Monday, October 20, 2014

Round-up: 5 Fresh Pumpkin Decorating Ideas! ... Almost No carving required

Visiting a pumpkin patch was something we did yearly with the kids when they were younger. I miss this tradition. When did the weekends get so busy that we haven't found time this year to go apple picking or to the pumpkin patch? Visiting the farmer directly is so much fun!

I'm a bit of a pumpkin traditionalist when it come to carving. Maybe it's the intricate pumpkins my Dad carved every year. They were works of art! While my Dad sculpted his pumpkins into elaborate designs, my Mom loved to paint them (long before Pinterest and Martha). 

So in the interest of prepping for the big day, here is a round-up of five easy ideas for decorating your pumpkins!

animal themed pumpkin image via Apartment Therapy and Country Living

These are perfectly cute pumpkins that your little trick or treaters will adore. Woodland animals! No carving required. Lots of felt, cupcake wrappers and buttons. This would be fun to do with kids. The original source and instructions for this pumpkin project are from Country Living which you can find here.

Dapper pumpkins via Matthew Mead.

I love this no-carve idea using top hats and flowers or chalk and paint from Matthew Mead.

Mini-fanged pumpkins image via Martha Stewart

 Minimal carving required! A fun idea for decorating mini-pumpkins using plastic fangs and push pins.

Paper owl pumpkins image via Matthew Mead

Another great idea from Matthew Mead using paper to decorate!

Sharpie Pumpkins image via Lil Blue Boo

Grab a Sharpie and let your imagination run wild. I'm kinda crazy about these ones. I think I'm going to put my daughter in charge of decorating a few of these. 

If you are looking for more fun ideas I spotted lots of great ones over here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Delicious Food Show - A Giveaway!

Hey foodie friends,

The Delicious Food Show is coming up the weekend of October 17-19th and I have a pair of tickets to giveaway to one of you!!

To enter, simply leave a comment at the end of this post.

It's a perfect date night/day or outing with a lucky friend.  
It's an awesome event for food lovers with tons of exhibitors (200+), lots of yummy sampling (my favorite), live cooking demonstrations and celebrity chefs like Mario Batali, Chuck Hughes, Tyler Florence and Lucinda Scala Quinn.

I attended last year and really enjoyed it. You can read about it here. Last year, I saw Martha Stewart and even kinda met her. As she walked by me (2 feet away) she made eye contact and said hello. Don't judge. I love Martha.

Martha Stewart at Delicious Food Show 2013

So, when the Delicious Food Show reached out to me about this year's show, I asked if they had any extra tickets I could share with you. So now I have a pair of tickets to giveaway.

Anyways, it's lots of fun and a great way to check out new food and entertaining products, local restaurants etc. I'm kinda excited about a feature called Delicious StrEAT featuring five popular Ontario food trucks too.

For more details on the show and who will be there go here.

Leave a comment below to be entered to win a pair of tickets to the show.  Winner will be chosen on Friday October 10th.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Autumn inspiration from Matthew Mead

One of my favorite holidays is next week - Canadian Thanksgiving. I love this holiday for its simplicity. There is no mad holiday shopping involved, just some simple decorating and the focus is on family and food. Love that.

So, I'm starting to embrace autumn decorating now and have swapped out summer touches for pops of orange through the house. Next week I'll share some images of what we do here to usher in autumn but I thought you would love to see what my friend Matthew Mead has been up to lately.

He sent over a few images from his latest book Matthew Mead's "Frightfully Fun" Halloween. It's full of fabulous ideas (as usual). You can find his book in stores now. I've seen them at Indigo/Chapters in Canada and I know they are available stateside at many retail locations.

These pumpkins are adorable and there is no carving required! I think these would be a fun Thanksgiving activity for kids (and grown-ups) next weekend.  

I love to share Matthew's work with you here. 
It's simple. Matthew is an amazingly talented, creative soul and I am continuously inspired by what he creates. He has also become a dear friend and mentor. He and his wife Jenny are an unstoppable duo and I cannot wait to see what is next on the horizon for them. They have had a challenging year. The publishing world is in major transition and reinvention has become the reality for many. However, I am a believer that what you put out into the universe will come back to you at some point so there must be a lot of beauty headed their way ;)

Simple table display with bits of nature gathered from a walk in the woods. PS that table is perfection. So rustic. Perfect for drinking wine and eating cheese with friends. I really want to find a table with this kind of texture...

Love the mid-century vibe of this vignette and of course the use of Japanese Washi tape to decorate the pumpkin. Washi tape is amazing and addictive, so finding another fun way to use it works for me!

A fun way to add subtle touches of Halloween (just a few weeks away!) - a bowl full of happy little gumballs

Vintage cat tchotchke, fun without being all commercial, right?

So there you go a little shout out to Matthew Mead and his holiday team for another epic Halloween book that you'll go back to over and over again. 

Happy weekend friends.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I made this delicious and healthy roasted butternut squash soup last night. It was perfect for a rainy autumn evening, and if there is one thing I love about autumn it is soup. It makes for easy and comforting weeknight dinners, don't you think?

This recipe has a kick to it with the curry and the red pepper but you can adjust to your taste. I love roasting root vegetables for soups. It adds such a great depth of flavor. This soup is made hearty with the addition of red lentils. It thickens the soup and adds fibre and protein. I love using lentils in soups and stews.

I pulled out these pretty vintage soup bowls I still had packed away. It's like a shopping trip every time I open a box. 

By the way, I used curry in this recipe. I love curry but you may not, so just replace it with something you love.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup --- the recipe


1 large butternut squash
4 medium carrots
2 shallots, diced
1 cup lentils, rinsed and drained
1 litre chicken stock
1 heaping tablespoon curry powder (or to taste)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
*1-2 cups of water


Cut the squash in half lengthwise and rub butter on the inside.
Remove ends from carrots and peel.
Place squash face up on baking sheet, then add the carrots to the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake in a 375 degree oven until roasted (approximately 45 minutes) the squash and carrots should be golden and soft. When squash and carrots are roasted, set aside to cool.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a large pot and add the shallots, saute on a medium heat until they start to soften. Then add the curry powder and red pepper flakes to the shallots and cook on a medium to low heat until the shallots soak up the curry powder a little bit. Add the (rinsed and drained) lentils to the pot along with the chicken stock. Stir.

Scoop the roasted flesh from the squash and cut the carrots in half, add to pot.
Bring it all to a boil and let simmer for about 30-45 minutes.

*Once the soup has simmered and the lentils are cooked through you may need to add some water to thin the soup out a little bit. I added about 1 1/2 cups of water at this point. 

Puree the soup. I just use a handheld blender.

**Ideas to garnish the soup:

Roast the seeds from the squash. Simply toss with a little bit of olive oil, sprinkle with cumin and roast in the oven alongside the vegetables. But be careful because they pop so put them in a separate pan or do stovetop. PS. these are so good and make a great snack too!

Fry some thin slices of chorizo. They add a great smoky flavor to the soup.

Take it up a level and put these two garnishes together with a dollop of sour cream and it looks so pretty and tastes so good!

This recipe yields a large pot of soup enough for at least 8-10 bowls.