Tag Archives: picnics

A Day at the Beach

A Day at the Beach by Samantha French

Yesterday we headed to the beach on Toronto Island. It was a beautiful day with sandy kiddos,  a casual picnic and lots of sunshine. A few hours at the beach was just what I needed to clear my head and brighten my outlook, so today I thought I would dedicate a post to all things fun and beachy. With any luck you’re headed to a sandy shoreline of your own this weekend. Happy Friday Everyone!

Fire Island Beach House by Alexandra Angle Interior Design

Who doesn’t dream about a house on the beach? This home in Fire Island is everything a beach house should be, colourful, full of light with incredible views from every room. Below is a picture of the exterior, but for even more glimpses of the inside of this gorgeous home you can go here.

Fire Island Beach House by Alexandra Angle Interior Design

Deck Chair from Gallant & Jones

I can’t imagine a better place for lounging and watching the tide come in than one of these teak and fabric deck chairs from Gallant & Jones. It comes in a number of different fabric options, but I’m especially fond of this blue and orange striped pattern. All it needs is a nice big beach umbrella.

This luxe beach umbrella is from Basil Bangs. The black fringe is a sexy touch (never thought I’d be saying that about a beach umbrella). It reminds me of an old boudoir lamp. This umbrella would be just the thing for a glamorous beach house, don’t you think?

Wayne Pate Brighton Tote Bag

Loving the vintage style illustration on this beachy tote by Wayne Pate. What a great tote for carrying your towels, books and other beach day supplies.  This image also comes in a print so you can hang it on your wall.

Sand Art by Jim Deneven

Jim Deneven creates large scale artwork in the sand of beaches all over the world. All of the images on his site are fantastic, but the ones of him creating his giant sand works of art are my favourite. This tonal geometric pattern is captivating, and it’s interesting to see how the rising tide slowly eats away at the design.

Gulp by Sumo Science found via Make

Have you seen this incredible animated short from Sumo Science. It’s large scale stop-motion that uses the sand and waves of the ocean. It’s the whimsical story of a fisherman who escapes being swallowed by a fish. To truly appreciate the amount of work that went into this video I highly recommend watching the making-of which you can find here. Incredible!

Posted in Culture, Travel | Tagged , , , ,

How to not go hungry during your kitchen reno

image via Design Sponge. BBQ-ing is a great way to get you through a kitchen reno if the weather's on your side. Click on the photo for a delicious and deliciously easy portobello and peach burger recipe!

Are you planning for your dream kitchen?  Have you saved your pennies for this big investment in your biggest investment? It’s a fact that with any renovation, especially a sizable one, timelines can easily extend and budgets are stretched to the max.  That’s why it’s so important to consider how you and your family will eat well and on a budget without the, uh, kitchen.

Here are a few tips to stay healthy and stuffed:

Plan ahead
The best advice I got when preparing for the arrival of our little one was to cook and cook lots and freeze it all for those first hectic, sleepless, joyous months.   If felt so good to have a wholesome and hearty meal only a few minutes away by microwave or stovetop.  I made several litres of four kinds of soup, lentil-walnut burgers, veggie chili, chicken pot pies and it really only took a couple of weekends of work.  The payoff is so worth it. This advice works just as well for a kitchen reno too – a great way to not blow your budget on crappy take-out or less than special restaurant excursions.

Set up a mini kitchen elsewhere

via 7th House on the Left, this is pic of the makeshift kitchen set up during Ashley Brown and her husband's recent renovation

  • Warning: You may never move your coffee maker out of the bedroom once it enters, but enjoy this caffeinated perk during your kitchen renovation.
  • The dining room is a great spot to set up a hotplate, toaster oven and microwave.  The table itself can be used as prep room.  Do yourself the favour of being organized though, diligently cleaning as you prep meals and getting dirty dishes done after eating because it’ll quickly feel like chaos if you don’t. If possible set up a shelf of dishes, editing your flatware choices to the bare minimum to keep clutter contained.

We haven’t renovated our kitchen but we did have our kitchen roof collapse in the dead of winter once. All tolled we were without a kitchen for a month as we patched and painted and waited for the new roof. But we still had lovely breakfasts of waffles and cappuccinos thanks to our waffle iron and espresso machine. Soups and stews were easy with the hotplate too.

  • You’ll also need a place to wash up, which most likely means the bathroom sink or tub.
  • Hopefully you’ll still have access to your fridge, if not invest in a bar fridge and stand alone freezer which can be set up elsewhere, however awkward.

Focus on one-pot meals and foods that only get better with time
In the cooler months a chili or hearty stew can be made in one pot and will keep for a few days.  If it’s summer pasta, bean, or couscous salads really only improve with a day or two of marinating (just add your favourite sandwich for a full meal).  Making large batches of these will make for quick and easy meals for at least a couple of days.


image via Big Girl Small Kitchen. Click the pic for the barbecue lentil recipe. While the name is a bit of a misnomer - she doesn't use the BBQ - it'd be quite easy to do so. Simply cook your lentils using a hotplate and finish the recipe using a cast iron pan on the barbe!

If the weather is on your side and you’ve got a garden or patio, the barbeque will be your best friend.  Get adventurous, you’re really not limited to hot dogs and burgers!  My favs this summer have been roasted veggies and lemon garlic shrimp.  Plus you can put your cast iron grills and pans directly on the barbeque to really expand your culinary options.

Black and Blum have created this Hot Pot Barbeque. It looks like a terracotta planter, perfect for your herbs, but lift off the top to reveal a small charcoal grill with a heat insulating ceramic coating. Great for small outdoor spaces like a tiny balcony and super attractive planter when not in use!

Accept friendly neighbours’ offerings
If friends and neighbours offer to bring you food or have the family over for dinner, for the love of a decent meal, say yes!  You can repay this remarkable kindness in full with a gourmet dinner in your brand new kitchen a few weeks hence.

Community dinners and picnics

Locally grown produce and artisanal meats, cheeses, breads and preserves as far as the eye can see at our local farmer's market. Also prepared meals served on real plates with cutlery, perfect if you're feeling nostalgic for a proper meal. Hit up your local farmer's market for the community vibe and tasty offerings.

Toronto is a great city for parks as I assume many urban centres are.  Many of our city’s parks and parkettes also have a strong community contingent that informally evolved out of a sense of camaraderie and pride for one’s neighbourhood and public spaces.  I can think of at least two west-end parks that host weekly community dinners offering healthy meals for the whole family.  Countless others host farmer’s markets one day per week.  So if you’re looking for a quick and easy dinner and don’t have a kitchen, wander over to one of these spots and dine with your neighbours for less than take out.  Or just pick up some healthy offerings at the farmer’s market for a quiet little picnic.

These markets are a really great place to introduce kids to our food system. Not to mention there’s lots of entertainment just for them: Homegrown talent, Chris Patterson has a fun kids' album out called Small Potatoes and he was out wowing crowds with his songs about new siblings and smelly belly buttons.

Take out and delivery
Of course this might be what you end up doing more often than you’d like but hopefully the ideas above mean it won’t have to be an everyday thing.  Do your research beforehand too and find out which of your favourite healthy haunts deliver so at least it won’t be fast food every night!  And now’s a great time to try various international cuisines: Thai and Indian curries, affordable falafels and west-Indian roti, handmade pierogi and cabbage rolls – make it a theme night where the family travels the globe one night a week for dinner.

Bon appetit!  My fingers are crossed your reno goes smoothly and you’re soon cooking up a storm in your dreamiest of dream kitchens!

Perfect Picnic Potluck

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

It’s the time of year for impromptu picnics and BBQs.  Wondering what to bring to the next potluck shindig?  Try one of these delicious recipes!

3 Bean Salad

This is hardy and tasty, pretty and healthy. You can mix it up in less than 15 minutes and it only gets better as it sits.  Plus as a side dish goes it’s pretty versatile, going well with a burger or egg sandwhich.  Who could ask for more?


3 cans of beans – I usually use red kidney beans, chick peas, and romano beans

1 small purple onion minced

1 yellow and 1 orange pepper, diced

1/3 cup minced parsley

Salt and pepper to taste


¼ cup each olive oil, sugar, apple cider vinegar (I typically use less sugar, so be sure to taste as you go).  Stir vigorously till emulsified.

Mix all ingredients together.  Best to chill for a couple hours before serving as the falvours really intensify.  Serves 10.

Mixed Berry Fruit Salad

If there was a food that epitomized summer for me it’s a bowl full of berries.  My mum always says they look like sparkling jewels.  And how wonderful that these beautiful and delicious berries are possibly the healthiest foods on earth (especially organically grown ones)?  Ice cream, whipped cream or a rich chocolate something also pair stupendously.  But really the berries will be enough, you’ll see.

1 lb strawberries, halved

1 pint raspberries

1 pint blueberries

1 pint blackberries

1 sliced mango and/or a three sliced kiwis are optional but add beautiful colour and flavour too.

Wash and pick over berries, discarding any that are bruised or off.  Mix together in a large salad bowl with a generous sprinkle of sugar (1-2 tablespoons).  If possible chill until serving.  Serves 6 as berries alone, more if you’re serving ice cream or brownies with them too!

Tuna Nicoise Sandwich

Okay tuna nicoise is a bit of a loose term here, but this is sure how to fancy up the lowly tuna sandwich.  Make sure to use a nice crusty bread – a third of a baguette makes a perfect sandwich.

Ha! Local bakery didn't have my baguettes today. No matter a nice multigrain works too


2 baguettes

3 cans of tuna packed in water, well drained

3 stalks of celery, washed and finely minced

1/3 cup minced fresh chives

1/3 cup mayonnaise or to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Top with:

Sliced boiled egg (this recipe serves 6)

Any combination of Boston lettuce, pea shoots, cucumber, tomato

Mix tuna salad, top with egg and other fixings.  My preference is always to prepare tuna salad and sliced sandwich toppings in advance but have folks assemble their own sandwich.  (I for one hate soggy bread and these tend to fall apart given how jam-packed they are.) Makes 6 sandwiches.

Bon Appetit!

Picnic Perfect Frocks

Ruche Lookbook

Happy Friday everyone! What do you have planned for the weekend? Brunch with the family, flea-market trip, an ice-cream date or maybe a lazy afternoon picnic? Whatever the occasion these five frocks will have you covered. So get ready to show a little leg and get ready for summer in these fun picnic perfect dresses.

Emerson Made

I would wear pretty much every article of clothing in Emerson Made’s spring/summer line, but this seersucker dress with brass buttons is at the top of my want list. Light, simple, and great for either running afternoon errands or going to a party.


Planning on doing some post picnic butterfly spotting? This dress will lure them your way. What a great print, and the cut has just the right amount of vintage allure while not looking too girlish. If you’re looking for a dress to wear to an outdoor event this frock would be a fabulous choice, and attention getting.


A simple white dress is a summer staple and this one by Mango looks like it could be easily dressed up or down with flats or heels. This dress is classic and just short enough to be a little daring.  The eyelet trim is a sweet touch and this style would look great on a number of different body types.

Shop Mamie

What’s a picnic without a little bit of plaid? Shirt dresses are the best thing to throw on for an effortless put-together look. Shop Mamie is a relatively new online boutique founded by two best friends with a great eye for fashion. Their store is fully stocked with trendy and affordable designer pieces, perfect for summer.

Supermarket Sarah

One of the things I appreciate about summer fashion is how it takes dressing back to basics.  We all start gravitating towards clothes that are colourful, comfortable and flirty and this dress by designer Vania Scharbach is all that and more.  If you haven’t been to Supermarket Sarah, you really should check it out. Not only will you find this gorgeous frock, but you can also browse cool vintage housewares, accessories and artwork; it’s kind of like shopping from an ultra-hip magazine spread.

Have a great weekend everyone! Here’s hoping for some picnic weather.

Posted in Culture, Fashion | Tagged ,

Perfect Picnics – The Gear

Whether it’s just me and the babe (big ‘un or little ‘un) or a huge gathering, I love packing up and heading to the park or beach for a picnic.  There’s something totally carefree about a picnic, something that just epitomizes summer: laying out in the sun, enjoying some good food, picking shapes out of the clouds and watching the world go by.  It’s also something you can do on a moment’s notice and it isn’t likely to break the bank.  Here are a few cool finds to add an extra level of comfort and decadence to your picnic while respecting mama earth.

The Blanket

Last summer our son was just learning to sit and crawl on his own.  I found this blanket by Tuffo at an independent toy store in Toronto and it got a lot of use.  Water resistant, durable, light weight with a convenient and compact carrying system (which also does double duty by carrying small toys, diapers, and the like) we took this out almost daily and plan to again this season.

The Cutlery and Baskets

A huge part of the enjoyment of outdoor dining, especially for us city-dwellers, is taking in nature.  So it totally sucks that picnics often mean disposable napkins, cutlery and dining ware.  But there are a number of wonderful sustainable options on the market today like these:

Etsy shop, N Star Studio, sells these lovely Urban Picnic Roll-Ups.  Bamboo cutlery and  napkins for two all packaged in a pretty cotton carrying case that will tuck neatly into any bag.

Made of melamine, these stylish picnic bento boxes from Plastica will safely carry multiple dishes to and from your picnic site without messy spills.

Would it surprise you to learn that these pretty petal plates are made of bamboo?  A sustainable material that’s super durable and very light these would add an extra dash of sunshine to your dining, inside or out.

While I love vintage picnic baskets, these days on foot with a toddler they’re sadly less practical than I’d like.  So that’s why I love the picnic backback.  Because it shouldn’t be a drag getting to and from your picnic, these lightweight carry-alls are insulated to keep food and drink cool and carry all the necessary accoutrements like corkscrew, cutting board, and cheese knife.  This one from Lee Valley holds a place setting for 4!