Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Bathroom: Before

My renovations are *almost* complete. I feel a bit funny about showing pictures at this point as things don't look quite finished yet. However, I am unsure when I will ever have the (a) motivation, (b) time and (c) money to finish things, so I might as well post now, before everything is passe.

When I purchased my 1981 condo in April, almost nothing had been updated. The original floors had been replaced with laminate (not my favourite, but it will do) and it had been painted at some point, but otherwise the cabinets were ugly melamine, the stove was 30 years old and the bathroom was . . . . just gross.

Here is what the bathroom looked like when I took possession:

I am not sure if the ugliness comes across well, but let me assure you, it was yucky! The counter top was stained, the sink was almost rusted though, the floor was 30 years old and pockmarked, there were TWO medicine cabinets, the shower wall above the tiles had small holes and the whole thing smelled like mildew. And, to top it all off, the housing inspector told me that the toilet was in danger of exploding (apparently it had been recalled many, many years ago). None of this mattered to me however, because I wound't have bought this place if gutting the bathroom wasn't an option.

Here is the bathroom during the renovation:

The wall removal revealed some gross insulation which had to be replaced. I used the fancy blue cement board around the tub to prevent future mould damage and now I wish I had replaced all of the gyp-rock. The two medicine cabinets and counter top removal caused major wall damage and, no matter how much patching I do, more holes and lumps and bumps continue to appear.

As a first time home owner, this was my first renovation and it taught me a lot. First, that no matter how good I think my taste is, I am not a decorator and things probably won't look like the cover of a magazine. Second, it is better to leave small issues alone because attempting to fix them will probably make it worse. Third, stick to the products you really want. Waiting a few weeks (or months) for something to arrive won't matter in the grand scheme of things. But (fourth), don't stick to things you want when something is "off" about them (I made this mistake with my paint colour).

The "after" pictures will follow shortly, but here is my bathroom at the midway point:

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Eating

Five steps to the perfect summer meal:

1) Toast two slices of whole grain bread and spread with butter
2) Add several slices of the Little Qualicum cheese of your choice
3) Top with thick (local) tomato slices (sprinkled with salt and pepper)
4) Slice up two ripe peaches from Oliver, BC
5) Eat


Oh, and the optional #6: repeat again tomorrow!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Peaches are Coming! The Peaches are Coming!

It's the most wonderful time of the year! My favourite food (well, third favourite after fresh baked bread and chocolate) has arrived in season! Rejoice!

Seafood on the Seashore

I hated seafood as a child, but growing up in the land locked rockies, it was never quite fresh and much of it came breaded and packed in a cardboard box. Now, however, I have lived on both coasts and have sampled my fair share of salmon, lobster, crab, prawns, mussels and a variety of other ocean delights.

Prawns are a good example of my ongoing shift towards seafood. Prior to my return to Victoria in 2008, I think I had had prawns once, about 10 years ago, when out for dinner in Kootenay Lake, BC. These prawns were wet and slimy and downright gross. I tried to feed them to a stray cat and even she wouldn't bite. I decided to swear off prawns for life. But, after one cooking class with Heidi Fink last year, I was a convert and now I eat prawns all the time.

I recently made this dish:

I tossed pan fried prawns (butter, salt and pepper) with cucumbers, baby tomatoes and shredded carrots, topped this with a dressing of greek yogurt, dill and lemon and shoved all into a pita pocket along with some lettuce. A big step up from my slimy prawns of 10 years ago and a perfect summer meal.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Strawberry season has ended on the island (at least the "real" strawberry season) and raspberry season is nearing it's end as well. It has been short and sweet!

My box of beauties

Bath time


A blissful lunch of raspberries on Greek God's yogurt and freshly made jam on brioche


Sunday, July 11, 2010

To Market, To Market

Well, after two months of take out and restaurants, I am finally cooking again! I have decided to forgo my food box for the time being. The Moss Street Market is walking distance from my new place and, while I love my food box, nothing compares to a trip to this market - it is a complete shopping and entrainment experience. Two Saturdays ago, after starting off my trip with a mocha from the Five Corners Cafe and a bag of cinnamon sugared mini donuts, I managed to track down some lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cheese, basil pesto, lavender, white carrots, beets, a cucumber, a pretty blue mug, salmon, a baguette and two delicious unnamed delicacies made with orange fennel brioche and rolled in sugar. Yum!

I returned to the market again yesterday and collected some similar finds (although my favourite pottery maker was not in attendance, probably a good thing!). I did add in some delicious sunflower spouts a new potatoes and eliminated the salmon. I love salmon, but after living next to a salmon spawning stream for several years, I find I have developed a radar for even the slightest of fish decay (salmon spawning streams are VERY smelly places). So, I will be sticking with my friendly fish monger from now on.

I didn't take any pictures of my purchase from yesterday, but I did use my finds (plus a few additional items from the grocery store) to make one of my favourite summer meals, Rice Paper Rolls with Prawns.

It's good to be back in the kitchen again.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Ahhhhh . . . .

My renovations are almost complete, I've unpacked all of my boxes and I have returned from a lovely, but exhausting, adventure on the East Coast. I feel like I am starting to breathe again after the chaos of the last few months. To celebrate this, and the arrival of summer, I have decided to eat as many berries as I can over the next few months. For what signals lazy times more than the preparation and munching of little juicy morsels of bliss?

My berry extravaganza begins with strawberries!

I bought a whole flat of beautiful June berries grown right here on the island.

Then I made jam. Mmmmmm.

My goal is to make 12 jars so that I can have one per month throughout the year. I've made 6 and already polished off one. I am not quite sure how my plan will work out!

Next, I made Strawberry Shortcake. The real kind. Not the spongy weird stuff from the grocery store.

So, so good.

And, of course, I had to make crepes. For what is life without crepes?

And, lastly, I finished the strawberry festivities off with some scoops of vanilla bean ice cream, my strawberry jam and some freshly chopped strawberries. What could be better?

I went through more than a flat of strawberries in less than a week and will be headed back out to the berry farm to pick up some more tomorrow.