Decor inspiration: Celebrating Canada Day

It’s the Canada Day long weekend – the perfect time to think about adding something Canadian to your decorating. It seems our country is rather chic right now and I’ve stumbled on quite a bit of Canada-themed home decor lately. My top picks below!

Watercolour print on Etsy“I love Canada” watercolour print – $16.22 on Etsy
Isn’t this gorgeous? Would be stunning with a white frame and a big mat.

Pillows at Spruce

Various Canada-themed pillows – Spruce (Photo via BlogTO)
This store recently opened in TO and I keep meaning to check it out.
They have all these fun pillows with  everything from the Great Lakes to a map of Canada!

CBC record journal at Scout

CBC hard-bound record journal – Scout
Scout, a gift shop on Roncesvalles in TO, always has adorable (and often patriotic) trinkets.
This CBC record-turned-journal is no exception. What’s more Canadian than our national broadcaster?

To all my fellow Canucks, I hope you’re enjoying this long weekend and have a chance to celebrate our lovely country on July 1! Thanks to all our readers from coast to coast!

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Decorating with your man

Over the past month, my boyfriend Jordan and I have slowly been transforming our initially empty condo into a place that feels like home. We’ve made like FOUR trips to Ikea and built the furniture ourselves, which as you all know is the most fun thing in the world, clearly. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post where I reveal the fruits of our labour! But first, I wanted to write about how to decorate with a dude (without killing each other). After doing it, I’ve definitely got some tips to pass along for any folks moving in with their man.

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Play some show & tell

Let’s face it, most guys don’t want to spend hours talking about pillow options or whether “Picket Fence” or “Calming Cream” is a better choice for white paint. But it’s definitely good to have a quick conversation outlining your personal tastes. If your man is social media-savvy and willing, make a joint Pinterest board where you can veto each other’s ideas and post photos of rooms you enjoy. We tried this out and it helped us get a sense of the other person’s taste without spending a cent.

Make some swaps

As you start decorating together, you’ll probably have to compromise and swap some of your personal choices for ones that suit you both. I owned some hot pink pillows and my boyfriend, not surprisingly, was not a fan. I realized I liked them because they brightened up a largely neutral colour palette… so I swapped out the notion of pink for a trendy burnt orange shade. Now, our living room doesn’t look overly feminine, but the pillows (check them out in the photo above) still provide a much-needed pop of colour.

Have some personal spaces

We all have things we love when it comes to decorating. It could be an old favourite painting or a craving for a crazy patterned rug. While you might have to keep those decorating desires in check in shared spaces, it’s a great idea to have a few areas where you can each decorate to your heart’s content. For us, that’s our office areas. He’s putting up an Indiana Jones movie print, I’m putting up a painting he kind of totally hates. Both spaces make us happy!

Ditch the idea of a “perfect” room

Yeah, sure, we all want our homes and apartments to look like something out of a magazine – but let’s be real. Those staged rooms with no cords or clutter don’t exist in real life, especially when you’re living with a guy who loves his video games or movies or any kind of technology. The sooner we (and yes, I’m talking to all of us ladies) can get over the fact that life doesn’t imitate our inspiration boards on Pinterest, the happier we’ll be living with our dudes.

Have you ever decorated a space with your significant other?
Let me know your tips for making it work in the comments!

Recipe: Potato salad with chives & tarragon

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I’ve been borrowing a lot of recipes from my mother lately. What can I say, the lady is a good cook! I tweaked her potato salad recipe to make this version… and it’s so darn yummy. It’s also simple, quick, and doesn’t contain any heavy ingredients (like cream or cheese) which makes it a healthy side dish. If you’ve got a potluck or dinner party coming up, this is a great dish to bring!

Ingredients (for 4-6 servings):

  • 1 bag of mini potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Large white onion
  • Green onions
  • Dijon mustard
  • Chives
  • Tarragon
  • Salt & pepper

Directions

  1. Place the potatoes in a pot filled with water (should be about half an inch above potatoes). Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and keep cooking until tender (15-16 minutes).
  2. Chop up half an onion and a few green onion stalks.
  3. In a pan, heat up some olive oil. Fry the onion and green onion for several minutes. Add garlic and fry for another minute.
  4. Coat potatoes in the onion/garlic/olive oil mixture.
  5. Finely chop a bunch of chives and tarragon. Add more olive oil to potatoes as needed, along with the chives, tarragon, dijon mustard and salt and pepper.
  6. Toss potatoes and let stand.
  7. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

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Onion lovers will definitely enjoy this potato salad. But the real flavour, I’d say, comes from the tarragon – personally, it’s not a herb I use often, so it gives this dish a unique taste. This salad also keeps in the fridge for a couple days – meaning you can get a few meals out of it. From personal experience, I know it pairs as well with hamburger as it does with steak.

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Placemats from Anthropologie ($16.00 CDN, $14.00 USD)

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Recipe: Pear & walnut salad

Pear and walnut salad

There’s something so pleasing about a light summer salad. I love this pear & walnut combination which features a simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette based on a recipe by my mom. It’s healthy and provides the perfect starter for a summer barbecue – and pairs beautifully with white wine. (Anything that goes with wine is good in my books!) While the presentation for this salad is so lovely, you can make it in under 10 minutes… so why save it for a special occasion?

Ingredients (for 4-6 servings):

  • 1 pear
  • 1/4 cup of walnuts
  • Goat’s cheese
  • Arugula
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 of a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. For the dressing, mix together olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard and honey in a bowl. Add a few squeezes of lemon juice and a dash salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Skin the pear and use a paring knife to cut off fine shavings.
  3. On top of arugula, sprinkle the pear shavings, goat’s cheese and walnuts.
  4. Drizzle dressing over top shortly before serving.

Pear and walnut salad

This is a lovely side salad for the summer (we had it with beef tenderloin, potato salad and green beans over the weekend) but could also be a satisfying main course. Try it served with our honey dijon chicken on top – the dijon mustard in both recipes makes them a great pairing. Happy cooking!

Pear and walnut salad

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Recipe: Strawberry mango smoothie

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I hesitate to call this a “recipe” because it’s so darn EASY to make. But trust me, the simplicity of this strawberry mango smoothie makes it a better alternative to complicated store-bought ones which generally have extra sugar and other ingredients. It’s also delicious, and my favourite smoothie to make at home.

Ready for it? I only use three ingredients: Frozen mango, frozen strawberries, and orange juice. That’s it! Generally a ratio of half fruit to juice blends the easiest, I’ve noticed.

Oh, and if you’re wary of frozen fruit in case it has fewer health benefits – don’t fret. Just buy fruit that’s frozen without any extra syrups so you’re getting all the nutritional value of the fresh kind (and sometimes more, since fresh fruit can lose nutrients during transport, whereas frozen fruits are, pardon the pun, frozen in time!)

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Recipe: Honey dijon chicken

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I’ve never been much of a mustard fan on burgers and whatnot, but I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a dijon-based marinade. Dijon just sounds lovely, and looks lovely, so why wouldn’t it taste lovely too? (It does, for the record.) I played around with flavours for this simple recipe that’s quick to whip up but tastes absolutely wonderful.

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 4 breasts of chicken
  • 1/4 cup of dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • Fresh thyme
  • Black pepper

Directions

  1. Mix dijon mustard and honey in a bowl.
  2. Add olive oil and crushed garlic to pan.
  3. Chop onion into slivers and saute for 1-2 minutes in pan on medium heat.
  4. Add chicken to pan and coat both sides with dijon/honey mixture.
  5. Cook chicken for about 7 minutes until there is no pink inside.
  6. Add thyme to pan shortly before taking chicken and onions out to serve.

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The whole process takes less than half an hour – but it doesn’t taste like a quickie dinner. I paired the chicken with smashed potatoes and a simple arugula salad with parmesan shavings and balsamic dressing. So easy, so good! And similar ingredients for all three makes the whole thing extra simple. Happy cooking!

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Recipe: Smashed potatoes

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I’m generally pretty lazy when it comes to potatoes – I boil them and call it a day. But enough is enough! I decided to mix things up and try something a little bit different (albeit STILL pretty simple). The result? Smashed potatoes.

Ingredients (for 2 servings):

  • Bag of mini yellow potatoes
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of thyme
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan areggiano
  • Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Boil potatoes for 7-10 minutes.
  3. While potatoes are boiling, grate the parmesan and mix it in a bowl with thyme.
  4. Once potatoes feel ready (as in, you can slide a fork in easily), strain them and lay them on a baking sheet.
  5. “Smash” the potatoes using a meat pounder – or if you don’t have one of those, just use the back of a large ladle or spoon.
  6. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and grind on some pepper.
  7. Bake them for 5-10 minutes, then flip.
  8. Bake for another 5-10 minutes until slightly golden.
  9. Take the little fellas out and drizzle on a bit more olive oil, then sprinkle with the mixture of thyme and parmesan.
  10. Voila! They’re ready to enjoy.

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