Fat Tuesday

My facebook and twitter followers may recall me talking a lot about the recipe I tried on Shrove Tuesday this year. I was shocked at how easy it was to make pancakes completely from scratch that were the fluffliest, tastiest flap jacks I'd ever had! Nice knowing you, Aunt Jemima! They were so easy and delicious that we've made Fat Tuesday a weekly event in our house ever since. Three pancake dinners (and extra pounds) later, I figured I couldn't not share the recipe here with you.

Disclaimer: Side effects may include blueberry tongue, batter butt, or maple syrupriosis.

Pancakes USA Stylie
via Jamie Oliver

3 large eggs
1/2 cup plain flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk
pinch of salt

First separate the eggs, putting the whites into one bowl and the yolks into another.
Add the flour, baking powder and milk to the yolks and mix to a smooth thick batter.
Whisk the whites with the salt until they form stiff peaks. Call me lazy, but I could only achieve this by whisking with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes.
Fold into the batter – it is now ready to use.

Heat a good non-stick pan on a medium heat. Pour some of your batter into the pan and fry for a couple of minutes until it starts to look golden and firm. At this point sprinkle your chosen flavouring on to the uncooked side before loosening with a spatula and flipping the pancake over. Continue frying until both sides are golden.

It makes about 6 medium-sized pancakes. Mike and I like to make 4 with blueberries and 2 with chocolate chips for dessert. Served with some breakfast sausages on the side, it's plenty for two!

Drumroll please...

First of all, I want to thank everyone who entered the contest! I was completely blown away by the response and I am so grateful for all of your excellent feedback! Judging by what you had to say, you'll be happy to hear that I have a bunch of new full and half aprons currently in the works. I also have been putting a lot of thought into smaller items, such as coin purses and pouches, as well as table linens. Knowing I have your support definitely helps get the gears in motion. I'm looking forward to another great year for Dear Edna!

Now, for the moment you've all been waiting for. The winner of a $35 Dear Edna gift certificate is....

AMBRE ROSE of Portland, Oregon! Congratulations! I will contact you shortly with the details on how to claim your prize... and perhaps a few questions about Portland, as I'll be visiting there this summer. :)

Thanks again to all the participants! I hope you visit my little blog and shop again soon! xo

Susie Homemaker

I spent last week and the majority of my weekend buried under a pile of receipts doing my taxes. I never understood the horror of income taxes until this year, my first year as a business owner. Of course while one side of my brain is jumbled with numbers, the other side is going into creative withdrawal. So to keep myself sane, I gave myself mini breaks to play Susie Homemaker. 

Today I made the scrumptious morsel above. It's called a Magic Blondie (hard for me not to try based on the name alone), which is basically a really yummy muffin topped with chocolate chips, cranberries, coconut and walnuts. I had a little extra batter at the end and made a few cookies with it. Mike voted the cookies the best, but I think the muffins are more guilt-free. You can't go wrong with chocolate for breakfast!

And here are the beginnings of my very first crochet project. Learning to crochet was one of my new year's resolutions and I quite honestly thought it was one that would never get done. But thanks to a recent shopping trip with my mom, an experienced crocheter, who helped me pick out a pattern and wool, I couldn't wait to dive in. After a few false starts, like figuring out what the heck a ch-3 space is and why my yarn kept tangling, I'm well on my way. Although I'm sure my stitches could be more even and my pace could be quicker, these come with experience, and I'm just happy to see a real pattern taking shape. I'm proud of how it's turning out so far.

It's such a relief to start a new week with my taxes finally behind me, Monday's breakfast ready and a new craft underway. I also have over 20 yards of new fabric washed, dryed and ready to be cut into beautiful new Spring aprons! Yay Spring!

I'll be back on Tuesday to reveal the big winner of the $35 Dear Edna gift certificate. If you haven't entered yet, you only have until Tuesday at noon! Contest details here.

For She's a Jolly Good Fellow!

                                                           image via TwoSugarBabies

[This contest is now CLOSED! The winner was announced here! Thanks to everyone that participated.]

Today Dear Edna turns one! Can you believe it? A year ago today, I opened the virtual doors of my Etsy shop and let in a world of new experiences, emotions, dreams and possibilities. I'm kind of in disbelief and at a loss for words about it. So for now I'll just say this, it's been a seriously amazing year and I couldn't have done it without all of you, my fantastic fans, family and friends! Your support means the world to me and to show my appreciation and gratitude, I'm hosting my very first giveaway!

The lucky winner will receive a $35 gift certificate to Dear Edna! To apply, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me (1) what your favourite Dear Edna item has been this year and why, or (2) anything new you would like to see for sale in Dear Edna in the future. An answer to both questions will get two entries in the contest.

Contest ends on Tuesday, March 29th at 12pm (EST), which also happens to be my bloggiversary. Fancy that! The winner will be chosen at random and announced here. I will also contact the winner via email, if it is provided. If the winner does not respond within one week, another winner will be chosen at random. International participants welcome.

Good luck!

E xo

Erin Go Bragh!

Today is a good day.

There's the obvious, it's St. Patrick's Day, an especially festive day when you're Irish, your name is Erin, and you look great in green.

Second, it was officially the warmest day of 2011! I took full advantage by taking old Lucy (my bike) out for her first spin of the year and it was glorious! I love  my bike.

First stop, the Cake and Loaf Bakery, to drop off an apron that will be raffled off at their fundraiser this Saturday. My fingers are crossed for you.

Next stop, the mail box, to send off my last two tote orders from February. That's right, February! It's been a busy month and a half. With those behind me, I can look forward to doing the many things I've been neglecting, like cleaning the house and doing my taxes. Haha! But seriously, I'm really excited to restock the shop again and work on some new projects I've had tinkering around in my head for quite some time now.

But tonight... tonight I will take a much-needed night off and celebrate Spring, hard work, and heritage with a tall pint of green beer! Happy St. Patty's Day everyone!

In Mourning

My heart continued to break a little more every time a new picture or video of the devastation in Japan was released over the weekend. I lived in Osaka for a year and a half, so this one really hits home for me, literally. I will never forget the very small earthquake I experienced when I was there. It was so scary to see the ground beneath my feet rise in waves! Just the aftershocks of this one were far stronger than that one. I can't even fathom it! Thankfully all of my friends were far enough from the affected areas, so I assume they are safe, but of course my heart goes out to the thousands of victims and their families. None of us can possibly imagine what they are going through.

Canadians can make donations to the relief efforts through the following organizations:
Canadian Red Cross
Care Canada
Meet the Children
World Vision

We love you Japan! You're in our thoughts and prayers!

Here are some of my favourite shots of Japan in happier times...

Meet Your Maker: Melanie MacDonald

Melanie MacDonald is another artist I discovered at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition a few years back. She's also a regular contributor to the art sale at the AGH, which helped me follow the progress of her work and kept me hooked, so to speak. In fact, every time Mike and I discover one her paintings for sale, we hem and haw at length over purchasing one, mostly because we can't decide which one we like best! As you can probably predict, I love her use of vintage and everyday objects as her subjects, her use of bright colours, and the realism in her work. After a short hiatus I am glad to see Melanie back painting and showing again. She is part of a group exhibition at the newly opened gallery, Hamilton Artists Inc., until March 12th. And I am delighted she has agreed to answer a few questions for us. Consider it background information for you to impress your friends with this Friday at Art Crawl. Take it away, Melanie...

WHO are you? Tell me a bit about yourself and your work.
I am a painter, living in downtown St.Catharines. This is my hometown and I love it. I went to university here and got involved with the Niagara Artists' Centre as a student and have stayed involved to the present day as a volunteer. My paintings are photo-based and my interest has been capturing or representing light in paint. My partner, Steve, and I are really into vintage stuff/kitsch, and in turn, my paintings are often made of objects from a different era. I have painted a series of dirty dishes, ceramic figurines, vintage board games and flea market scenes.

WHAT inspires you?
Cast-away or forgotten stuff.

WHERE do you work? Describe your workspace.
Two years ago, we bought the small 4-unit apartment building we have been living in for the last 10 years. We take up the whole upper floor and about half of it is studio space. The light is fantastic up here, the floor is pink and cornflower yellow tiles and the walls are celery green.

WHEN do you feel must successful? frustrated?
I feel most successful when I quickly rough-in a painting at break-neck speed and most frustrated putting the painfully slow finishing touches on one.

WHY do you do what you do?
I guess it's because I can.

HOW do you do what you do?
I owe a lot of my success, or ability to do what I do, to an extremely supportive creative community that exists in St. Catharines. Also, having one dependable or stable income helps make my career choice possible. We consider ourselves to be THINKS -- a two, half-income, no kids kind of family.

Describe your creative process and/or your typical work day.
I like the 9-5 kind of work day. I juggle laundry, dishes and meal preparation and flip back and forth between these tasks and my painting. Certainly by dinner time I am ready to get out of the house for a bit to get some exercise. We play basketball twice a week, and I try to get out to the gym/pool on the other days. As there is a cluster of artists living in the neighbourhood, and the NAC is just around the corner, we are never at a loss for things to do socially. Steve is the director at NAC, so free time, by default, is usually spent on art-related stuff.

Thanks so much, Melanie, for taking the time to answer my questions and give us all a sneak peak into your creative life and process! Your home/studio sounds absolutely amazing and I love your term "THINKS".

For more information on Melanie MacDonald, please visit her website here. In addition to her exhibit at Hamilton Artists Inc., as mentioned above, she will also be participating in the NAC fundraiser "Accomplishing Small Feats" on April 2nd.

All photos by Melanie MacDonald.

Hamilton Happenings: March 2011

                                                                                                                               Photo by Dan Johnston

The temps are rising, the days are getting longer, and it's time to break out of hibernation mode! Easier said than done, I know, but the city of Hamilton is doing their part to help by planning a bunch of fun events over the next few weeks. I challenge you to attend at least one. Let your city surprise you.

Library Book Sale: Feb. 28 - March 5 / City Centre (lower level) / 9-6 / Even though I have piles of unread books, this event is really hard to resist. There are literally thousands of books for sale at unbeatable prices (fiction $1, non-fiction 2 for $5). I went yesterday and scored 6 novels and a great sewing reference book! The tables are continually restocked throughout each day, so it's worth it to keep checking back. All proceeds go to the Hamilton Public Library and Soroptimist International.

Ideal Home & Garden Show: March 3-6 / The Careport Centre, 270 Longwood Rd. S / $7 online / If you're thinking about improving your home or garden this year, it sounds like this event is perfect for you! They will have 3 fully decorated show homes on site, a home decor stage and a food stage featuring celebrity guests (including Mary Dobs from Cityline!), 3000 sq. feet of landscaping and gardens, and hundreds of exhibitors!

Art Crawl: March 11th / James St. North / 5-11ish / If you live in Hamilton and don't already know what this is, shame on you. There's not much out yet about what will be featured this month, but keep checking back here for the usual update.

Bake and Dough: March 19th / Finian Films, 211 Locke St. S. / 3-1 / $10 / Cake+Loaf Bakery will be hosting a celebration of local food and live music, supporting the Juravinski Cancer Centre and Cake+Loaf Bakery. There will be a bake sale, children's activities, a cake-decorating competition, and live music! There will also be a raffle, where you will have the opportunity to win an apron made by yours truly!

Music: The Casbah has an impressive lineup of shows this month, three bands in particular that are in constant rotation around our house: March 6 Plants and Animals / March 8 Yukon Blonde  / March 26 Born Ruffians. I'm also seriously interested in checking out the classic rock tribute band, Benny and the Jets, on March 25th. Who's with me?

And if you haven't been to the newly renovated library and farmer's market, I highly recommend a trip there as well. In my opinion they are shining examples of the positive upswing this city has been heading on lately. 

As usual, this is by no means a complete list of the events happening in the city, but merely what has come across my radar that I would personally be interested in attending. If you have any events you would like to add, by all means leave details in the comments.

Special Delivery



"Canada Post."

'What did I buy 3 weeks ago and forget about?'

Knock knock.

Mailman hands me an unusually flat 8 x 11 box. I read the label in confusion.

'Does it say what I think it says? It's from Sycamore Street Press!'

I couldn't have ripped that thing open any faster! And what came tumbling out was a stationary lover's dream: a heaping stack of the most beautiful letterpressed cards and prints I've ever seen, a gift for contributing to the Sycamore Street Press Blog a few months back.

Aren't they gorgeous? I was stunned and touched at such a thoughtful and generous gesture. I certainly won't have to buy a greeting card for the rest of the year and I'm already mentally framing and hanging that La Vie en Rose print. Thank you SO so much Eva! It made my day! xo