Category Archives: The Kitchen

The big reveal: my blue and white kitchen

After having lived here for over a year, we’re finally able to say that our kitchen is pretty much complete and looks like a real, functional kitchen. That feels nice.

I’d already shared glimpses of the kitchen’s white and blue decor in this previous article. Here’s the full reveal (Please excuse the bad grain in the photos, I’m having trouble with the indoor lighting of photos these days):

Kitchen blue and white

white and blue kitchen

blue and white kitchen greece

The room’s white and blue color scheme was inspired by the Cyclades, a group of Greek islands situated in the Aegean Sea.  There, the local architecture mostly consists of cubic, whitewashed houses with colorful roofs (often in deep blue shades that mimic the color of the surrounding waters).

kitchen island bar stools

magnets and refrigerator photos

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Beautiful food: the romanesco broccoli

When I’m not out looking for a new subject to blog about, I work at a small, family-owned grocery store.

I’m one of those people that gets amazed at the little things in life, and the fact that I get to play with fruits and vegetables all day long makes me happy.

Rarely will I get excited about an apple, an orange or an onion, but once in a while a new, cool looking variety pops up and I’m back to being a kid again.

The romanesco broccoli is one of those vegetables that amazes me.

I first saw a romanesco broccoli in a book called Pour en finir avec la cuisine de mémé (In english : Down with boring old food! Inventive little recipes for the 21st century) by Raphaele Vidaling.

Taste-wise, it has been compared to a mix between a regular cauliflower and a broccoli. It was first discovered in Italy, hence the name.

If ever you come across one of these, don’t be intimidated by it! Here is a list of interesting recipes:

Linguine recipe on La Tartine Gourmande

Pan-roasted Romanesco with peas on Martha Stewart

Roasted romanesco cauliflower with thyme and pine nuts on Almostveg

Pasta and Cauliflower soup federica on Epicurious

Roast chicken and romanesco cauliflower and potatoes on Sweet Potato chronicles

Family heirlooms: my Italian roots

Most of the furniture I own is conceived by Swedish designers and built in factories. No great story there (yet).

This is one of the few pieces in my house that comes with it’s own past. It was sculpted by my great-grandfather (on my father’s side), Cesare Balestreri.

Cesare first came to North America in 1912. He was one of the millions of people that docked at and went through the immigration process at Ellis Island, near Manhattan, New York. Over the next few years, his wife and two young sons came to join him and the family settled down in Montreal.

My great-grandfather and I don’t share the same last name. In the 40s, after World War 2, racism was rampant against Italians so they decided to change it to an anglicized version of the word (Archer). The name may have disappeared but I will never forget where my family came from and looking at this little shelf as it hangs in my kitchen, I get a daily reminder of that. I’ve always been amazed and filled with admiration in thinking about what these people had to go through before, during and after their journeys of immigration.

In 2007, I went back to where the story starts: Como, in Northern Italy. This is where my grandfather was born and where some of his relatives still live. I was too shy to go and meet them, wanting to explore this beautiful city by myself but what I can say is that I instantly felt at home there. I was lucky to go back there for a few hours in 2010, after having been through a bad life experience. Once again the city’s charm and peaceful attitude soothed me.

I hope you enjoy the photos and if ever you are in the area, I urge you to visit this lovely town!

Glimpses of the kitchen

My kitchen is practically done, so I’ll be ready for the big reveal soon. For now, here is a preview.

The blackboard with lyrics from this classic french song: Boris Vian- La complainte du progrès

The cookbook and spice shelf. If ever you stumble upon a book from the Grain de Sel collection, edited by Raphaele Vidaling, grab it! Here are a few of the good titles available: How to forget your ex with the stab of a fork, Fairytale food, Try this and marry me! or Young globetrotting Swedish female seeks guinea pigs.

Yes, I know, half my books are upside down. Not sure why but I kind of like it this way.

The Vargas girl poster. Alberto Vargas is one of the most famous pin-up artists of all time. I’ve always loved the pin-up aesthetic and his work is especially classy and sensual.

The mason jar shelf. I dismantled an old bookcase and decided to reuse the shelves. I’ve always liked mason jars and the endless possibilities they offer in terms of decor and practical storage so I searched the Internet in order to find an idea for a project that would use both my old shelves and some jars. This awesome tutorial is what inspired me.

I still haven’t decided what I’m going to put on the middle shelf but I know that I want to break the pattern so I’ll probably put hanging planters or something like that.

Washi tape on the cabinet door handles. I had never heard of washi tape before I bought it and used it to cover my boring old cabinet doorknobs. I just randomly stumbled upon this pretty, colorful japanese tape at the craft store, thinking it would be very versatile in covering dull surfaces. Apparently it’s really trendy in the craft world right now.

I’m using it as a temporary solution for the knobs, but it’s doing a pretty good job so far even though the edges can be a bit sharp. I used three layers of the magical product that is Mod Podge to make the tape stay in place.

What’s cooking? Grilled Eggplant and Brussel sprouts. I spend part of every Tuesday cooking for the week to come. I work 40 hours starting Wednesday and finishing Saturday, so after 11.5 hour shifts, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking.

‘What about your boyfriend?’ You ask…

Well, let’s just say that cooking is my part of the deal and he does lots of other stuff around the house.

This week I made: Chicken broth (which I will use to make shrimp soup with vermicelli), Carrot soup, Beef steak marinated in a Hoisin/tamari/garlic/ginger sauce, Duck confit (store bought!) and the eggplant. Sounds pretty good huh? 🙂 If you’d like some recipes please let me know, I’d be glad to share!

Easy crafts for lazy people: Picture magnets

For the third installment of the series (part 1, part 2), I have prepared for you the easiest tutorial yet published: how to make picture magnets.

The biggest challenge may be to find the actual magnet sheets to make the magnets. I found mind at the local dollar store and there is no specific brand written on the packaging, but I’m sure if you look around at craft stores and the like, you’ll be able to find something similar. Websites like Amazon and Etsy carry some, but the ones I saw are quite expensive.

Materials needed:

Magnet sheets with adhesive

Mod Podge Matte

Scissors

Ruler (to mesure the photos, to cut more precisely)

Good quality printed pictures (can also be cut out of magazines)

Paintbrush

How to: 

Start by choosing the images that you want to put up on your fridge. I decided to keep in line with the retro theme in my kitchen (I’ll show you later ;)) and selected old colorful food advertisements like those that are featured in these Taschen books.

Keep in mind that you can also decide to make any shape of magnet you want. With the scraps of magnet sheet I had left over, I stuck some nice paper I had on them and cut the pieces into small circles and squares to make more magnets (see photo at the end of this article)

The Magnet sheets I bought are 6 inches x 9 inches so I could fit two photos, each 3 x 4.5 inches.

Before you remove the waxy paper that protects the adhesive part of the sheet, make sure that everything fits like you want it to. If all is good, start sticking! Just be careful and go slowly. My sheets had a very strong adhesive and it was impossible to fix any mistakes. Once it was stuck, it wouldn’t budge.

After that’s done, use your scissors to cut each magnet.

Now, some may be satisfied just keeping the magnets like this, but since they’ll be used in the kitchen, near the stove, I thought that it would be better to seal the paper so they would be washable. I used one coat of Mod Podge on each magnet.

Use a regular paintbrush to apply a thin coat and wait a few minutes. If you see bubbles forming, pop them right away. The magnets should be dry and usable within 30 minutes to one hour. While you are waiting, go watch some PS 22 kids choir videos, go check out retro recipes on Midcentury menu, go dance to some Le Tigre or New Young Pony Club 🙂

Voila!