Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fare thee well

As those of you who are regular readers of the "Life of Three" know that tomorrow, two of the "three", my mom and a few other lovely ladies will be blasting off- destination, beautiful Bahamas!!! I, being the one who is being left behind, have just one thing to say- BON VOYAGES!!! (Ha ha, I bet many of you thought my what I had to say was going to be jealous/vulgar huh?!?!?)

Although I will miss the sun, the drinks and the fun, I think the thing that breaks my heart the most is that I will not be there to celebrate the youngest of the "threes" birthday :( That's right, my youngest sister-friend is going to be turning 25 years old and I won't even be around to bug her about getting old... mind you, I guess I can't bug her too much because as badly as I bug her about aging... I am still the eldest :/

To the lovely ladies travelling with my family- please take care of my girls! (Not that they need taking care of but I've got to be away from my sisters for a whole week of fun & sun... for those of you who know us, you know this will be hard for me and for those of you who don't- YES, we are THAT close!!!!!)
To my sisters & my mom- have a wonderfully amazing time, you all deserve it more than words can say!!! Don't worry about the boys, they'll be well fed while you're gone :) PROMISE!
Have a drink (or five or six) for me - I'll shovel some snow for you!

Much love

Monday, February 27, 2012

Silver Lining

Good Monday Afternoon Everyone! The same thing happens every year... I make new years resolutions and then I break them. I start off the year with good intentions, only to slowly forget all the things I absolutely promised not to do this year. Well, my friends, the first to go was my promised to not be a lazy blogger (LB). I promised to post, and write, and take pictures, and document my life... and this past week, I did none of that. I am lucky, however, because this is the Life of Three and not The Life of One and my sisters kept this ship afloat while I was spending my time elsewhere. I had a pretty busy weekend and work has been so hectic, I hardly have time to eat lunch. BUT... there is a light at the end of the tunnel, a silver linning on this massive cloud and that light is the sun in Nassau. This time on Wednesday, we'll be arriving at Sandals in Nassau and ready for our first glass of champagne. I honestly cannot wait...

This will soon be....

 Nassau, here we come!!!

With Love,

The Cheap Guys' Wine List - Guest Post

As a public service E and I (and anyone else who wishes to contribute) will begin posting “The Cheap Guys’ Wine List” (CGWL). As background this all started when E (who grew up in Italy) converted me from beer to tasting wine at various gatherings over the past year or so (too many to count).

Now the challenge is: find a good tasting wine that is between $12-18 per bottle. Now we have several good friends (like “big Lou”) who swear by wines that are over $25 and even $50 a bottle. The pricey ones are usually quite good but tend to be too rich for evenings when 3-4 bottles go down like water. And it sort of defeats the purpose of saving at a BYOB! Sometimes we treat ourselves to a $20+ bottle but not often.  There are lots of more economical choices.

Due to E’s heritage we have focussed mainly on Italian wine but once in a while throw in a ringer from the US, Argentina and Australia (yes- even France sneaks in occasionally).
We have several basic rules. First off, we gave up on making statements such as the “nose of the wine gives off hints of raspberry flowers” or.. “I think it has slight hints of apricot, cigars and Reese’s pieces”.  We just drink the stuff and if it tastes good it makes the list. Second, if it has a flowery or strange spicy smell or taste it probably will not get past the first sip.
Just as a note also all of the wines tasted by the CGWL are RED (we leave the whites to the “blond crew”) and most are from the SAQ in Montreal (sometimes we get a sampler from other provinces).There is the odd  “dep” (depanneur) wine- a decent one being Amaretto-  that creeps in to the mix due to our poor “inventory control “ or other emergencies, but for the most part we are reviewing SAQ wines.

So with all that in mind we have already found some good, reliable selections even while we continue to experiment. As we go along we will report upon new findings and also on failures. 

Here are a couple of our recent favourites:
Click on any of the names for more information  

“Il Ducale” Ruffino $18.95

Nero D’Avola Rapitala $14.15

Masi "Passo Doble" (Argentina) $17.05

Canti Barbera D’Asti  2008  $12.35  

Ricossa Barbera d'Asti 2010 $13.95

These are all full-bodied, smooth tasting with no « funny notes » of spices, flowers or other irritating tastes. All good with pasta, pizza and other dishes that normal people eat.
One which we tried and rejected was Moma Umberto Cesari 2010 $16.90. They make Liano- a great Cabernet but Moma we found tasted too much of vanilla and we were put off (we passed it on to the girls).

We continue our quest for great taste and excellent value. It is a difficult job but as they say “someone has to do it” and we enjoy our job!
We know that there are thousands of choices out there so any suggestions to be tried and added to the listing are most welcome. We are fair-but tough to please (NOT!)

Hope You Had A Great Weekend!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rolling Out the Red Carpet

In celebration of Nuit Blanche, the Montreal Biodome decided to Roll out the Red Carpet for the Penguins. For the first time ever, a few of the more socialised ones were selected to leave their habitat and head outdoors. Despite the hundreds of people eager to get a look, I made my way to the front and had the pleasure of watching these adorable little guys. At first they were a bit shy and kept in close to the trainer.

But it didn't take long before they warmed up to the crowd and decided to walk around exploring the new scenery.

It was really cold out last night and I almost didn't go. But I am so glad that I did...

Nuit Blanche is one of the wildest nights of the year in Montreal - a night filled with cultural, musical and culinary activities (mostly free) throughout the city from 6pm-6am. If you have not yet experienced it, I highly recommend making sure you do!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

And Then Winter Came

There are some exceptions to me not loving winter and last night was one of them. We got 10-15 cm of snow but it was the beautiful kind - heavy, wet and sticky - the kind that makes perfect snowmen, that leaves a thick white coat everywhere it lands so white that it brightens up the usual dark night and creates a true winter wonderland. We headed to the park after a lovely family dinner to enjoy it.

It hasn't snowed like this in a while and I enjoyed being out, breathing in the fresh winter air. Sara and I had fun goofing around.

The boys had fun too.

Little accident...


Friday, February 24, 2012

Ahhhh, gotta love the PED days!

Good moring everyone! I hope you have all been well.

I am super pleased this morning because although my job can be demanding, draining etc some of the time, I also get the added bonuses such as Christmas vacation, spring break and PED DAYS!!!

Not that today is shaping up to be a calm day- the opposite rather... I have a cake to bake/decorate! It's going to be a challenge but I'm excited to see where I end up with it.

In the spirit of not ruining an important event for a dear friend who may or may not be a visit to the Life of Three, I won't say anything further... I will however document this potential disaster so I can share my trials and tribulations with you later on.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Simple Request

Hello everyone! I hope you have all had a nice day!

As some of you know, I work at a high school as an integration aid for students who have difficulties integrating as well as those with behaviour problems. My belief is that no one is born “bad” but rather are the product of their environment i.e. disadvantaged, sometimes abusive or neglectful homes. I try to keep this perspective fresh in my mind (especially on days when my students are less than cooperative!)

I’ve wanted to write regarding this subject for some time but debated how it would be received on “The Life of Three” -read: would this be interesting enough for people to stop and read??? However, last night, I decided that although it might not be interesting enough for people to stop and read, it is important enough to me to at least share my thoughts…

What made the difference last night?

For the second time this month I spent my evening at home baking a birthday cake for students I have come to know quite well- partially for their positive achievements, partially for their difficult days but mainly it is because these two young ladies have lives (at 14 and 16 years old) that most people would describe as unbelievable, inconceivable and just plain heart breaking. Neglect, parental drug use and physical abuse just scratches the surface of what these girls have been made to endure in their young lives. Despite the horror-show that is their personal lives however, these girls come to school every day ready and willing to learn- an attempt to overcome the negative cycle that has been repeating itself in their respective families for years.

I could go on and on with the sad details but instead I would just like to ask of you one thing: the next time you encounter a situation that leads you to think to yourself (or out loud for that matter) “those rotten teenagers!!!” please, take a moment to pause and ask yourself what these kids might be going home to. We all have bad days and situations that get us down however as adults, we have the power to go home and either take charge of the situation or make changes (most of the time.) For many of these kids however, they don’t have that option; they must live with the hand they were dealt until they reach the age of majority. So please, please, have a little patience, a little empathy, a little understanding. Are these kids perfect? No. But I can promise you that it is empathy, patience and understanding that will help them grow into positive, productive, happy young adults thus hopefully breaking the cycle!

And why the birthday cakes you might ask (apart from the fact that I know & love my students...) Sadly, on their 14/16 birthdays that have come and gone, they had never once been given a birthday cake on their special day. As if being a teenager these days isn’t hard enough…

Much love & thanks for taking the time


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Girl Should Be Two Things: Classy and Fabulous

Well it's a beautiful February day here in Montreal. The sun is shinning, the birds are singing, and there is hardly any snow on the ground. I don't know if I should be happy about this... or concerned. Seeing as I am not the biggest fan of winter, I am quite happy with our unusual weather, but it is a little bit odd. This time next week I will be doing my last little bit of preparing before we jet off to Nassau for a Girls Week away in the sun. I think I deserve a week off since I've been working so much this winter, so I'm going to suck the happiness out of every single minute there. Get ready girls! Or maybe I should say get ready Nassau!

View from the plane
Speaking of Nassau, I guess I better get started on my packing. As I have mentioned before, I like to have outfits prepared for when I'm going away instead of just throwing a bunch of pieces in my suitcase. This helps avoid over packing and also minimizes preparation time before dinners while away. This weekend, I'll put together some outfits and take some pictures of what I plan on wearing while I'm away. My sisters and I are very lucky; we've had good role models when it comes to dressing. My grandmother, who's age I won't disclose, is one of the best dressed ladies I know. She has some gorgeous pieces and always manages to put together some of the classiest outfits I've ever seen. She has an eye for what looks good, and is so darn stylish you'd think she had worked in fashion her whole life. As for my mother, she tends to opt for more casual looks during the day, but when she has somewhere to go... she always looks beautiful. My mother is tall, lean and has long legs; perfect for clothes. Put her in a pair of straight-leg pants with a nice cardigan and a matching necklace.. she'll look amazing. I like to think that I take a bit from both of them; I love to dress up and wear classic pieces like my grandmother, but I am a true casual girl at heart, just like my mama. Since I've done a lot of 'younger' fashion posts on this blog, I've decided to do a different kind of  fashion post; one that is more versatile idea of fashion. Many of these looks can be altered so that they can be worn by any woman. If you are interested in an item, just click on the name and it will take you to the source. 

Let's start with this Banana Republic Heritage Honeycomb Cardigan in Sandy Taupe. We all know that I love a chunky knit... well this one is the perfect combination of chunky knit and cardigan. Because it isn't too heavy, it can be worn, as seen above, with a blouse and jeans and still look dressy. It is such a versatile sweater, and could also be worn to dress down an outfit.

My mother would look absolutely perfect in these J Crew Women's Ludlow Trouser in Herringbone Linen. I love the cut of these pants, as well as the crisp pleat down the front. They aren't as heavy as they look, because they are made of a thicker linen, so they could be worn in many seasons. 

I know that the model wearing this J Crew Fanfare Tunic is young, but someone more.. mature could wear this just as easily. It makes the perfect beach cover up because of the fabric and the pattern, and is so light it is perfect for hot weather. Paired with a pair of capris in the same colour as her shorts, and you have the perfect summer day time outfit. 

I know older women tend to shy away from skirts because, as was believe by Coco Chanel "Knees are the ugliest part of a woman". Well, I don't necessarily agree with her, but know many women who do. So, if you're one of those women, this Tweed Pencil Skirt from Talbots is perfection. The length is long enough to cover most of the knee, but short enough to still be fun. I love the pattern on it as well. 

What better way to follow up a tweed pencil skirt than with Talbots Jackie Fit Tweed Notch Collar Jacket. Talk about timeless. I'm surprised my Grandmother doesn't already own this one. I absolutely love the cut of this jacket as well the one black button. So elegant and feminine. 

For a night out, this Luster Linen Sheath Dress from Talbots is really pretty. It could be paired with a cardigan (like the one below) for those who prefer to remain a little more covered up, as well as a lower heel or a glammed-up flat for those who want to dress it down. I love the neckline on this dress, as well as the material and think it really can be worn by women at any age. 

This Tie-Waist Cardi, also from Talbots is absolutely darling. It could be worn with so many different things, and has just enough detail to set it apart from your plain old off-white cardi.

A staple in any women's wardrobe is the classic light-coloured spring coat and Banana Republic nailed it with this Mid-Length Lady Coat in Cocoon. Everything about this coat just screams class. I love it, and if I wasn't the type of person who spills stuff on myself all the time... I would buy it.  

If you're in the mood to be a little wild, then this Snow Leopard Pencil Skirt from Talbots is for you. It has a completely different vibe from the Tweed one featured above, it is the same cut and can therefore be worn by women of various ages. It is fun and playful, and looks great with a black heel. 
And finally, something every woman should own are a couple of good scarves. I wear light scarves like this Banana Republic Heritage Print Square Scarf almost every single day not only because they double as insulation... but because they can add a little pizazz to an otherwise dull outfit. Next time you're wearing jeans, a plain blouse and a blazer, and are trying to dress it up, try a scarf, wrapped twice. I promise, it may not have been your first instinct (mine is always a chunky necklace) but it can give an old outfit a fresh new look. 

So there you have it, timeless fashion. I honestly love all of these looks and, even though the models tend to be younger, they can all be worn by women of any age. It's all about finding what's right for you. No matter what you're wearing, never forget these two things: Wear your clothes, don't it wear you and confidence is beauty. Have a stylish Tuesday!

With Love,

Monday, February 20, 2012

Broken Record...

Good Monday Morning Everyone! I hope you had a great weekend and are ready to take on the week. I know it seems like I am repeating the same thing every Monday, but that's because every Monday seems the same. I always feel like my weekend was too busy, too hectic, too short, too... everything. Monday morning always hits me like a ton of bricks, and I always wake up feeling like I could have used ten more hours of sleep. I had a lot going on this weekend and even though I tried to do everything, I missed our dear friend Shannon's Birthday so I would like to take the chance to wish her a very happy birthday. I hope we get to celebrate again in before we are off to the Bahamas next week. March is my busiest month for birthdays because, not including mine, I have 10 other birthdays in March. Some of the important ones are K, Gma Holland, Miss D, Miss R, my good friends D and J, both of E's sisters.. just to name a few. I better get a lot of rest while down south, because I'll need it for all the parties I will have coming up. Because it's Monday, and I'm never in the best mood on Mondays, I've decided to share with you some things that made me happy this weekend. Happy Monday!!!

Opening the lid of my latte to see that the older man making them put a chocolate smiley face in it. Made me smile and made my morning. 
Only some of the delicious food at my friend A's birthday party on Saturday Night. Girl knows us too well :) 

Seeing this add in my new Elle magazine that just arrived in the mail. HI NICE!!!

Making creative drinks at home on a Sunday night.. just because. 

Recipe: a little bit of rum, a little bit of sparkling water, mango tango juice and a few frozen strawberries. 

FINALLY seeing colour in the stores. Out with the grey, black and drab... in with the tangerine pants paired with the pale pink shirt and while jacket. Ok, so I may not love this ensemble, but I love the pieces separately and love that spring is on its way!

I love this dress. 

I did Cross Fit this weekend at my new women's only gym, Miss Fit and I am still ridiculously sore. Though I thought I was going to die during the class, I am so proud of myself that I pushed through until the end. And yes... we did have to do pull-ups on those bars. 

What are you loving this Monday?
With Love,

Favorite Things

This past weekend was fun but busy as usual. We celebrated a good friend's birthday on Saturday night at La Couscoussi√®re Ali Baba, a restaurant in downtown Montreal offering a mix of Moroccan and Tunisia traditional dishes.  On weekends, it is a dinner/show with live belly dancers.  The decor is quite unique, the food is tasty (a little over priced but with show, I guess you can justify it) and the overall experience is fun to try.

Wishing my oldest friend (we have been friends since birth) a very Happy Birthday today!

Here are a few things I am loving this Monday morning.

My new homegrown monogrammed mugs from Anthropologie. They teamed up with Australian artist Samantha Robinson to design these fun mugs. A gift from my very thoughtful MIL.
My adult vitamin gummies that are the only reason I remember to take my vitamins.
My Valentine's Day roses that are still looking pretty.
My flannel sheets that make getting out of bed any day of the week difficult.

Happy Monday Everyone.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

A thought...

Don't go through your boyfriend's (or husband's) text messages-

It can lead to ruined birthday present surprises...

(And no, I wasn't snooping or investigating... it just kept buzzing & he was sleeping. I thought I was doing him a favor!!! Promise!)

xoxo -K-

It's an OFF

An “off:” the idea of forming small teams and through the use of a predetermined ingredient/dish, competing against one another in order to come up with the best recipe and use of said ingredient. This idea was born during a friend’s birthday dinner when one of us claimed they could out-do the soup we had been served (at the restaurant- we might be critical but not tactless enough to criticize someone’s home-cooked bday dinner!!!)… of course, this lead to another dinner mate piping up and claiming that s/he could top THAT friend and so on and so forth. Hence the birth of the first “off,” the “Soup-Off.”
For those of you who are familiar with the “Iron Chef,” our rules were very similar:

-5 points for creativity
-10 points for taste
-5 points for presentation

Each team had 20 minutes to prepare/plate their dish (also allowing the other teams to somewhat digest the previous team’s soup.) The voting was simple; all participants rate the dishes, minus their own. (Because we are friends, we figured all would be honest in their voting.) Finally, the presentation order was drawn from a hat and the Soup-Off began.

I enjoyed numerous delicious soups that night including a lemongrass, coconut & shrimp soup (well, minus the shrimp cause of allergies), a curried carrot soup, the 2nd place 7 onion soup in a bread bowl which was created by yours truly & my brilliant partner in crime, ASB (yup, we do the “everything to do with sex Show together AND we are a killer team in the kitch! Dynamic duo I tell ya!!!) And, of course, the winner of the evening, created by a very talented newlywed couple (ok, it was new at the time), a tomato-basil bisque with parmesan crouton sticks. DE-lish!
(Yes, the recipes are posted below)

Without going through all of the boring details, the following year we had a wild (and very filling) time doing our Potato-Off! This made for highly creative dishes because of the use of an ingredient rather than a final dish. We saw everything from soups, gnocchi, potato fudge and the winner; potato nori used to wrap sushi and fried mashed potatoes served with a lime-potato sorbet.

Why am I writing about this you ask??? Well, Because our 3rd Off has been announced: A slider-Off!!! Ok, originally it was a Burger-Off but after further review we came to the conclusion that most participants would be full after being served their first dish therefore we decided to scale it down a little. I am generally a modest person but I KNOW I can make a mean burger… the problem is that after my 2nd place run at the soup-off, my potato dish kinda, well, sucked so if anyone has a killer burger recipe, something a little different, a little creative, feel free to pass it along! I will be hosting this year’s event so I can’t mess around with an average Joe burger!!!

Thanks in advance for sharing & I shall keep you posted- more Slidder-Off news to come…

**** Coconut, Lemongrass and Shrimp Soup ****

3 Cups Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
2 Stalks of Lemongrass, cut up.
4 fresh Kaffir Lime Leaves (not the end of the world if you can’t find any)
2 Red Thai Chili Peppers
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1 cup of canned Coconut Milk
1 teaspoon fish sauce (sounds gross but adds a lot of flavor… not the fishy kind!)
1 lb large peeled & deviened Shrimp
1/2 cup of whole Straw Mushrooms
1/4 cup of Baby Portobella Mushrooms thinly sliced
1/2 cup of sliced Baby Bokchoy
less than 1/4 cup of Julienned Carrots
1 small Onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
One small handful of fresh Thai Basil leaves for garnish

In a pot, add to the Chicken Stock some lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Chillies, minced Garlic, Turmeric, chopped Onions and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk & the fish sauce . Let it simmer for 2 more minutes. At this point you can fish out the Lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, I didn’t.

Turn the heat on high and the soup starts to boil, add the Shrimp, let it cook for 3 minutes. Lower the heat to low again.

Now add the Baby Bokchoy, Mushrooms & Carrots. Stir in the Lime juice.

Garnish with Thai Basil.

**** Seven Onion Soup ****

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 red onions coarsely chopped
2 white onions coarsely chopped
2 yellow onions coarsely chopped
12 fresh pearl onions or 10 ounces frozen
3 shallots coarsely chopped
2 leeks washed and cut into 1/4-inch rings
4 medium bunches of chives coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Marsala wine
6 cups beef, or low-sodium canned (chicken stock will leave your soup a little tasteless!)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped dried porcini
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves plus 4 sprigs of thyme

In a 4-quart soup pot over medium heat, combine the olive oil, red, white, yellow, and pearl onions, and the shallots and saute until golden brown and soft.
Add the leeks and chives and cook until the onions turn a deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, 2 minutes more, or until the mixture begins to bubble.
Add 2 cups of stock every 15 minutes for the next 45 minutes, allowing the liquid to reduce by one-fourth after each addition.
Add the mushrooms and thyme leaves with the last 2 cups of stock. The soup will be a very deep brown. .
*See comments below to get further instructions RE: bread bowl gratine*

**** Curried Carrot Soup ****

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 pounds carrots, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water, or as needed

1.Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion until tender and translucent. Stir in the curry powder. Add the chopped carrots, and stir until the carrots are coated. Pour in the vegetable broth, and simmer until the carrots are soft, about 20 minutes.

2.Transfer the carrots and broth to a blender, and puree until smooth. Pour back into the pot, and thin with water to your preferred consistency.

**** 1st Prize: Tomato Basil Bisque ****

3 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion
1/2 rib celery
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cans (16 ounce size) diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 cans (16 ounce size) tomato puree
1 can (16 ounce size) beef stock (you can use chicken)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (I use 2% plain yoghurt)
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat butter in a large stockpot. Dice onion and celery and add to pot. Saute until the onion is transparent.
Sprinkle flour over onions one tablespoon at a time, stirring in each one thoroughly with a large spoon until paste forms.
Add garlic, diced tomatoes and basil, and stir.
Stir in tomato puree and beef stock slowly, then whipping cream.
The soup should be a rose color. \Add bay leaf and simmer on low for about an hour.
Remove bay leaf before serving.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.