ON THE SHIELD

by Catherine on August 22, 2014

in Best of Toronto

There’s a swath of granite called The Canadian Shield left behind by the last ice age that sweeps down from the Arctic to just a few hours drive north of Toronto. Quite apart from the rolling agricultural hills of southern Ontario, The North as it’s called (although ‘The Vast Majority’ would be more apt) is a carved  landscape of big rocks, inky lakes, silver birch and evergreen trees. On the shores of one of those lakes, up on that shield, sits a little cabin with little to recommend it but whispering trees, family memories, and an ever present view out to the rippling blue.

For those of us who’ve moved around or come to live far from where we were raised, familiarity can become something altogether unfamiliar. It’s a quiet luxury that’s easily forgotten until we come face to face with it again. That’s what I thought about as I sat by the fire next to that cabin listening to the sound of the water lapping while my mother and grandmother talked about the olden days. That… and this…

Things I love: Wind in the pines; the crackle of birch bark on a damp fire, Tim Hortens apple fritters, the brief whoop of the loon greeting his mate on the water; the smell of balsam sap on sticky fingers; wild blueberry patches on rocky outcroppings; looking out for black bears near wild blueberry patches on rocky outcroppings; the old blackened kettle simmering all day on hot stones; the glimmer of sky through thick forest announcing the closeness of the lake just when you think you’ve lost your way; flannel shirts.

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NAKED CAKES WITH GILLIAN BELL

by Catherine on August 20, 2014

in Showroom

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I’m still a looooong way from Showroom, enjoying my summer vacation in Canada. (In fact, when this post is published I’ll be getting back to my woody roots up at the family cabin without electricity or running water, much less the internet… I am bringing my camera, though, and I can’t wait to show y’all the landscape I love the most when I get back to the city at the end of the week!)

While I swat mosquitoes by the lake there’s lots going on in our old Paddo Queenslander – we’re gearing up for a super fun schedule of workshops in September. We have a heap of sessions to help bring out your inner green thumb, plus Claire and I will be hosting another Social Media for Creative Entrepreneurs on Sept 13th, and on the 21st Gillian Bell will be back in The Makery to reprise her Naked Cakes Class.

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We had so much fun at this workshop the first time round and luckily Kylie from Just For Love Photography was on hand to capture all the details… Thanks for the pics, Kylie!

On the day, Gillian began by showing the group how to make the perfect sponge using locally sourced, organic ingredients. Gillian’s recipe just happens to be gluten free which was such a bonus for quite a few of our ladies who were out to learn the secrets of a special occasion recipe that sacrifices nothing in the taste and texture stakes to dietary requirements.

While the cakes baked (oh, they smelled good in the oven!) each participant learned to crystallise little blooms grown in Gillian’s own edible flower garden. We then used the shimmering flowers along with fresh berries, home made curds, and decadent whipped cream to style the mini layer cakes each participant constructed in their own cake box, ready to take home. The naked cakes were so impressively beautiful, and Gillian and I can’t wait to see the look on the faces of the next batch cake-makers-in-training when they sit back and admire their creations at the end of our next session! If you’d like to come along, do click over to sign up here.

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POTATO SALAD WITH GREEN TAHINI DRESSING

by Catherine on August 13, 2014

in Recipes

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Laid back summer days call for simple food that’s easy to prepare. I haven’t been spending much time in the kitchen at the cottage this week but the fresh Ontario produce is too good this time of year to not get excited about eating well. This potato salad with green tahini dressing is one of my favourite dishes to keep stashed in the fridge for a quick snack post-swim or when friends stop by after the boats have been docked at sunset.

green tahini dressing

Potato Salad with Green Tahini Dressing Recipe

1. Wash and/or peel whichever delicious potatoes you have on hand and cut them into bit sized pieces.

2. Fill a pot with cold water, add in the potato pieces, and sit on the burner to simmer away.

3. When the potatoes are almost tender, add some frozen peas into the pot. I like a potato to pea volume ratio of about 2:1.

4. The peas only take a minute or two to cook. Drain and return the contents to the pot to cool while you blitz all the dressing ingredients together in your food processor.

Green Tahini Dressing:

1 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp honey
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup fresh parsley & dill sprigs, lightly packed
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup warm water
1 garlic clove

(makes about 500ml of dressing, so you’ll have plenty left over for your next salad or sandwich!)

5. Toss the peas and potatoes in the dressing, add a few extra sprigs of herbs on top for cuteness, and enjoy warm or cold… this salad is fabulous either way!

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SIMCOE

by Catherine on August 11, 2014

in Personal Posts

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In Australia when people ask what I miss most about Canada my answer is always the same. It’s the lakes, and this is why.

On long August days in Simcoe County the light is soft, the water’s warm, and in the fields leading up to the little white house where my favourite childhood toys still sit up on wooden shelves in the sunporch the air smells sweetly of peaches and cream corn growing up to the sky.

Up here I drift along in a canoe, eat blueberries with my grandmother, practice underwater hand-stands on the sandbar with my cousins and completely forget about faraway city things, like how checking email is something people like me do 10 times a day.  And just a single day spent like that is entirely worth the thirty odd hours in planes and airports it took to bring me here.

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THIRTY

by Catherine on August 7, 2014

in Personal Posts, The Spring Shop

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It’s my brother Peter’s birthday today – 30 years old!

As usual, he’s taking it completely in stride and I’m getting all sentimental. I amazed at how fast our childhood together went by, how creative, self-possessed, and awesome he is in every aspect of his life now, and how this milestone means we’re really, definitively both grown ups from here on out.

This weekend we’ll be milking the celebrations for all they’re worth with family, friends, too much food and a trip to NYC next week!

(speaking of food, Pete, this cake is gluten & dairy free which = totes paleo, right?)

So HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

I can’t wait to see how much huger you get this year!

(the beeswax birthday candles… which he’ll be blowing out tonight… and enamel plates are available here)

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YCL jewels

If you’ve been following along on Showroom‘s social media then I bet Fabienne’s beautiful face is already familiar to you. As I hang out in my family home on this balmy Toronto night she’s at the shop, representing #teamshowroom and working on YCL Jewels, her line of delicate, pretty, heartfelt jewellery that I can tell you feels so, so special to wear.

Admittedly I don’t know much about crystals. But love seeing them through Fabienne’s eyes as powerful little tools that can be used to help manifest our dreams and create more warmth, positivity, and physical well-being in our lives. I mean, who wouldn’t like to tap into magic like that?

Later this month Fabienne (along with our friend Caroline from Wilde Flora) is hosting an an evening of exploration into the uses of crystals for your space and life. In this workshop the ladies will explain the properties of various crystals, demonstrate the benefits of using particular crystals to support life situations and feng shui interior spaces, and each participant will be led through the process of intuitively selecting a crystal for themselves and guided through a meditation. It’s going to be a beautiful, bountiful night so if you’re in the Brisbane area on August 12th I’d recommend checking the details out.

And now… on to the interview!

your core light jewellery

// Style

Q: How would you describe your personal style?

When I choose my outfit for the day, I always follow the rule ‘simple is best’. I try not to overthink things & always choose what I feel comfortable in (with the odd ‘crazy high heel’ exception here & there). In winter I tend to opt for slim fitting blue jeans, ankle boots, a plain top with a crop jacket or blazer, paired with a bold scarf. Being a jewellery designer, I also love to accessorise; if I feel that my outfit needs a lift, I always do this through my jewellery. In summer you’ll find me in a long maxi dress, shaped with a belt, a felt hat, some cute flats & a bright lip.

Q: What’s your biggest style challenge?

Dressing for my shape. It can be difficult finding jeans for small, shorter-legged women who have a bit of booty. Some jeans may fit my legs but are too long for me, or some fit the booty perfectly but are to big around my waist. Researching different designers & labels, trying on & not being afraid to spend a litter more money on quality jeans is the way to go. Veronika Maine are my go-to label for jeans!

Q: What are your go-to beauty products?

RMS Living Illuminizer for that year-round radiance & glow, Antipodes Saviour Skin Balm to keep my skin fresh & dewy & RMS Lip2Cheek balm, as a blush, to pop some colour into my cheeks.

YCL jewels Showroom Brisbane

// & Substance

Q: What inspires you lately?

Unexpected moments of beauty & trust; a lady bug landing on my shoulder, unintentionally stumbling into a hidden garden, the blessing of sitting next to a wise tree… I feel naked & more sensitive to these moments as I grow, moments that some time ago I would have been blind to.

Q: What do you love about your business?

Creating is something that is embedded within me & using my hands daily to create designs that have been inspired by moments, scenery & beauty, for the women of YCL, is the most sacred facet of my being & business. I love that I am able to wake up everyday & do what I am most passionate about; I do what enlivens my spirit. Also having a business that is online & in store at Showroom Brisbane, means I have best of both worlds. Connecting & engaging with my online community, physically, is so rewarding & fulfilling, as we’ve all grown together.

Q: What’s your greatest challenge as a creative entrepreneur?

Following my intuition, everyday. Going against the grain some days can be confronting, especially when it is so common for societal stereotypes, of who you ’should be’, fearfully push many people off their path & into something that is not authentic & true to them. Simply affirming to myself that I am happy & I trust where I am in my life & business & remembering why I first began YCL Jewels & the message I am sharing; all of this creates resilience, drive & excitement for future endeavours, expansion & growth.

Q: If you could jet off anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Prague, so I could pretend I was back in the Middle Ages; even just for a day.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

‘Authenticity Breeds Abundance.’

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CHOCOLATE MOUSSE FLOWER POTS

by Catherine on July 30, 2014

in Recipes

chocolate mousse flower pots

A few months ago, Carolynn from The Small Garden made these chocolate mousse flower pots for a soiree we threw together at Showroom. They were so good I asked her for the recipe and now I’m finally getting around to sharing it here. The mousse is richly chocolatey but the small flower pots hold the perfect portion and make for the most irresistibly adorable party presentation.

Chocolate Mousse Flower Pots Recipe

Ingredients:

300g good-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
3 eggs
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon good-quality cocoa powder, sifted
300ml thickened cream
1 packet of Oreo biscuits (for the “dirt”)

You will also need some little pots for serving.  I used mini terracotta pots which you can buy from The Spring Shop!!  Just give them a good wash before using and pop a tiny ice of baking paper in the bottom of the pot to cover the drainage hole.

Directions:


1. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Stir until melted. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

2. Place eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with electric beaters for 5 minutes, or until mixture is pale, thick and doubled in volume. Fold in cooled chocolate and cocoa powder until combined.

3. In a separate bowl, whip cream until thickened (be careful not to over-beat). Use a large metal spoon to carefully fold the cream into the chocolate mixture, trying to keep the mixture as light as possible. Spoon into little terracotta pots serving and  chill in fridge for at least 1 hour.

4. To serve sprinkle with crushed up oreo biscuits and a sprig of mint.

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GREEN THUMB

by Catherine on July 28, 2014

in Showroom

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Last weekend was frantically fun. My team and I hosted three workshops back-to-back-to-back at Showroom – it was a little bit hectic, maybe, but what could be better than a well loved space bursting with the energy of creativity and every shade of green?

First up was Kokedama Making (messy!) followed by our Advanced Terrarium Class (finicky!) with Caroline from Wilde Flora. Then on Sunday we had the very great pleasure of watching a room full of women tackle modern calligraphy with impressive finesse, guided by Louise of Floralovely. If you’re inspired to check out more pics from the weekend (I always get a little too snap-happy at these events) go on and visit Showroom’s Facebook page.

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grocery shopping 2fruit market 3fruit market 2fruit marketfruit market 5plywood milk crate with groceriesfalcon enamel prep bowls 9photo shootfalcon enamel plate 6 This week my creative intern Miss Anwyn and I have been holed up in The Spring Studio, shooting a whole new look for The Spring Shop online. Our goal was to take photos that balance clean lines and simplicity with warmth and a sense of the utility of everything I’ve collected there. It’ll be a few more days before our new imagery is fully  rolled out but I’ll be sharing tidbits on Facebook and Instagram if you’re impatient for a sneak peak!

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Brisbane Finders Keepers I was so excited to post these shots on Monday morning as I basked in the sunny after-glow of the Finders Keepers weekend… But when I flipped up my laptop lid and hit ‘refresh’ on The Spring Blog I discovered to my horror that the blog. had. died. Rats. This was the first time that something has broken on this site that was too complicated for me to fix…  Too complicated, largely, because the root cause is still a complete mystery to me. In an email weeks ago (which I barely read) my web host had announced automated PHP upgrades across all sites. I didn’t bother much about it since the only thing I know about PHP files is not to mess with them. Luckily my new friend Jess recommended the loveliest blog fixer Lis who got straight onto my web troubles and has me back online, stress free. Amazing. THANK YOU. And back to Finders Keepers. The two market days set a blistering pace of greeting, chatting, and selling to the design-savvy crowds that pack the beautiful Old Museum site. The buzz about the place is tremendous and and for all the brands its such a significant event in our calendars that even the seasoned designers (myself included) get a few butterflies in our stomachs before the doors fling open and the first rush begins. The Spring Shop stall was so busy I didn’t personally get much of a chance to explore, so my creative intern Anwyn stopped by to take these photos on the Sunday afternoon. You’ll be seeing much more of Anwyn’s work on the blog soon because we’re starting an exciting project together next week, so stay tuned for that! finders keepers Brisbane duos2Brisbane Finders Keepersfinders keepers Brisbane duosBrisbane Finders KeepersBrisbane Finders KeepersBrisbane Finders KeepersBrisbane Finders Keepers

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