easter decorating

I'm hoping by this time next week I'll be introducing you to my new blog. So exciting. Until then, I'd thought I'd get you inspired with some tabletop ideas for Easter that I did for Chatelaine. chatelaine_easter_sianrichards8There's nothing more beautiful than a basket (or bowl) of eggs. I mixed together natural duck and quail eggs with organically dyed eggs (instructions below) and a few thread wrapped eggs.

chatelaine_easter_sianrichards4

Make your own centrepiece by stacking different vases filled with one flower on top of a cake stand. Vary the heights to keep it interesting.

chatelaine_easter_sianrichards6Make your own dyes using ingredients you find in your fridge and pantry. Onion skins, loose tea, blueberries, beets, and even parsley create beautiful, coloured eggs. For instructions, click here.

chatelaine_easter_sianrichards9If you don't want to get your hands dirty, try wrapping your eggs in thread or washi tape. The thread can be held in place with a dab of white glue. Decorating eggs like this literally takes seconds.

chatelaine_easter_sianrichards5Instead of traditional easter baskets, try these Mason Jar takeaways. Simply glue a plastic animal to a mason jar lid and spray paint the whole thing. Fill the jars with nesting material and top with candy eggs.

chatelaine_easter_sianrichards2Give a simple name tag some personality with a strip of washi tape and a thread-wrapped eggs. I chose to mix springtime pastels with hits of bright neon's to keep it interesting.

chatelaine_easter1_sianrichardsFinally, our Northern Climate means flowers aren't always in bloom by Easter. Chances are you have lots of bare branches though! Cut some down, place them in a jar and hang floral foam eggs pinned with chrysanthemums. Easy Peasy!

Photos: Sian Richards for Chatelaine Magazine
Prop Styling: Julia Black, Rayna Schwartz

 

annie's take - valentine's day

Ah, romance. Say what you will about crass commercialism and Hallmark and the gaudy kitschiness associated with Valentine's Day - after many years of being ambivalent, I have come around to feeling that there is no better time than the dead of winter than to celebrate love.

Preferably indoors, with a large pot of tea and some sweet thing at hand to nibble on.

valentine's day-2

Surely I'm not the only one who - despite my recent lengthy and sublime winter holiday - finds all of this cold intolerable, who could easily let days and even weeks slip by without so much as poking my nose out into the frozen air?

Who could very happily subsist on dessert for the entire month of February, and most of March as well?

This, after all, is the dreaded and dreary time of year when we all start to weary of our hair shirt-y resolutions. January's promise of a fresh start has started to lose its glimmer; the weather lately feels punishment enough without the added insult of self-denial.

valentine's day-3

And love - well, love is the very opposite of the pinched, pallid, crumpled outlook that is endemic to mid-February.

Love is expansive, warm and indulgent, just the thing to ward off another six weeks of this chill.

So I wish you all a wonderful day today, whether you are fond of romance or not. I wish you sweet treats and a hot pot of tea and pretty, sparkly things as far as the eye can see. And love! Much, much love.

Happy Valentine's Day! -Annie

Photos by Kristin Sjaarda
Prop Styling by Annie McDonald-Johnston
Blue and White tea set, Vase, Beetle Knob: Anthropologie
Love Tea: The Mercantile
Valentine cookies: Mabel's 

noma - an eating experience

Twenty-four courses. Yes, that's exactly what you get at one of the world's best restaurants Noma (currently ranked at #2) although it occupied the #1 spot for three years running. None disappointed. Adhering to a strict local philosophy (much of the food is foraged within a 60 km radius of the restaurant) head chef Rene Redzepi uses techniques like smoking, fermenting, pickling and curing to extend a product's life and to bring you the absolute essence of the ingredients.

Below a sampling of what we ate.

TMHB_Scandi-15-2

Nordic coconuts a.k.a kohlrabi served with edible greens. You drank the juice through the herb straw.

TMHB_Scandi-18-2This classic Noma dish - quail eggs pickled and smoked in hay - let loose a hazy spiral of smoke when the lid was removed.

photo (21)

Crispy reindeer moss which we dipped in a type of creme fraiche.

TMHB_Scandi-19-2Monkfish liver served atop of caramelized milk "crackers".

TMHB_Scandi-20

Tiny shrimp enclosed in nasturtium leaves served in a yeast broth and topped with local flowers.

Screen shot 2013-11-19 at 8.46.02 PM

Perch head served on a stick. A gooey mess but deliciously flavoured.

Screen shot 2013-11-19 at 8.46.20 PM

Onions with pear, buttermilk broth and wood ants (which was meant to double as salt). Probably my least favourite dish mainly because of the onions.

Screen shot 2013-11-19 at 8.46.37 PMCauliflower cooked with fresh pine and served with whey yoghurt and horseradish broth. Hands down one of the tastiest dishes.

Screen shot 2013-11-19 at 8.46.59 PMSmall potatoes with fish roe, fermented barley and kelp oil.

Screen shot 2013-11-19 at 8.47.15 PM

Wild duck with pear. We were warned to look out for pellets as the duck is freshly hunted.

Screen shot 2013-11-19 at 8.45.26 PM

Even the bread was an experience - fresh sourdough served with sheep's butter and pork lard.

TMHB_Scandi-24

I can't remember what this was. It looks like egg but it's not. It kicked off the dessert round.

Screen shot 2013-11-19 at 8.47.30 PM"Danish pastry" filled with seaweed and fermented barley.

TMHB_Scandi-26Finally the last thing we ate that evening was crispy pork crackling covered in chocolate and topped with berries. It was served with coffee made in a pour over method.

TMHB_Scandi-27As we were leaving we popped into the kitchen for a quick look.

TMHB_Scandi-28

The lounge side of the dining room was lit with candles and had dried flowers and herbs hanging from the beamed ceiling. It's a place I could easily call home.

{Images are a combination of my own and instagram shots from Edwards Eats - he ate a very similar meal to ours at lunch time which resulted in better daylight quality photos!}