building new castles every day

Posts Tagged ‘home’

the morning light

In Sightings on December 8, 2011 at 10:17 AM

The morning light does wonders to my little old townhouse. It’s easy to get distracted while working at home, particularly in my small room full of the things I love. So instead of dwelling on all the fun I could be having instead of doing work, let me take you on a quick tour of the beauty I see in my illuminated surroundings.


we like to keep our towels colourful

toilet paper

flush handle

bathroom door knob

bathroom door lock

keeps the chihuahua out

shower wall

cracks give character

bedroom door handle



an alcove of shadows and cosmetics


pardon the lack of folding

give me blueberries!

In Eatings, Makings on August 4, 2010 at 9:00 AM

This weekend I visited my hometown, Vernon, British Columbia, and stayed with the family of my travel companion and best friend, Jennifer.

[What a stellar weekend. Really. Those few days in the Okanagan were exactly what I ordered after the last three/four weeks of long work hours. Oh, and my new iPhone sure was a handy toy for the occasion. But that’s another post.]

The morning after we arrived, Jen’s mom (and my former volleyball coach), Barb, sourced a muffin mix from Vernon’s Nature’s Fare in efforts to accommodate Jen’s gluten intolerance. Barb also made a batch of gluten-full lemon blueberry muffins — the same recipe I stole from her after I sampled their brilliance one teenage day before our daily walk to school.

Barb's gluten-free lemon blueberry muffins. Dunked in butter and sugar!

Though I drool over the wheat flour version, I have to say, Jen’s muffins appealed to me more. The texture of the brown rice–arrowroot–tapioca flour combo was delicious when smothered with butter. I apologized to Jen for gobbling a handful of her batch. But they were just so amazing!

Every morning we ate our full of those teeth-staining delights. Yet when I returned home Monday afternoon, I only craved more! So I stocked up on blueberries from the grocer and checked my cupboards for cornmeal — the most texture-adding ingredient I could think of that wouldn’t require a trip to an unknown health food store or the cost of my arm. (It’s ain’t cheap being a celiac.)

For this Martha Stewart recipe, I substituted the ‘expired’ milk in my fridge for the called buttermilk. I also used regular granulated sugar instead of the coarse ‘sanding’ sugar. I would recommend baking them a little less or perhaps turn the oven down a bit to 375 instead of 400. However, any smidgen of dryness can be countered with a good dollop of butter!

Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins

Makes 12

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk, plus about 2 tablespoons for tops
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries (about 1/2 pound), picked over and rinsed
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse sanding sugar (optional)
  • Nonstick cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in center. Lightly coat a standard muffin tin with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and orange zest, if using.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg yolks, and butter. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until just blended. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until just stiff. Gently fold whites and blueberries into the batter until just combined.
  3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each cup three-quarters full. Bake 12 minutes. Remove from oven; gently brush tops with buttermilk, and sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired. Continue baking until tops are golden and a cake tester inserted in a muffin center comes out clean, 6 to 8 minutes more. Let muffins cool slightly, about 10 minutes, before turning out of tin.

6 o’clock rise ain’t so bad

In I like on July 12, 2010 at 7:48 AM

Sitting out on my mini patio this past week during the welcomed Vantown heat, my wandering mind took me back to my childhood home in Vernon. That ‘great place to grow up, great place to leave’ place, where the heat is teamed with such dryness it sucks the breath from you. Where peak heat starts at 8:30 am and doesn’t relent until close to midnight (see my previous Okanagan Heat plug).

But the mornings on our deck were bliss. The perfect temperature. I would perch out there with my cereal bowl (a religious Corn Pops consumer) at 6 am, taking in the smell of cool grass meeting warming air. The birds chirped; I’d read. Our aptly named Sneakers cat would stalk through the grass, pouncing on a fly or munching a flower stalk; the Honey bunny would hide in the shade of the fence preparing for a day of cursing fur coats. The birds chirped, kids woke neighbours with their morning trampoline routine, and I would read. Well, read for about three minutes before getting distracted by everything!

And that’s exactly what happened, up here on my mini patio. Distracted by the world waking up.

an Okanagan wedding

In Doings on June 26, 2010 at 9:16 AM

Part 1 …

If there’s one thing I miss about my Okanagan hometown, it’s the summers. The dry heat that builds from 6:30 am and plateaus at 30°C by mid-morning, causing the working folks to hide in their air-conditioned offices and giving the unemployed youth an excuse to bake, half-naked, on wooden piers between dunks in the cool lake. Home owners attempt to keep their buildings cool with ceiling fans in every room and bamboo blinds over open windows. Bare legs stick to the car seat and hands cool down on slurpee cups before grabbing the steering wheel. Such relentless heat doesn’t even break at night.

But oh, what a treat it is to enjoy it for just a weekend. This past weekend, in fact. In Kelowna. For a wedding!

Heeeeey Tina!

We got to our hostel about two hours before the ceremony. (Yes, hostel — we planned to just crash into our beds after a solid evening of partying and didn’t fancy paying more than $25 each for bunkbeds). The converted house had a walk-up deck, lined with weathered sofas, colourful graffiti and flags of every possible nation. Upon the sofas lazed a smorgasbord of sun-baking youth. We could hear some pots and pans being knocked about inside while traffic streamed down the main road.

“Good luck with that,” wished my pa, sarcastically.

But Tina and I thought it great and took our bags through the kitchen to find the reception. We were greeted by two French hippies with nonchalant tans and a penchant for taking their time. While they set about changing the sheets in our private bunkbed room, I hit the shower.

Wash your laundry with mermaids at the Kelowna International Hostel.

The hostel felt like a big family home and I was pretty comfortable walking around with wet hair and barefeet, exploring the cheerful graffiti walls and mismatched living room. While I put on my black and white frock and threw on make up, I quietly dreamed about moving back to the Okanagan to become a hippie hostel manager.

Following directions.

Soon we were arriving at the golf club. And what a golf club it was! I don’t have much experience with golf, nor do I wish to, but if I did want to play a round and had money to blow, I’d come here. Situated on a working apple orchard, the grounds look out over Okanagan Lake. As we came up the drive, we saw a group of white chairs laid out on the lawn and two white pillars holding bunches of magenta and white Gerbera daisies. At last Courtenay’s year of detailed plans had come to life!

Tina had never been to a wedding and this was only my second, so we stepped giddily out of my dad’s car and went exploring. The hall, where we’d be do the reception thing later, was full of wood and sunlight, navy blue ribbons and shiny cutlery. We tiptoed throughout, snooping and prodding, smiling at the busy staff and wondering where the heck we were going to sit later. And more importantly, who were were going to sit with.

guest "cards" -- a scrapbooker's alternative

A basket of toiletries, including gum and a Tide to Go pen! Courtenay thinks of everything.

Dancing shoes?! The bride is a genius!

Cake alternative: chocolate puffed wheat squares (wrapped and waiting)

More to come on an Okanagan wedding…

old apartments

In I like on June 13, 2010 at 9:00 AM

My sister and her boyfriend are making the move from East Van to the Granville/Broadway neighbourhood.

I like the older, well-maintained apartment buildings of this area. The years of new paint jobs layered over wall wire casings. The aged grouting between ceramic tiles. The odd placing of power outlets.

I’m excited for Sam and their new place of carpetless floors, white walls, large windows and fireplace. So excited that I couldn’t help documenting my friend’s bachelor place at Hemlock and 12th.

cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon bark for homemade chai tea

glass cupboards

sneaky outlets

walk-up closet

bay windows and bench seats with storage (or bike parking)

hardwood floors and grandma’s trunk.

Mount Pleasant, Vancouver

In Sightings on June 11, 2010 at 12:13 PM

On mornings when the sun fills my apartment, I can hardly stay in bed.

I had been inspired by a recent post by Color Me Katie, so I took my camera out for a walk around my neighbourhood and saw…

a handmade reminder,

a Porta-tree,

yesterday’s thirst quencher,

a colourful wardrobe,

a Canadian address,

a fellow pedestrian,

a quiet warning,

residential geometry,

a weathered perch,

and a pimpled house!