Monday, February 27, 2012

Pumpkin, Chorizo and Chickpea Soup

I made a simple version of this incredible soup the other day. I had leftover pumpkin puree (left over from making pumpkin ravioli, a recipe which I will share soon) and we had some chorizo sausage in the fridge we had to use so I googled pumpkin and chorizo and this was one of the recipes that came up. I didn't follow it closely, just the idea and the part where you blend half and leave half chunky. It was sooooo good. No salt, no gluten (expect whatever may be in the sausage) and if the pumpkin is ready to go then it is really very simple. YUM!

Europe Part 2: Rome

Continued from Part 1 ...The train from Menton to Ventimiglia was short and sweet (although late). Ventimiglia to Genoa was ok but we missed the train from Genoa to Rome and had to buy new, first class tickets (when we got home we were able to refund our original tickets because it was the transit system's fault we missed the train not ours). First class was lovely, we relaxed and watched the Italian countryside roll by while eating some pretty decent prepackaged ham and mozza sandwiches we bought on the train. We arrived in Rome around 6pm at the main train station, which feels a lot like an airport/mall. We took a taxi from the train to our hotel, the sun was setting and although the driver drove like a maniac I really enjoyed the ride. We checked in to our hotel (which was perfectly comfortable and not too far from the city centre, I would recommend it if you want a hotel in Rome) and had some german beer and roman pizza at the hotel bar before passing out in the room from exhaustion. Little did we know that exhaustion we felt was nothing.

Rome. Kicked. Our. Butts.......


Each day we would go out into the blistering heat and run all over the place seeing things, trying to find somewhere to eat, taking busses, subways etc. On our first full day we saw the Colloseum, The Roman Forum, Palatino and Ostia Antica. The trip to Ostia Antica (an old roman village ruins that are really well preserved) involved taking a filthy, graffittied, stiflingly hot train devoid of electric lighting, but it was worth it. That day we ate sandwiches from a street vendor and dinner at the hotel restaurant (minestrone, cantalope wrapped in proscuitto, etc.). On our second full day we saw The Pantheon, The Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps and Piazza Navona. We ate delicious pasta at a wine bar, had gelato by the Trevi Fountain and dinner near Piazza Navona. In Piazza Navona they have this light/music show on each night that blares opera, shoots lasers and projects images of the Virgin Mary and other italian stuff on the side of a building. This was at first enchanting, hello Italian opera being played during an open air dinner, but soon became obnoxious and embarassing. On our final day we got very ill and MISSED SEEING THE VATICAN while we hid in our hotel waiting until it was time to catch our overnight train to Paris. However, the last day was not a waste. I ventured out into the neighbourhood surrounding our hotel to get a few supplies and I learned a few things. First, I learned that while a woman travelling in Rome with a male companion is 100% safe from Italian catacalls the second she ventures out alone she will be hit on. Second, restuarants in Rome are expensive and grocery stores are mind bogglingly cheap (and they sell super cheap wine, like $2 CAD a bottle!) If you plan on visiting Rome try to stay in a vaction rental with a kitchen and cook food yourself, not only will you save money but you will probably get a much more authentic culinary experience.

Now for photos...

View from the train of the Italian countryside

Gladiator on a smoke break outside the Colloseum


Black cat who appeared to live in the Colloseum.

In the Colloseum

Walking across the road from the Colloseum to the Palatino, it's probably about 10:00 am and we are already sooo hot and tired.

Roman Forum

I couldn't get enough of the olive trees!

Gardens inside the Roman Forum


At a Roman theatre in Ostia Antica
Foundations from the old town left intact in Ostia Antica
Passageway from one room to another grown over with ivy.

 Bath house in Ostia Antica

 The Spanish Steps (not nearly as busy or filled with Romans as usual because we were in Rome around august 15th which is a holiday when everybody vacations outside of the city for two weeks or something. It was kind of eerie, just a bunch of tourists wandering around.)

 View looking back after reaching the top of the Spanish Steps

The Pantheon, we went inside later but when we got there at first there was mass going on. It all sounded very lovely in echoey Italian.
The Trevi Fountain
Crowds at the Trevi Fountain

Pasta at a wine bar!

Sitting in the hotel lobby after checking out, killing time, missing the Vatican, staying near free bathrooms...

We got on the overnight train to Paris around 7 that evening....I thought nothing could be worse than our complex, delayed and exhausting trip across the Atlantic, but I was wrong. Nothing could have prepared me for an overnight train ride with a stomach bug.

If you have any questions about visiting Rome, feel free to comment and I will try to answer them!

Up next: Europe Part 3: Paris (a very short story)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cutting your own bangs...Not always a mistake.

How do you cut your own bangs? Slowly. Carefully. Patiently. With low expectations and with tips from this site. I got lucky this time and I was able to turn my awkwardly grown-out side swept bangs into freshly cut straight across bangs. Make sure you cut them longer than you think you want them, hold your scissors diagonally cutting little bits at a time, taking breaks often to check your progress in the mirror and don't cut straight across!
Make sure you leave some longer bits at the side so the bangs taper off softly.
They can still be worn side-swept too!

Happy (and careful) cutting!

Friday, February 3, 2012

DIY Word Art For Your Valentine

This project could be a wedding present for a newly-wed couple, a gift for your spouse for an anniversary or Valentine's Day or you could customize it for any occasion (birthdays, baby showers, etc).

I made mine a while ago just because I wanted some personal art for around the house....

DIY Word Art

  • Printer Paper
  • Pencil
  • Black Sharpie Marker
  • Scissors
  • Picture Frame (4x6 to 8x11)
  • (Computer, Word Processor, Printer)

1.Start by opening a word document on your computer, set it in landscape mode and set the margins to the smallest you can.

2. Write or copy and paste vows, song lyrics, inside jokes, sweet nothings, promises etc. Anything meaningful for you or the recipient of the gift. Fill the whole page and choose different fonts/boldness and sizes to add visual interest and break up the phrases so that important ones stand out.

3. When you are done filling the page print in out and use the glass of the frame it will go in to trace around the area you want shown with a pencil. (Up to an 8''x11'' frame will work, I used a simple, white 5''x7'' frame.) 

4. Now, take your pencil and within the traced area free-hand draw or stencil an initial. It could be you and your Valentine's first name initials or your shared last name's initial if you are married. Draw the initial(s) large so it really stands out, the fill it in with your sharpie.

5. Cut along the rectangle you traced using the glass and put the finished product in the frame!

Like I said this project can be done for any occasion just change the initials, colours and phrases! I will try to make another example and post it soon. Comment if you have any questions and share if you make your own!