Beet-dyed devilled eggs

IMG_7997 (1)If you’re celebrating Easter this weekend, I hope it’s a good one!
As an easy appetizer that’s always a crowd-pleaser, I made some devilled eggs. I dyed them in beet juice to add some extra colour to the dish. I love the result!
There are many ways to do this, and I feel like they all work. I boiled a pot of beets the day before, removed the beets and saved the pink water.  Once my eggs were hard-boiled and peeled, I just put them in the pot of pink water (made sure they were covered) and added 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar to it. About an hour later, the dye had sunk in. Perfect for Easter, but I think I’d make this at any point during the year for a potluck or a dinner.


Lessons in Confidence

I decided to draw Iris Apfel after seeing the documentary “Iris” (on Netflix). Have you seen it? It was directed by Albert Maysles, who made Grey Gardens. Love this lady and her DGAF attitude, whether it’s regarding her sense of style, beauty standards, or other people’s expectations of her. That level of confidence is something many of us aspire to have, and it almost feels a little contagious as you watch her go about her day. I was often told that confidence comes with experience, but lately I’ve been thinking  that it’s something you have to fake or imitate until it becomes a true part of yourself. Maybe I’ll try that. Let’s pretend to be Iris for a day.

While I’m at it, here are some podcasts featuring a few other queens:

Potluck Planning

Do you have any go-to recipes or crowd pleasing dishes for big dinners? I often try something new at the last minute, which usually involves some unexpected little disasters along the way. Nevertheless, here is what I’m planning on making over the next few weeks:Perencake2Pear cardamom cake [via]

Caramel pecan tart [via] or [via]

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 11.24.56 PMLamb chops with garlic [via]

MTM0NTE3OTc2NTQ3MjM1MDkwRoasted sweet potato, beets, fennel and pear with cinnamon dressing [via]

Holiday Dresses under $100

dresses5When it comes to dressing for the holidays, I’ve definitely grown out of sparkly metallic fabrics that have little wearability once all the festivities are over. These days I’m drawn to unique shapes, quality materials and styles that can be worn again and again when special occasions come up. Here are a few picks that range from casual to fancy, all while keeping the pricetag under $100.
[Above image: Left: plaid swing dress, Asos. Right, Gap cable knit sweater dress that makes me want to cozy up next to the fire after having eaten too much.]dresses2Above: Keep it girly and sweet with floral details.
Left: teal lace, Zara.
Right: embroidered velvet, Zara.

dresses4Throw a blazer on and they’re work-appropriate. Both available in plus sizes.
Left: striped boat neck cotton dress, Gap.
Right: Wrap dress, Asos.

dresses1Show off that body all while keeping it classy.
Left: Asymmetrical dress with double hem, H&M (also available in forest green.)
 Right: jersey body-con dress, Wilfred Free from Aritzia.

dresses3Minimalist details make a great impact.
Left: black dress with mesh neckline trim, Babaton from Aritzia.
Right: long sheer crepe dress, Zara.

Fall Cookbooks for Everyone

I love cookbooks. As much as I use the internet as my main resource for recipes, I love the feel of a solid good cookbook. I read them like bed time stories, pausing to look at beautiful photographs and fantasizing about recreating dishes in my own kitchen. Clearly I can’t be the only one, because there have been tons of new release in the last little while. Here’s a round-up of the ones that have caught my eye.

1. The Art of Eating Well: Hemsley and Hemsley: By now we all get that eating healthy is a lifestyle approach. What better way to encourage that than delicious, accessible meals?
2. Plenty More by Yottam Ottolenghi: I’m always looking for new interesting ways to make vegetables. Now I just wish I had a fresh herb garden year round.
3.  Cairo Kitchen by Suzanne Zeidi: My love for Middle Eastern food holds no bounds, and it’s about time I learn how to make some of my favorite meals.
4. Three Times a Day by Marilou and Alexandre Champagne: a.k.a “Trois Fois par Jour”, this local Montreal duo has created quite a buzz in the last year. With new recipes that are not featured on their blog, as well as some favorites like buttered chicken,
5. A Modern Way to Cook by Anna Jones: Packed with vegetarian recipes that can be made in under 30 minutes. Ideal for the real world where you just give in after a long day of work and throw a frozen pizza in the oven.
6. Audrey at Home: Memories from my Mother’s Kitchen by Luca Dotti: Both a scrapbook of Audrey Hepburn’s life and a cookbook, nostalgia-lovers can fully indulge in the vintage photographs, anecdotes and foods from another time.
7. Baking from Food52: Because sometimes, after all that healthy eating, I just want to make something entirely out of sugar and flour. This go-to site compiled a book of classic baked recipes (like banana bread) to mind-blowing new desserts (like black sesame cupcakes with matcha icing!!!!!)
8. Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food by Nigella Lawson: are you noticing a trend here? Cooks offering recipes that are less complex, more accessible? Well last but not least, Nigella is on board, offering meals that can easily be made during your workweek. Butternut and halloumi burgers? I’m totally down.

Anything I missed? What are your favorite cookbooks?


IMG_7504A few months ago, I attended an event at Centrale Culinaire, and couldn’t take my eyes off the incredibly simple-yet-striking buntings that hung across the room. I decided to steal the idea and recreate them in my own home. I’ve always loved old books and how they draw in all the senses- the faded yellow pages, that sweet vanilla-tobacco scent, the feel of the paper wearing thin… so using them as decor was really appealing to me. Tearing pages out of a book might seem sacrilegious to some, but rest assured, I found this book in the trash and I’m pretty sure no one was really dying to read it anyway (sorry to all the Emile Zola fans out there!).
IMG_7589The materials needed are pretty basic: old book, string, craft glue. The process is super easy and you’ll have a cool wall decoration in no time!


I tried it out on both our grey bedroom wall and my pink office/boudoir/studio. Which do you prefer?

IMG_7554IMG_7608PS: can someone in the candle industry please make a candle that smells like old books? Or is that gross? Think about it: Dyptique, Vieux Livres.

Barcelona Travel Guide

Little Kokomo goes to Barcelona.
I went to Barcelona in 2012 and had such an amazing time, I can easily say it’s one of my favourite cities I’ve traveled to. Since then, friends have been asking me for tips on things to see or do, so I decided to make a post about it, complete with pictures from my trip that leave me very nostalgic.

First, a bit of advice:
Language: try to brush up on your Spanish. Although many people are quatrolingual, some of them only speak Catalan and a little Latin American Spanish. The menus in restaurants are often only in Latin American Spanish and Catalan, and the waiter might not be able to translate it for you. Also, the locals will respect your effort and will often be more friendly. Surprisingly, our knowledge of French came in handy more than once as well since there are a lot of foreign workers.

The Lonely Planet Barcelona guide was super helpful for us, especially for the maps (streets can be confusing). There’s even a phrase book and translation of all the popular food items. Be sure to get the latest version since the recession hit the city pretty hard and many places have had to close.

-There is a tourist info center that you can go to for any information, they were friendly and helpful. You can also go to them to book tours or day trips you might want to do.
-If you want to book a day trip, do it as early as possible because they can get full (Dali museum, Cava tours, Mount Tibidabo, lots to do..).
-Same goes for a soccer match
Bull fighting no longer happens because the animal cruelty people got involved and banned that shit.
-If you want to go to Madrid for a day, the train gets you there in 3 hours.
-make sure there are no strikes or protests happening with the transit companies if you do want to go somewhere
-Try to plan your day around a certain neighborhood so you don’t tire yourself out. You can technically walk everywhere, but a metro pass is usually worth it if you are trying to cram in a lot of sightseeing.

Little Kokomo goes to Barcelona.
Impressive street art is everywhere

Vila de Gracia was the loveliest neighborhood we saw, and if you get the chance, try to stay there. It’s like the plateau/mile-end equivalent (for montrealers) and little parades and music shows happen in the streets daily. It also has a ton of cute bars if you want to go bar hopping or dancing. And it generally felt safe, not as touristy as the more downtown areas. The metros near it were Paseig de Gracia and Fontana. We stayed at an airbnb with a rooftop terrace, from which we could see the Sagrada Familia. It was a great location and I would stay in that area again.

-Check out Parc Guell and take pictures in all the famous spots. The Gaudi stuff too, but you already knew that.

Little Kokomo goes to Barcelona.
Parc Guell
barcelona travel guide
Gaudi up above

– Walk along the ramblas. Ramblas are like Montreal’s St-Laurent street sale X 10000. There are 3 of them and they all lead down to the beach area.

barcelona travel guide
Ramblas street view
Little Kokomo goes to Barcelona.
Ramblas view from the museum of erotica

– Our favorite beach was the gay beach closer to the east edge (I think it was called Barceloneta). It was less crowded and generally felt safe. Be sure to not bring any valuables, and keep change for metro fare.
– The beach has many bars all along it, which provide a nice break from the sand. Despite the fact that they look like tourist traps, the prices weren’t as high as we expected. If you go to a beach bar, be sure to order a drink called Clara, a lovely combination of beer and lemonade. You can also bring your booze to the beach, and I recommend finding a convenience store and getting a canned drink called Damm Lemon (which is like a canned Clara).

Little Kokomo goes to Barcelona.
Mediterranean Beach times, so close to the busy city
J is scared of heights but still enjoyed the teleferic

-A nice cheap thing to do is to go up Mont Juic (pronounced Mont Jew, no joke). You can take the teleferic and see the view of the whole city. There’s also some castle/military building to see for free up there. You can walk down back to the city, it’s a pretty beautiful walk through the mountain.

Little Kokomo goes to Barcelona.
Old castle structure on Mont Juic (Spot the Josh)

-If you like champagne, try Cava, the Spanish equivalent. It’s usually quite cheap to order in bars and if you really like it you can take a day trip to one of the vineyards (Cava Tours).

-If you are planning a night at home, you can get a decent bottle of red wine from the grocery stores for 4 euros.

-Get TAPAS for dinner! My favorite place was Catalana, which you have to try. The address is 236 Mallorca, but go early ’cause there can be an insane lineup later in the evening. Split a few dishes amongst each other and try a local beer.

-When you don’t know what to order, you can’t go wrong with jamon (sorry, vegetarians). The cured meats there are delicious. Also, patatas fritas, and seafood if you’re into that. If you like what the stranger sitting next to you is having, ask the waiter for “lo mismo” and point to it. (It just means “the same”).

-Go to a Gelateria, any place that sells gelato. Nutella gelato, enough said.

**Pickpockets are a big problem in this city; on our first day we witnessed a guy steal someone’s bag and ride off on his bike. So have a messenger bag you can keep in sight, one that can’t be opened too easily. Wear one of those gross money belt things if you need to carry your passport, even if just for peace of mind.

It was really hard to condense this to a short list, but I hope you have as great of a time as we did!

Spring Positivity

Magnolia tree from my trip to DC a few years back

It’s been a pretty rough week and I’ve been trying to figure out how to approach this subject, which led me to just avoid my computer altogether. During my most recent medical visit, my doctor told me that my chances of having thyroid cancer are between 15-38%. While these odds are still in my favor, I was hoping to hear “Don’t worry, it’s benign, you can go back to living your life now!” But I need to start considering surgery, continue undergoing several tests, chasing down doctors, calling departments that never answer, and living with agonizing uncertainty.

In an effort to keep a positive perspective, I’m going to try very hard to enjoy my life and make future plans despite all the anxiety. It’s spring, my favorite season, that time of year that is full of hope and optimism for what is to come. Here are some of the little things that cheered me up this week:

avocado toast
Avocados are in season, which means I get to enjoy my favourite snack: avocado on toast
My work being featured on Montreal’s new blog
Flowers from Jean-Talon market, blue mason jars used as vases

Have a beautiful week, everyone.

Step 1: Be healthy (or do what you can)

While I wanted to start this blog off with some fun, happy-go-lucky, girly daydream posts, this past week I ran into a medical issue that distracted me from all that fluffy stuff. An ultrasound found that I have some “abnormalities” in my thyroid, which will be further diagnosed with an upcoming biopsy. I’m a bit freaked out, and I have my reasons (both my parents have been affected by cancer). Loss of control over a situation can lead to feelings of anxiety and worry. I’m in that strange place where I’m trying to not think about it, and trying to find a sense of what I can control.

In attempt to find that balance, I’m trying to build and maintain some healthy habits. Here are a few:

Go for a walk everyday. While this is not a big deal in many parts of the world, it’s been something like -30 degrees Celsius in Montreal for the past 2 months now. It can be really discouraging when I look outside and see blowing snow and a bleak grey sky everyday. But I just have to get in my parka and do it. I normally love walking, and find they do great things for me mentally and physically.

Have a green drink at least 3 times a week. I know they’re overdone on all the blogs and have become somewhat cliché. The truth is, leafy greens make my skin feel amazing (I have a bit of rosacea, and my skin is super dry and itchy, especially with all that indoor heat blasting constantly). While eating salads is also great, from what I’ve researched, the benefits of leafy greens are much better absorbed when pulverized into tiny bits. Plus, B vitamins are great for a number of other things, including strengthening the body’s response to stress.

Try to have some seaweed daily. One of the times I felt at my best (in terms of energy, alertness, overall wellbeing) was when I was consuming about a tablespoon of Spirulina or Chlorella powder almost everyday for about 2 months straight, usually in a drink or smoothie. I’m not gonna lie, they taste like the bottom of a murky pond, and I’m still looking for a way to improve that aspect. I’ve also been treating myself to delicious wakame salads and adding dulse leaves into my soups on the days where I can’t stomach drinking the mossy-colored sludge.

Include chia seeds and ground flax seeds in my diet. Omega 3s are still all the rage, and whether it’s all psychosomatic or true, I feel I am able to think more clearly when I consume foods with Omega 3s. Especially lately with this never-ending winter, brain fog can really get me down. I have taken fish oil supplements in the past, but I like that chia and flax are plant-based.

Continue practicing yoga consistently. I currently attend a class about 3 times a week, at a hot yoga studio nearby. While it’s hard to find the motivation to go each time, (peeling myself off the couch, getting my stuff ready, making my way there in the cold, putting my body in uncomfortable positions and sweating all over the place, ruining my good hair days, etc.), I find my mood much more positive after every class.

Go easy on myself. If I’ve had a busy week and only managed to fit in one green drink, that’s ok. The same goes for exercise: If I can’t make it out for a 45 minute walk, I try and just do 10 minutes. Life’s too short to feel guilty about everything, do what you can!

First post, not my first blog

Hi – I’ve recently been laid-off from my job in education and I’m starting this blog to explore all the things I love a little deeper. While losing my job has been pretty stressful, I am looking at it as a blessing and a chance to learn about myself and my creative potential.

Whenever I stepped into a classroom or an office (or almost any space for that matter), I always found myself more focused on how I’d like to re-design and decorate that space to make it a more pleasant environment. The same goes with textbooks and printed documents: wouldn’t students want to use them more if they looked more appealing? I can’t count the times where my boss would be like, “So, what do you think about the latest procedures we just talked about?” and I’d be all “Um, yeah, sounds good to me” because the whole time I was thinking about what colour paint would look best with the lighting in this room! or some other completely unrelated detail.  Then I realized that I have been thinking about these things everywhere I’ve worked: hospitals, vintage stores, even fast food restaurants. After years of flighting it, I realized I love indulging in these distractions, and this started to tell me something.

So here goes. I’ve made a place for  those “distractions” and this is it. The list is not short, so I hope some of the things that inspire me can inspire you, too!