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Rajasthani Notebooks

24 Nov

Travelling in Rajasthan, one of my favorite places, I discovered these leather-bound notebooks. They are crafted by hand by local artisans and are designed in Rajasthani tradition.

      

Camels, Elephants, Ganeshas, and Peacocks are intertwined and framed in intricate patterns. The notebooks are gorgeous to the touch, throwing you back to the times of the moguls.

   

Rustic camel leather has it’s own character, giving it an old-world-feel. You can imagine the stories that were written while travelling the deserts in another time.
       

This Blue Elephant sketchbook has thick stock paper perfect for sketching, planning, writing and scrapbooking. It is my Favorite thing. Just touching it I feel like I am touching ancient history.

     

Smaller notebooks for jotting lists, for kids play, and for doodling,  are cute and easy to travel with, fitting perfectly in your purse or bag.

You can get yours and buy these as one of a kind gifts for Christmas at www.sarikastyle.com . Enter ‘thingsilove’ as a promo code during check-out to receive a 20% discount off every book- valid until Dec 31st, 2011. Order before December 2nd for Christmas delivery.

The C.N.E!

5 Sep

The Classic Swings

The Canadian National Exhibition. A marker and memory maker for most of our childhoods. You know when it opens that summer’s end is near. Attending the very last day of the Ex, you go on every ride possible, eat as much cotton candy and candy apples that you can, begging your parents to play one more carnival game in the hope they can bag the big prize to take home. ‘Cause when it’s done, and that last ride comes to a stop, you know that summer is truly over and the next day you will have to drag your sleepy tired butt out of bed to go to the first day of school.

Once I became a young adult, I would still visit, as I worked nearby and there’s nothing better than letting off steam with a group of friends, having  a few drinks then enjoying the rides and trying our sloppy hands at the games. It was an adult fun of discovering different foods in the food building (back in the day when there was something from every country), and shopping in the international building that offered booths of handicrafts from all over the world.

Sometime after that, I didn’t go anymore. Through my late 20s and early thirties the appeal was gone, things were the same and held no fresh enticement. Then my niece became old enough to really enjoy the fairgrounds and now here I am again, back to looking forward to the CNE each year with anticipation, creating special memories between my niece and I. There are new attractions like the wave rider, a fast moving wave pool designed to challenge and teach you surfing skills. The old stalwarts are still there, carnies yelling out to come win with them, cotton candy, candy apples, human cannonballs, and of course those very same rides I myself rode as a kid, the Zipper, the Scrambler, the Waterlogger and my favourite the Polar Express. If I look closely I could swear they are the same carnies as well!! Now each year I see the wonder and fun in my niece’s eyes and know I am helping to create her own nostalgia for the place.

Today is the last day of the CNE. I won’t enjoy the fairgrounds but will go and see the air show that performs every last weekend of the CNE. I guess summer really is coming to a close and tomorrow I’ll have to wake up and drag my tired older butt to work!!!

Polar Express     

 

The Spritz! Summer’s great thirst quencher!!

28 Jul
 a bottle of Aperol

Image via Wikipedia

On my last trip to Limone, Italy in May, we discovered a fabulous summer drink that left us refreshed among the hot sweaty tourist crowds. Cafe after cafe we saw people with this orange tinged drink with ice. Asking a server what it was, we were told it’s a very popular drink called “Spritz”. My husband has always enjoyed a Campari or a Martini Rossi as his pre dinner drink, I myself found them to be a little too bitter for my taste buds. But we saw so many people enjoying this drink that I took the plunge and we finally had a couple of our own.

Yes it is a bitter drink, but not so strong in bitter taste that I couldn’t enjoy it. Instead of something sweet or a martini- which can get you down the drunk road much quicker than I want sometimes- this drink was crisp, refreshing, tasty and didn’t linger on the tongue in the summer heat and humidity. Instead it was like popping under a waterfall in the middle of a hot day while exploring Limone, giving us the gas to keep going the rest of the day.

After days drinking the Spritz, I found I could also enjoy a Campari soda! Maybe the Spritz acclimatized my tongue to enjoy a bitter splash? I highly recommend you visit your liquor store to see if they carry Aperol- the orange bitter liquor from Italy.

The recipe- 2oz Aperol, 2oz Prosecco, and a splash or more- your preference- of sparkling water

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An Aperol Spritz!

 

Moussakka, Lebanese Style!

5 Jun

I recently came back from a wonderful vacation to Amsterdam and Limone, Italy. After enjoying amazing Italian cuisine, the first thing I wanted to do when I got home was cook. My tastebuds were averse to anything processed, as we have so much of in the west. I needed to make sure that any food passing my lips would be fresh, tasty and healthy. The first dish I made is Lebanese style Moussakka. This is one of my favorites and I usually make it once a month for my hubby and I. It’s rich in texture, tasty with flavour and healthy, being made from vegetables and chick peas.  It tastes as yummy as it looks!!!

Recipe: 2 large eggplant, 2 med. cooking onions- diced, 10-12 garlic cloves- chunky diced, 1 large can chick peas, 2 med cans of tomatoes (I use San Marzano canned tomatoes from Italy), 2 tsp salt, 2.5 tsp of brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp allspice, 0.5 tsp fresh cracked black pepper, 400ml water, 8 tbsps olive oil, 1 lemon, fresh parsley or cilantro to garnish.

Set aside salt, cinnamon, allspice, pepper in small bowl. Cut eggplant into cubes, leaving skin on. Saute eggplant cubes until brown in oil in a deep saute pan. Set aside on papertowels to drain.

Add oil onion and garlic to pan, saute about 5 mins or until onions translucent. Add chick peas, stir for 5 mins. Add sugar, then eggplant. Stir. Add tomatoes, and spices, and half of the lemon. I also add some crushed red pepper to give it a little kick!! 🙂 Add water and bring to a boil, then lower temperature to simmer for 30 mins. In preheated oven (325F), place saute pan uncovered and let bake for up to 2 hours, until eggplant is tender and melted into moussakka. Mixture will turn a deep colour as in the photo above. If you prefer eggplant chunky, remove earlier. I love them almost melted and velvety. Garnish with cilantro and spritz with other half of the lemon.

It’s fabulous on rice, mashed potatoes or with your favorite breads!

Hipstamatic Camera app for iPhone

3 May

Lens: John S, Film: Ina's 1969, Flash: off

The Hipstamatic app for the iPhone is like having a mini digital Holga at your fingertips. Wth a cute little Holga looking avatar, you will fall in love again with the simple joy of taking snaps of everthing around you. Now I can fiddle with lenses and film to get that juuust right look. And the bonus – I’m not spending a fortune in film and developing with my actual Holga camera. I still love the original of course, but this app is the best shortcut. Available at the app store on sale for the steal of $1.99.

Bella's Birthday! lens: JohnS, Film: Ina's 1969

Sasha and Harley Lens: JohnS Film: Kodot XGrizzled

Kiva – where your dollars keep on giving!!!

17 Apr
Image representing Kiva as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Do you wish to donate to charities and help make a difference to someone in this world but are unsure of how your funds are being used and even if anything good really ever comes out of your donation? Here is something very different!!

Through Kiva.org you can make micro LOANS to small business people in impoverished nations and in very difficult situations. These people are not asking for a handout and are not relying on a steady flow of charity. Instead they set up a small business, be it buying a cell phone and charging the village per call for use, or buying a goat and selling it’s milk, eventually making enough to buy a second goat and so on and so on. This is a great chance for you to really HELP someone get their small business off the ground, help them care for themselves and their families and restore their dignity. I think this is one of the better and more innovative ways to help people escape the shackles of poverty that continue for generations.

It is a loan and it’s usually for small amounts like 25 dollars. With that money they will use it to get their business going and will pay you back within an allotted time. Then you can turn it around and loan it out to someone else. Think of how many more people you can seriously and directly help with 100 dollars. It all plays forward. We were just lucky to be born where we are, never forget that. So give a loan when you can and help someone make a life for their families for generations to come!

Cake Pops!! from cakeimake.com

7 Apr

Cake Pops from cakeimake.com

The minute I saw these scrumptious little cakes I wanted to bite them. Designed and created by Roula of cakeimake.com (she also has a facebook page) these cake pops are a hit at any party. I had my niece Bella design her colours and flavours for her 10th birthday party, (round multicoloured ones pictured in a basket in first photo above) and the kids and parents absolutely went nuts for them!! So cute and pretty!!

You can work with Roula to make any shape, colours and design details for your pops. I love the little butterfly details shown here. Cakes are available in many flavours, including one Roula created of vanilla, strawberry and a bit of chocolate all in one. Personally I LOOOVE the red velvet! They come in a basket, or jar, or you can get the ice cream cones (the whole ice cream in a waffle cone is a cake), in a box. So creative and unique they make great gifts and are great for parties, showers, and special occasions.

I have already planned to surprise a friend on his birthday with a basket and I’m going to get a dozen for home, as my husband loves them too. Young or old, they are delightful and yummy!!! What other occasions can I come up with to get some more????  😉

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