. I’m sharing it because I make it a lot in the summertime!
I saw this recipe in our local paper years ago and thought I would try it because it sounded perfect as an accompaniment to barbecued meals. It’s made with mangoes, black beans. sweet peppers, corn and coriander – all some of my favorite ingredients. The coriander is part of the dressing and the more you use, the better the salad tastes. If you have an herb garden and grow coriander, then you’ll love this salad because you likely already have this herb on hand.
I love to bake, a lot, and recently I’ve been experimenting with cookie butter. I discovered cookie butter about a year ago and I’ve been busy developing new ways to bake with it.
Cookie butter is a spread that’s been popular in Europe for many years and is now available and gaining popularity in North America. Made primarily from speculoos cookies, cookie butter looks like and has a similar consistency to peanut butter.
When I did some reading on the origins of cookie butter and speculoos cookies in particular, I realized that I practically grew up on these cookies! Speculoos, or speculaas, cookies are a Belgian spiced shortbread cookie that are popular year round in Europe. You’ve probably seen them in old-fashioned type tins around the holidays and you may have seen them in the cookie section of your grocery store. Speculoos cookies are brown in color, crunchy, and often have a caramel flavor in addition to hints of cinnamon. In Europe and the Middle East, these cookies are served as tea biscuits and used for baking – they’re consumed and enjoyed all year round.
As someone who suffers from anxiety on a regular basis, I’ve noticed there are three things that have been consistently true about this mental illness: each anxiety journey is personal, it changes over time, and talking about it helps.
When I shared my personal anxiety journey with you in a post on Bell Let’s Talk Day, I mentioned that I would post more on living with anxiety. I have a lot to share.
Anxiety is a personal journey
The first point I’ve noticed about anxiety is that it’s a personal journey.
As the stigma around mental illness is slowly being lifted, more and more people are talking about having anxiety, and no two stories are alike. This was a big a-ha moment for me, because when people would open up to me, I wanted to help. I know what it is to suffer, and I want to share my experience. But, you can’t really give advice to someone else because of the nuanced thoughts and behaviors around each person’s experience.
Each anxiety journey is unique. I took two Cognitive Behavior Therapy classes, which worked really well for me, and it was in the second one that the mental health professional would specifically remind us not to say ‘you should do x, y, or z’ to anyone. We had to use words like ‘for me, this worked’ or ‘I found this helpful in this situation’. At first that bothered me because I had to check myself a lot, but I soon understood. Each person’s story was completely different.
I love living in a big city. There are always new exhibitions to see, restaurants to try, and quaint neighborhoods to discover. In fact, I often feel there are so many options to choose from, and that I miss out on some fantastic opportunities because I just can’t be in two places at the same time!
One of the things that I’d like to share more with you, the readers of my blog, is how to live slow and intentionally. I didn’t realize there was a term for how I like to live. I’m an emotional person, love connecting with people, and tend to overthink things. But I also appreciate all the things life has to offer, the big and the small, the material and the immaterial. I like being alone as much as I like being with others. And, I like walking outside as much as I can, enjoying nature and just feeling a part of the world. Yes, even in a big city, you can experience much of mother nature. Continue reading →
There’s one salad that my husband and kids can all agree on, and that’s my Avocado Greek Salad! It’s also a hit with guests at our summer barbecues, and all year-round. It’s very easy to make, and with the avocados, feta cheese, and olives, it’s a filling and delicious salad. Most people ask for the recipe after they’ve tasted it.
Greek Salad, like most foods these days, means different things to different people. There are so many variations at restaurants and in homes. Some Greek Salad is made with iceberg lettuce, others with romaine lettuce. The type of feta cheese used (sheep or cow) can make a difference in taste, as can the type of tomato (plum versus hot house versus beef steak or even cherry tomatoes).
And, the original Greek Salad is not likely what you’re having when you go to a Greek restaurant in North America. The traditional Greek Salad, called Horiatiki, is made with tomatoes, green peppers, red onions, and cucumbers – without any lettuce. It’s dressed with sliced feta, kalamata olives, salt, oregano, and the best olive oil and (sometimes) vinegar — this is what you’ll find served in most restaurants in Greece.
Although the traditional Greek Salad is delicious, my family likes it with the addition of romaine lettuce and a whole avocado. Yes, I said avocado! We all know the health benefits of avocados: they’re low in saturated fat, contain zero cholesterol, and are high in potassium. There’s also something about the avocado that lends a creaminess and dimension to the salad. Continue reading →
In the last month, I’ve visited with family in two very different parts of the world, and I wanted to share with you why I loved these two family visits. In early March, I went to Lebanon to visit my parents, brothers, and extended family, and, in late March, we went to the US to visit my husband’s family. Although these trips were in places far apart from each other, the reasons I enjoyed the visits are very similar.
As part of being mindful of how I spend my time, I really paid attention to the visits I had and why they were so important and meaningful. Visiting family seems like something you do because it’s associated with a certain holiday or milestone. Sometimes you feel like you need to make these visits out of obligation or expectations. Sometimes you love making the trips and taking the effort. And, sometimes, you’re just so darn grateful for the opportunities and savor each moment. The latter is how I felt in the last month.
Here are the 7 reasons I loved visiting with family recently. I hope they inspire you to plan more visits!
Reason 1: My family is a part of my history
This sounds so obvious, but it’s really deeper than having people who are related to you. I’m talking about the family resemblance, the common cultural background, a country’s understood traditions, and the feeling of connectedness. When you’re around your immediate and extended family, you see where some of your mannerisms and points of reference come from. For example, in Lebanon, we’re a bit of loud family. We yell from room to room or outside to someone in the garden. The neighbors pretty much know what we’re up to! In my family in particular, we are bitterly honest with each other and we tell it like it is. For spouses and in-laws, this may seem harsh at times, but it’s what we’re used to and how we grew up. It’s done lovingly, really. Engaging in this banter made me understand that growing up like this was normal for me, but that it might not seem so normal to my nuclear family of my husband and two teens, or for my in-laws. Continue reading →
This Banana Oat Muffins recipe is one of my new favorite recipes and I wanted to share it with you in time for the weekend.
I’ve been obsessed with oatmeal these days: steel cut oats for breakfast, dark chocolate oatmeal cookies, breakfast oatmeal cookies (recipe blogged here), and oatmeal waffles (recipe here)! There’s something filling about oats and the fiber content is a plus. So, I’m always on the lookout for all kinds of ways to enjoy oatmeal.
The other day I googled banana oat muffins and a few recipes came up. I spent time going through the recipe comments because I think that’s one of the best ways to know if the recipe works and how much people like it. Well, the Banana Oat Muffins recipe from Genius Kitchen had so many amazing reviews and comments, I just had to try it!
The best thing about these muffins is that they use about 5 bananas, or 2 cups. I always seem to have ripe bananas in the fruit bowl and this recipe put them to great use. Continue reading →
I’ve been meaning to post this Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Waffle recipe for some time now and, given that it’s National Waffle Day, why not?
Oatmeal is a food and fiber that I’ve always loved, be it in cookies, for breakfast, or in granola bars. Now I’m loving oatmeal in waffles. It also seems like waffles are all the rage these days, so I’ve probably been craving them subliminally. Have you seen the chicken and waffle recipes on Instagram and social media? What about waffle sandwiches at brunch? I admit to partaking in the latter.
When I was looking around for an oatmeal waffle recipe, I came across lots of them: gluten free, vegan, sugar-free. I tried many versions and tweaked the sugar levels. Interestingly, many used maple syrup, but I just stuck to regular sugar, to keep the batter thick. I played around with the fruit ingredients, sometimes using applesauce from a jar and sometimes increasing the fresh fruit content to where I didn’t include any applesauce.
The thing about this strawberry banana oatmeal waffle recipe is that it’s pretty forgiving. As long as it’s not too runny or too thick, a waffle iron can handle it! I also make it in a big glass measuring cup, which makes pouring it onto the waffle iron very easy. Continue reading →
If you like crumbles, or anything with oatmeal, sugar, and butter in it, then you’re going to love these Apple Crumble Cups that are easy and oh-so-presentable!
I’ve written two posts on crumbles (peach/strawberry and peach) in the past. If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a crisp, a crumble, and a cobbler, it’s that crumbles contain oatmeal. This recipe is from allrecipes.com and is originally called a crisp, but it’s technically a crumble!
The reason I wanted to share this recipe is because I’ve been searching for one that makes mini crumbles. I was served something like this at a friend’s house, and I loved how cute and compact it is. Yesterday I was talking to my mom about a recipe she had seen on TV, and it reminded me of all the uneaten apples sitting in our fruit basket. I had to make some type of crumble!
Here’s the recipe, as taken from Allrecipes, attributed to Debbie Eckstein. I’ve changed the name to call it ‘Apple Crumble Cups’ instead of ‘Apple Crisp Cups’. At the end, I’ve given tips on how I made my cups. Continue reading →