Sesame (fake) chicken with fennel and orange salad

I'm back with another recipe challenge from Canadian Living. This month's recipe is sesame chicken with fennel and orange salad, and it was delicious! I did most of the prep while Hannah was sleeping, then threw it all together right before we were ready to eat. I used meatless chicken breasts to make this meal vegetarian, but I think next time I'll marinate the "chicken" overnight to help it absorb the flavours even more.

It was my first time working with fresh fennel, although Adam uses fennel seeds in his cooking often, and I had to Google how to prepare it. The good news? It was easy.

The salad was filling enough for dinner, and it was still nice and crispy as a leftover the next day. I wasn't sure about the orange slices at first, but the recipe would not be the same without them (so good!). Find the recipe here and try it for yourself.

This post was sponsored by Canadian Living. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Next up: new floors

The next big project we hope to tackle around here is replacing the flooring in our kitchen, living and dining rooms (oh, how I've dreamed of this day). All three are connected, so using the same flooring should help our tiny main floor feel more cohesive and - one can dream! - larger.

After much waffling, we've decided to go with a cork floating floor. We love the hardwood we installed upstairs, but we want to do something different with the main floor. And while I had my heart set on wide plank white oak, my fears about how the two floors would play together kept me from pulling the trigger. Cork, on the other hand, is decidedly different and completely complimentary (I swear the alliteration was not intentional). Plus, it's sustainable, hypoallergenic, quiet, WARM, and resistant to insects, mold and mildew. Our main floor sits over an insulated, but unheated, crawl space and the cheap laminate floors we have now always feel cold to the touch. Warm is good.

Anyway, we ordered a huge pile of samples and narrowed it down to the three choices shown above (I've been working with this company and so far their customer service has been amazing). I actually love all three options, but the sample on the right (middle sample in the top photo) is the clear winner. I just love the pattern and think it will be even better on a larger scale. To help you picture it, here are some pretty rooms with cork floors:






I really didn't know there were so many options.

After we install the floors, we're planning to seal them with a high quality polyurethane to ensure they're completely waterproof and extra durable. And that means we need to set aside a good chunk of time to get this job done. We've got a lot going on over the next couple of months, but I've got my fingers crossed for late June/early July. With the way things have been going lately, I'm pretty sure the time will fly by!


Bathroom floor update + Hannah's first swimming lesson

Nearly two years ago, we started laying hardwood floors upstairs. Now we can finally call the job complete with the addition of one little strip of oak between the hallway and the bathroom.

But Amelia, I thought you were putting fancy new tile in your bathroom.What happened? Also, why are your floors so dusty?

Right before Adam repaired the subfloor in the bathroom, we discovered that the joists in our old house are spaced too far apart for tile (over time, the amount of flex in the floor could cause the mortar beneath the tiles - and the tiles themselves - to crack).  Boo. The linoleum is in perfectly good condition and it wasn't glued down, so we made the decision to just peel it back and re-install after fixing the subfloor. It can't compete with the beautiful hex tile I wanted, but it's neutral, inoffensive and it didn't cost us anything. Sometimes that's just how it goes.

While it doesn't make for a very exciting post, I wanted to close the loop on our bathroom plans (we're still hoping to tile the tub surround this summer, so there's that to look forward to). To liven things up, how about a short video of Hannah from her first swimming lesson? She had a great time and collapsed into tears on the pool deck when it was time to leave. Just wait until she sees my brother's pool in Florida!


What's your go-to travel bag?

In about two weeks, Hannah and I will be relaxing in sunny Florida with my brother and his family. Adam is staying at home, but don't feel too badly for him - he's headed to the UK with his band in May. As much as I'm looking forward to the warmth and sunshine - and playing with my nieces! - I'm totally stressed about the actual travel. It will be Hannah's first plane ride...and she'll be sitting on my lap. We've booked a direct flight, but still*. So, if you have any tips on in-flight entertainment for a 20-month old, please share!


To calm my nerves, I bought a new bag for the plane ride :) I'm hoping to carry as much on the plane as possible, in as little luggage as possible. Hannah's still in diapers and I figured a large tote could rise to the challenge of purse/diaper bag/snack cart/entertainment centre-in-one. Plus, it leaves my hands free for airport toddler-wrangling.

Can you guess which one I chose? I'll give you a hint: Banana Republic is offering 40% off your purchase and shipping is free if you spend more than $50. That would be #1. Aside from the fact that I've been lusting over large brown leather totes for awhile, I like that it has an attached wallet - perfect for passports, cards, keys and lipstick.

Here's a tentative list of what I'm planning to stuff the rest of the bag with:

  • Diapers, wipes, diaper cream and a portable change pad
  • Extra clothing (for Hannah of course)
  • Fully-charged iPad + headphones (the fully-charged part is important)
  • Books
  • Paper, crayons, markers and stickers
  • Small wooden blocks and a drawstring bag (Hannah loves stacking things, just as much as she'll love putting the blocks into the bag and taking them out again)
  • Snacks! We love snacks!
  • Sippy cup/bottle
  • Muslin blanket

Anything you'd add? Words of encouragement are appreciated too :)

*I should note that while I'm stressed, I'm not stressed enough to spend $650 on another seat, you know?

UPDATE: A huge thank you to everyone who has commented or messaged me with tips and suggestions! Every single one has been incredibly helpful (totally would have forgot to pack an extra shirt for myself!), so thank you, thank you, thank you! 


Before & After: DIY stairs


I promised you some proper "after" shots of the stairs, and here they are. We're pretty excited about this one.

After much deliberation, we decided not to install skirt boards, partly because it was a lot easier to just skip that step, but also because my inspiration (the layout is almost identical to our house) didn't have skirt boards and I liked the look.

We capped the ends of the baseboard in the hallway to "finish" it, and will be adding baseboard at the base of the stairs after we install new flooring (can you guess which project is next on our list?).

Much improved, non? Even if poor Henry lost his sleeping spot :)


New stairs, nearly there

Guys, we have stairs! Like, proper, permanent stairs!

Adam and I cut and installed the new treads and risers over the weekend, which was surprisingly straightforward, though not without its hiccups. Our walls took a bit of a beating, too:

Funnily enough, my "scribe" (as in, a pencil taped to a few shims) ended up being the most important tool in our arsenal and ensured that the stairs would sit perfectly flush with the walls.

We still have some paint touch-ups to do, but we're inching ever closer to a finished house! I'm tempted to remind you of the 'before', but I think I'll save that for a proper before & after post - hopefully later this week!


Waiting for spring

We're in the middle of a big storm here today, so yesterday I stopped into the grocery store (and the liquor store) for supplies. I left the grocery store with a couple of small plants, knowing that I had some pots at home in need of replenishment. 

"We're expecting a big storm, and you're buying plants," said the cashier at the liquor store. Um, yes. All the better to brighten your day when you're stuck indoors because - even though it's almost April - it's STILL SNOWING.

I always forget to water the plant in the guest room...which is how the old plant died.

On the contrary, the plant that used to live in my DIY gilded vase died from over-watering. Good thing the new plants only cost $3.49.

It's amazing how much life one little plant adds to a room. When the storm finally clears, I think I'll buy a couple more so I can try this project.

P.S. Adam's band, GLORY GLORY, launched the pre-sale of their new EP, SO LONG, today. Along with the EP, they're selling t-shirts, art and other merchandise in support of their upcoming shows in the UK. Feel free to visit their website and make a purchase, if you're so inclined. I know they would very much appreciate your support :)
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