Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Danforth East Arts Fair!

Fall is almost upon us and if you need to stock up on your body butters, lip balms, soap and body lotion come and find me at the Danforth East Arts Fair this weekend!

Saturday and Sunday September 15 and 16 from 10am - 5pm.
Located at East Lynn Park on the Danforth (close to Woodbine) there will be 50+ artists, activities for the kids, music, food and more!

I hope to see you there :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Craft Show + New Product!

Happy Friday everyone!

Tomorrow, Saturday August 18th, I'll be at the Wychwood Art Barns from 9am - 3pm for a craft show!
Located at 601 Christie St. (at Bathurst and St. Clair), there is also a Farmer's market that runs until 1pm.

Come on out and grab your fresh berries, bread, coffee and lotion!

More details can be found here.

This will be my last show at the Wychwood Art Barns for the summer, but I have two great shows coming up in September.

September  7, 8 and 9th (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) I'll be at the Cabbagetown Craft Show and the very next weekend, September 15 and 16, I'll be at the Danforth East Arts Craft Show.
More information on those two shows coming soon!

And some exciting news - I am debuting my Bare Bums Diaper Cream!

A wonderfully light and moisturizing cream, this will make all baby bums happy and smooth.

Paraben, mineral oil, phthalate, SLS and preservative free this lotion also has the light scent of lavender to sooth chapped cheeks.

$10 for a 4.5oz jar.

I hope to see you tomorrow at the Wychwood Art Barns!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Review: Virgin River by Robyn Carr

Virgin River (Virgin River, #1)Virgin River by Robyn Carr
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

1.5 stars.


Books like this are the reason that everyone thinks romance novels are sappy, mediocre, clichéd, annoying stories full of he-men, obnoxious heroines, magic penises, magical babies, pregnant ladies, magic pregnant ladies, cute little towns, the majesty of nature and any other trite turn of phrase you can think of.

I picked this up as it had many positive reviews here and in general seems to be considered a classic modern contemporary. But no. I'm actually amazed at all the good press this book has. It's slow, cumbersome, the story never goes anywhere, the writing is mediocre and I never once felt connected to either of the main characters.

Aside from all of the tropes and romance novel clichés in this, it was just generally not that good. But slightly over halfway through it I sat there wondering, when is something going to happen?!

Our heroine, Mel, is whiny, annoying and a generally exasperating character. I understand that she is a grieving widow, but really, I couldn't feel bad for her or mourn with her. The choices she makes and her actions are laughable, and her attitude was not "spunky" or "quirky," but rather tiresome and rude.

Our hero, whose name started with a J (whose name I have already forgotten (Jake?). There were an obscene number of J names in this book), is a proto-typical alpha-male ex-marine he-man character. He can build things, paint things, buys flowers, owns a bar, washes the linens, has heart-to-heart talks with teenage boys, invests his money and just generally can do absolutely anything. He was B-O-R-I-N-G.

In fact, they both were. This entire book was. The secondary characters all came from the classic book Stereotypical Secondary Characters R' Us (the Country Living Edition).

I'm only giving this 1.5 stars because the writing was somewhat passable. And I've certainly also read worse things.

Disappointing. And I was really looking forward to discovering a new contemporary author with a long backlist. No such luck here.

View all my reviews

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Dance Break!

It's June!
Summer is almost officially here. Have an amazing weekend, and a Happy Father's Day :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Show this Saturday, new products and a late Friday Dance Break!

My second show of Spring will be this coming Saturday!

I'll be back at the Wychwood Art Barns at 601 Christie St. (Bathurst and St. Clair), Toronto from 9am - 3pm.
There is also a farmer's market that starts at 9am, so come on out for some delicious fresh farm fare and some great art!

As well, I have some great new products and soaps available now!

Lemongrass and Patchouli Hand & Body Lotion

Mango & Pomegranate Hand & Body Lotion

Rosemary & Grapefruit Organic Liquid Hand Soap

Ginger Fig Soap

Citrus and Coriander Soap

Come on out on Saturday and try some!

March and April were both busy months for me. So busy I even forgot all about my Friday Dance breaks! So, to tide you over until this Friday please take this as a late Friday-long-weekend dance break.

Today's dance break is a song that I cannot get out of my head.
It may be a glorified commercial for Converse shoes, but the song is fabulous.

Kimbra, A-Trak and Mark Foster (from Foster the People) in Warrior.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Dance Break loves the 90's!

My goodness! It's March already, and I've completely neglected my poor blog!

But not to worry - the Madstone Soapery is working on some new things for my Spring and Summer shows - and all the information will be here when it is available!

Your Friday Dance Break loves 90's tunes!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Recipe: Puttanesca Bianca

This is a repost of a blog post from 2010. Enjoy!

I bought a bag of dried pasta a few weeks ago, and there was a recipe on the back of the bag. Now, generally, these recipes are ridiculously simple and not always that good. They are, after all, on the back of a bag of pasta.

But, this pasta was Italian (!), with actual Italian writing on it. So, naturally, I thought, “well this recipe must be good.”

And you know what. It was!

The recipe itself is rather simple, although I jazzed it up a bit. And with the addition of the olives and the capers it turns into a Puttanesca sauce, only without the tomatoes. Hence, Puttanesca Bianca.
The puttanesca sauce is a rather recent Italian invention, in the Neapolitan style, dating from either the 1950’s or 1960’s. And “alla puttanesca” can be literally translated to “whoreish sauce.” The earliest written reference of this pasta sauce is from a 1961 novel Ferito a morte (The Mortal Wound) by Raffaele La Capria. However, the actual dish is said to have been the brainchild of Sandro Petti, a co-owner of an Ischian (Ischia is a volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples) restaurant. As the story goes, Petti was asked to make dinner for his friends one night, but found he had no food. So, he used what he had; “four tomatoes, a couple of capers, and some olives.”
The result: the pasta puttanesca! (source Do Bianchi)

So here is, with some Madstone additions the new and improved recipe for Puttanesca Bianca (c/o my bag of pasta).
Puttanesca Bianca
Olive Oil
1 small to medium onion- diced
6 cloves of garlic (or however much you like)
3-4 anchovy fillets- chopped up
½ Chili Pepper (or 1 tsp Chili flakes)
¼ cup pitted black olives
2 tbsp Capers
½ cup white wine
Spices to taste: Pepper*, oregano, basil, parsley
Pasta of choice
Parmesan Cheese
*You don’t need to add much salt to this recipe; the olives make it plenty salty.

1) Throw you olive oil into a pan. Toss a few pieces of onion in as well, when they start to sizzle slightly then you know you oil is hot enough. Through the rest of the onion in. Now, at this point I part ways from the traditional puttanesca; you see, I caramelize my onions. If you don’t have the extra 20minutes to ½ hour it will take to do this, just continue on. If, however, you do, then I would recommend caramelizing the onions. It really adds an amazing level of sweetness to the dish, which works really well with the spiciness of the chili and the saltiness of the olives and capers.

1a) To caramelize the onions: thrown them in your pan, with your olive oil, at a constant, low- medium heat. Toss some salt in on top. The salt with act as a moisture absorber, which should caramelize the onions faster. Then, wait. Toss the pan every once in a while – we don’t want the onions to burn, but if some of the pieces start to crisp up don’t worry. About 15minutes in (depending on how they are tasting) I toss some sugar into the pan as well. This will speed up the process.

2) Once your onions have been caramelized add in your garlic, chili and anchovies. If you are adding in any spices feel free to add half of them in at this point. Cook until the anchovy pieces have turned translucent and almost disappeared.

3) Once the anchovies have cooked out add in your olives and capers (I will sometimes thrown in another vegetable of choice here- add it in now. Broccoli, Rapini, Spinach, Zucchini, feel free to mix it up! But stick to one ingredient- this is a simple dish). Cook for about 5 minutes longer.

4) Add in your ½ cup of white wine (I like to eyeball this part), and your other herbs and pepper. I love adding fresh basil to my pasta. But dried oregano will work. As will fresh or dried parsley. Cook for another 20ish minutes, or until the white wine has cooked out.

5) Mix in your cooked pasta (anything will work with this sauce, as it isn’t really very ‘saucy.’ Rather, this will make a drier kind of pasta sauce). Grate in some Parmesan cheese and enjoy!
If you wanted to make this a more traditional sauce, I would not caramelize the onions, add in a can of whole Italian tomatoes (dice the whole tomatoes before you throw them in), and some red wine, instead of white, for a different variation on this dish.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dance Break and a Madstone Update

Well, I completely forgot about my dance break this Friday - it's been crazy busy lately!

I'm busy working on some great new products for Madstone, as well as some fabulous new scents - including a face scrub, a face soap bar, room and linen sprays and a Ginger Fig lotion!

Also, a new website is in the works and should be live soon! It will make ordering easier and will debut a new look for Madstone.

In the meantime, enjoy some cheese with Tim Minchin!