Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Spread the Love!

It's Valentine's Day!

However your day has been, as you tuck yourself in tonight, try to take a moment to reflect on the moments that make your heart beat with purpose.  Love is so broad, that for every person, each heartbeat will reveal a different love story.  It could be something as fleeting as a first kiss or as deep as a 70 year partnership; maybe that fleeting kiss lasted 70 years! 
It could simply be the love you have for your family and friends, or your pets, food, home or nature.  Whatever it is, you deserve a moment to rekindle.

For my part, I got to spend last night making valentine's treats with my son, for his classmates.  He's in grade one, so with every holiday comes that crazy, over the top, excitement, the kind of energy I'd like to bottle and store.  Here's what we did, so you can do it now, or plan it for another day.  It's simple, and an easy treat idea!

Strawberry CheeseCake Bits and Bites
Cream Cheese
Icing Sugar

First off, we were lucky enough to find two for one strawberries at the grocery store.  When we got home, I cut the tops off the good ones, and by good I mean large enough for a healthy bite, and put them in a strainer.  Then we, (I should say he) scrubbed and washed them in cold water.  While he was washing, I was whipping up a mixture of cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla, to a beautiful, fluffy texture and to taste like cheesecake.  This will totally be to your taste, but proportionally, about 4x as much cream cheese to icing sugar, and about 1 tsp of vanilla.  After the rinse, I cut a circle out of the flat part, with a paring knife, making a small hole in the middle.   While I was cutting (and eating the centres!), he crushed two graham crackers in a mortar and pestle, which he loves doing, right down to a fine set of crumbs.  Then we stuffed one strawberry with the cheese mixture and sprinkled (or you can dab it) the graham crackers on top.  Test.  Repeat. Test.  Oh, yeah, then we made 22 for his school mates. Luckily we had just enough strawberries left!.

Mmmmmmm.  Love in a cheesy bite!

:: Insight, RB Studio

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Scrumptous!

One of my favorite foods in the whole wide world is avacado.  It is a super food, and it is my super food.  There is that moment of perfect ripeness where I can just eat it right out of the skin, buttery and delicious.  It can be as simple as that, or mash it up with a teeny bit of sour cream and scoop it with blue corn chips for a midnight snack.  I always put avacado in burritos, sushi and sandwiches, as long as I have some around.  Recently, I found this great picture online for a grilled avacado sandwich, and while I tweaked the ingredients, the premise was the same.  I think the type of bread is super important, so in my version, I had baked some cuban bread the day before, so I sliced a few pieces of it and buttered the outsides.  

Then I placed one, butter side down, on a warm fry pan.  The fun part, building my sandwich...cheese first, use anything that's tasty, but quick melters are probably best.  I've used gouda, mozarella, and marbled cheddar.  Then a thin slice of salami, topped with ripe avacado and another thin layer of cheese.  On top goes the second slice of bread, butter side up.  With flipper in hand, pay attention to the grill, cause it warms the sandwich quickly on medium heat.  Once the bottom starts to sear, and you can smell it, flip it.  

Be careful not to lose your contents!  Give it another few minutes on the other side, and again, do not leave your sandwich for any length of time.  Any small distraction and you will have a burnt sandwich; in my case, I will still eat it, but it's not as pleasant as the perfectly grilled alternative.   Here I complimented it with some split pea soup that I had made earlier in the week.  Talk about comfort food ... heavenly.!

Insight :: RB Studio

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fresh Paint!

It's the time of year, as the cold penetrates our bones, where most families seek a warmer climate.  I know alot of friends have been lucky enough to spend some of January or February travelling to all sorts of beaches, the warm, scenic and southern ones.  While your family is travelling, are you ever worried about leaving your house vacant?  Do you hire someone to watch it, or do you have friends and family peek in on your place while you're gone.  What about your pets?  Boarding or placed with the grandparents?  But, I digress.  This is really about a surprise.  A room hi-jacking, if you will.  For about three years, I have been entangled with a wonderful family.  As an outside observer, I've watched as this family balances multiple sport schedules and family life with their generosity towards the needs of others.  They are huge supporters of causes, and especially breastcancer.ca, which has had the audacity to strike them close to home.  This, as you may be able to imagine, means nearly 23hrs of their day is devoted to others (and the obligatory function of work, of course), and I would be surprised if even that one hour left in the day, was a selfish one.  Long ago, they hatched a plan to re-paint their house, give it a fresh palette, a touch of their own flair.  And, over the course of a few years, they've talked alot about these dreams, especially in my ear, and with wistful sighs, how they would eventually get around to re-doing their own master suite into an oasis.  Eventually they got around to painting a few rooms here and there, the kids rooms, the family room, the hallways.  Each time a more important 'space' took precedence rather than their own.  Now, don't get me wrong, they did get started on preparing the master suite, years ago, by removing some 100 year old wallpaper, but it was only partially removed.  And, the last time I saw it, they were living in a style of wall paper shredded, blank wall bliss.!  So, when last October, they told me about a trip they had planned for Cuba, a whole week in January with the family; kids and grandparents, an evil plan was conceived.  A whole seven days to secretly transform their master suite that they'd been dreaming (talking) about for three years.!  For months I waited and waited for my moment to pounce, and when finally the week came, it was the worst week possible in the Rustic Benches studio.  The six-year old apprentice was sick, there were snow days, freezing rain days, cancelled school buses and a ton of orders to complete.  Before I knew it, four of the seven days were gone!  Finally the child got well enough to be in school, so I enlisted some help, and off we went to tackle the space. 

almost a blank canvas

The first day was dedicated to prepping; protecting furniture, getting everything out of the way, removing the shreds of wallpaper, taping, priming, vacuuming and planning colours. 

top color - cream
The next days were spent painting multiple coats, adding new light switch/plug covers and cleaning up.  By the time we were done, and even though it was a small space, it made a dramatic impact on the room.  And, just in time too, we finished with barely hours to spare until they landed. 

That evening, I went home, poured a glass of wine and waited to see if my phone would ring. 
bottom color - chocolate

And, ring it did!

:: Insight, RB Studio.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Soup 'ER Sunday!

Most of the hype in North America yesterday, was either about the NFL or Madonna and the 46th Super Bowl.  Neither of which I saw live.  I did see the highlights of the NY Giants pulling off yet another upset win over the better team (on paper, at least), New England Patriots .. and there weren't any declared 'malfunctions' in Madonna's creative halftime spectacle (as long as you aren't counting MIA's obscene gesture).  So, what was I doing that was soooo important as to miss what 111.3 million people on this planet were tuned in to, you ask?  Well, I was making and doing stuff, of course.!

#6 White
The doing :: driving my son across this great land for his timbits hockey game.  Literally four hours of my day was devoted to packing, driving, dressing, watching, picture taking, undressing, return driving and unpacking the boy and his gear.

A smile and a big win (7-2), sure made it worth it.

 The making :: super sunday sushi snacks! This time I made Avacado, California and Smoked Salmon Dynamite rolls. Again, the big smile was just the perfect reward for the effort.

That was our Super Roll Sunday!

Insight :: the RB studio