Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A belated introduction





Ribby, my American Eskimo puppy

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Coming soon...

Yesterday we traveled up north to the town of St. Apollinaire to sign a contract... for a new puppy! I didn't take any pictures of her because I was too busy cuddling, but expect some in about two weeks! She's an adorably fluffy white American Eskimo and I'm so excited!

Now we just need to think of a name...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Let the Games Begin

Fruit Fly Death Device

Warmer weather must surely be on its way, because we had what seemed like a million fruit flies suddenly appear yesterday.

But it just snowed last night, so I don't know what that means.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Petits Gâteux-Poudings au Chocolat

I'm finally back in Montreal (new work permit issued, yay!), and one of the first things I did to settle back into home was bake. One of my Christmas gifts was a subscription to the Quebec magazine Coup de Pouce, and on the cover of the February issue that was waiting for me was a photo of the most delicious looking mini chocolate cakes. I've been referring to them as souffles but I guess they technically aren't, but anyway! The magazine is in French so it was a true test of my skills to follow a recipe correctly in a foreign language!

These cakes are super dense and moist, but not overly sweet. The recipe called for a side of home made caramel sauce, but we just dusted on a bit of powdered sugar and poured some whipping cream on them and they were to.die.for.

Petits Gâteux-Poudings au Chocolat

2 tbsp and 1/3 cup sugar
1/3 unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 flour
1/2 tsp salt

1. Butter four ramekins and coat in sugar. Set aside.

2. In a microwavable bowl, mix the butter and the chocolate. Heat in a microwave for one minute. With a wooden spoon, stir just until the chocolate is completely melted.


3. In a large bowl, mix the remaining sugar, eggs, egg yolks, flour, and salt. Add the chocolate mixture. Divide the batter into the four ramekins. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


4. Bake the cakes for about 25 minutes, or until the cakes are set but still soft in the middle. Let cool for 5 minutes. (The cakes can be prepared in advance, let cool completely before covering and put into the refrigerator. They keep for up to two days. Reheat each portion in the microwave for about 30 seconds before serving.)


I would have taken a picture of the inside, but I was too busy eating them. NOM.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Oh, Paris

Paris
Been reminiscing lately about my undergraduate adventures in Paris. Can't wait to return someday...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Balcony, Revisited

balcony mood board

Whipped up this mood board the other day after not having sufficiently daydreamed about my balcony. A few of the things on here are out of reach, like the $400 iron trellis from Pottery Barn, and the $300 pendant from Ballard Designs. But I like the idea of them!

The other thing I'm considering when I have an extra $100+ laying around is interlocking deck tiles. The flooring on the balcony is by no means unsightly, but it was painted (rather sloppily) light blue and I guess I don't really, uh, get it. Having natural teak would be so lovely.

I think I'm going to go with climbing jasmine for the trellis. It won't survive Montreal's harsh winters in a pot, but I'll just let it die and get a new one the next year. I just hope it will climb enough in a few months to be worth it!

The funky pots are from Terrain, and the adorable bird watering can and the seed bombs are from Anthropologie (can I even get those across the border..?)

And who knows if hummingbirds will ever find that feeder on my balcony in the middle of the city, but I'll try to lure them anyway. :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Small Spaces

Bed nook from BHG.com

If I ever end up moving into a studio, this gives me hope that it might not be so bad.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Red tape... I'm drowning in it!

I haven't spoken much about the legal side of moving to another country, but it's a huge huge part of the process. The whole reason I'm not in Montreal right now is because I'm waiting for permission to come back (as a worker).

I originally entered Canada last spring on a Working Holiday Visa. It's a program for young people who were recently students to get foreign work experience. There are similar programs all over the world. What's nice about a working holiday visa is there's no long application or waiting. I went through an organization called BUNAC which arranges everything and provides the emergency insurance required. Basically, I paid the fees, showed up at the Canadian border with paperwork from BUNAC (which took no more than a week to get), and was issued a 6-month open work permit. Piece of cake!



It's once that work permit expires that things get complicated. It's not a program that can be extended or renewed, so if I want to stay in Canada and continue working, I have to go about getting a work permit the old fashioned way:

1. Find a job and be offered a position. The position must be skilled and full time.
2. Employer submits an application for a Labor Market Opinion, where the government evaluates the employer's efforts to recruit Canadians for the job, and whether there are any labor shortages in the industry.
3. File an application for a Quebec Acceptance Certificate and pay the fees ($340!!), which is basically an approval from the government of Quebec to immigrate into their province.
4. If the LMO is positive, a copy goes to Quebec so they can finalize the Acceptance Certificate.
5. Once BOTH the LMO and the Acceptance Certificate come back positive, I can take these documents to the Canadian border, pay the fees ($150), and apply for a work permit.
6. And finally I can go to work.

The work permit issued in this case will only be a closed work permit, meaning I'm only authorized to do the job I was hired for with the employer that hired me. If I quit or am fired, I lose my working rights in Canada.

Presently, my new employer and I are at stage 3. We've submitted the LMO and the Quebec application, and we're waiting for the LMO to get approved so it can go to the Quebec office. This is the 7th week since we submitted the application, and my employer only just got contacted by Service Canada asking for some additional documents. The wait is so frustrating! In the meantime, the bills are piling up... yikes!

On the bright side, I'm actually at a bit of an advantage because I'm from what's considered a "visa-exempt" country. Americans are generally permitted to come and go through Canada without a tourist visa. Because of this, I can apply for a work permit in person at the border and get it that day. People who are from say, the Philippines, would have to submit an application at the Canadian consulate in their country once they get the paperwork approved, which takes even more time (we're talking months). So at least I get to avoid that...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Itty Bitty Balcony

While here in Washington we're getting a fresh dump of snow and freezing temperatures, I've started dreaming up my plans for the balcony back in Montreal. Since last spring I've been envisioning a lush, mini-oasis in the middle of the city, something hard to achieve on a 4x8 balcony that faces a busy street! I did make a bit of progress last summer, including a wrought iron bistro set that I simply adore, a pair of solar carriage lanterns, and a doormat that complements the style of the balcony railing as well as the bistro set. With the addition of a few plants, it was almost starting to look like something I had in my head. Almost.

The Balcony
The balcony at its best (before all the plants died!), last summer.

This year I'm hoping to have a bit more of a head start on the balcony, and the first order of business is installing an inexpensive wooden trellis on the far end for a little added privacy, and training some sort of climbing vine to fill it up. The problem I'm running into, however, is finding a fast growing, annual climbing vine that is non-toxic to cats. A lot of the popular contenders like clematis and morning glory are toxic, and I don't want to risk my cat's health! She loves the outdoors and I'd hate to deprive her of the balcony due to dangerous plants. I also want an annual and not a perennial because I don't want to bother with bringing it indoors and taking care of it all winter, unless there is something that can survive the deep freezes of Montreal winters in a pot (not likely).

The next thing on the list is a few long planter boxes to hang off the top of the railings. In addition to some colorful flowers, I'd like to plant something thick and lush that will spill over the edges and drape downwards that further suggests a sense of privacy behind a screen of foliage (a fabulous example).

And then of course there are accessories, like interesting pots and planters that are a step up from your basic terra cotta pots. I've already started with a few steel pots from Ikea, but I also like the idea of using urns and other interesting containers.

One advantage to not being on the very top floor of our building is we have a roof over our balcony, which will more easily facilitate enclosing it for a feeling of privacy. I'd love to hang a fabulous pendant in the middle like this one from Ballard Designs, but that's not really feasible considering there is no outside wiring and it's a rental. But it would still be awesome! The other option is string lights and an extension cord... classy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

We're saved!

We've all been crying since Domino magazine folded. Luckily there's a new online magazine that is "reopening the doors of accessible design." Lonny Magazine!



In addition to the magazine, its website is full of inspirational content. You can even order a hard print copy of the magazine (though at a cost).

The magazine was launched in October 2009, so I have lots of back issues to peruse through!

|image: Lonny Magazine

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A piano, perhaps?

So the other day I was perusing Craigslist to see what was on the market for pianos. I grew up with my mom's beautiful baby grand piano and I definitely miss having something to play. I found a couple of cute little console upright pianos that I thought would fit into the apartment, but they were at least $400. But you know, I was just looking, just curious.

I emailed a couple people about the dimensions of their pianos just to have a better idea of what I might be working with.

And then the following day I get a second email from one of the sellers. It said, "Actually, if you're still interested in the piano, would you take it for free?"

A FREE PIANO? OF COURSE. Voila:


I know, terrible image quality, but this is straight from the ad itself.

Before we finalize this deal, I have to make sure that we're not going to lug it home and realize that wow, it's still too big. So I've been looking at the dimensions and even had Y. tape out the size of the piano in the space to have a better idea of how it will actually look in the room.

Living Room Floor Plan

Our living room layout, courtesy of the Ethan Allen Room Planner, with the piano in place (and an imaginary rug, but nevermind). My only real concern is that it sticks out too far and will visually block the flow of the archway leading into the living room. And the tape:

The shape of the piano, taped


My gut says to go for it. It's not every day that you're offered a piano for free! And my mom mentioned to me that acoustic pianos don't get much smaller than this one. Also, the archway leading into the living room is a good four feet wide, so I don't think it's really going to make it awkward to walk through even if it does stick out a little.

Ooh I'm so excited! Can't wait to paint it a glossy white, find a cute little piano bench (it doesn't come with one), and upholster the seat in a fun fabric!

Now to find some piano movers...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

oh my goodness

Well things certainly have gotten a little crazy around here. And by here I guess I mean there because I'm not even in Montreal! I got a great new job offer, but before I can start we have to get government authorizations and work permits, which takes a horrendous amount of time. So I decided to return home to visit my family while we wait for it, but now that I've been here five weeks I'm ready to get back!

Christmas was fabulous and we had a real tree and everything! I didn't have a huge budget for decor but I definitely managed to make the apartment very festive! I'd post some photos on the blog but I feel like that might be a little... out of season so check Flickr for a few peeks.

In the meantime, I'm still dreaming about further sprucing up the apartment, even from thousands of miles away (again). Here's what I'm currently lusting for!

favorite things

1. I just love the trellis pattern on these panels from Z Gallerie. I do worry though that the color might be a little too bold. I'd have to look at them in person, but there are no stores anywhere close to me!

2. Something I've really missed about my parent's house is a nice warm fire to stand in front of. An electric fireplace is a great solution for apartments that weren't blessed with the real thing. And you can also take it with you when you move! I would happily replace our cheap little media console with this baby, even if it does mean finding a new solution for the storage we'd lose.

3. A small, round, tufted ottoman would be the perfect addition to a presently bare spot under our huge living room window. This ottoman, while certainly out of my price range, is the first I've found with the perfect diameter of 27". But I'm sure I'll be able to find something comparable after scouring enough flea markets!

4. I'm obsessed with this rug from Ballard Designs. The colors and Jacobean floral pattern are perfection! Much to my dismay, Ballard is no longer offering this rug in the larger sizes, and I need at least an 8x10. To add insult to injury, all their rugs are 15% off right now!
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