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The Best List, by Stephanie

This list is inspired by the magnificent Danielle Laporte’s Best Lists vol 1 and 2. She’s amazing, and her list is more focused & grown-up than mine, but these are the things that I love. Expect more installments in the future!

The New York City Public Library

Apple Trailers. Glossy, high quality anticipation. Bite-sized movies. Entertainment at its finest?

Yummy Earth lollipops. Pomegranate, strawberry, green apple, grape, cherry, blueberry. 22 calories. Big flavour.

Voluspa candles. Preferably Maison Blanc collection, 12 oz, in Pink Citron or Saijo Persimmon.

The 4 Minute Workout. Gets your heart beating, metabolism working, muscles toned.

Mason jars. To be used as juice cups, wine glasses, candy/spice/sugar cube storage, vases, change jars..

Netflix. Cheap, legal, high quality. Syncs automatically from my computer to my phone. Good selection + growing.

Exercise balls = desk chairs. Balance, core exercise, bouncy bouncy fun!

Moleskine notebooks. I use them for everything from food logs to recipe books to journals to scrapbooks.

Cubano sandwiches. Sauteed mushrooms, mashed avocado, garlic mayonnaise, melted Monterey Jack.

St. Ives Clear Pore Cleanser + Tea Tree OilBlemishes be gone! I’ve never had clearer skin in my life.

Everyday Food magazine. Inspiration to cook at home!

Holiday Gift Guide 2010: Men in Your Life

Alright! Now that it’s officially December, I am definitely allowed to start daydreaming and brainstorming about what to buy or make for my loved ones. While I believe that the best gifts are thoughtful ones, especially if you create them yourself, I realize that making presents for everyone on your list could be a bit time consuming, especially around exam season!

..Which is why I’ve put together a little list of things you could purchase for any guy in your life: brother, father, lover. These items really spark my giving spirit: they’re all beautifully made and would (hopefully!) make the receiver’s day just a little bit brighter every time they were used. Voila:

Music by Andrew Zuckerman – $31.50

Bormioli Wine Decanter – $59

Cotton corduroy shirt from Banana Republic – $69.50

iPod Nano 6th Generation – $159

Leather bound journal – $23

Bodum Bistro juicer – $69.95

Personalized M&Ms – from $8.49

Burberry Cashmere Check scarf – $335

Ralph Lauren Big Pony Colognes – $50 each

Plus anything that pertains specifically to the man you’re buying for. For example, my Dad loves to read, so maybe I’ll get him the latest Grisham or Connelly thriller. Or an universal remote for the flatscreen he’s thinking of buying. Or a really, really nice pen. For my boyfriend? Vintage comic books or gourmet coffee or a wooden guitar pick. Choose something personal and awesome!

Okay, that’s all for my inspiration. I’d love to hear what you’re thinking of buying for the men in your lives! Let me know, if you want.

I’ll be posting a list for the women in your life soon, so stay tuned. :)

xoxo,




Apple Pie

A word up front: this pie is VEGAN.

Ooh, big scary words. Them’s fightin’ words.

Let me assure you, however, that this is one of the most delicious pies I have ever consumed, ever. Period. Vegan or not, it was marvellous, delicious, outstanding. I ate it warm out of the oven, giggling away in delight. Om nom. Nom.

So, why vegan? Well, for one thing, the boyfriend is lactose intolerant. And for another, why the heck not? I’ve been trying to move myself in the vegan direction for quite a while now, with little success (Damn you cheese. Why do you have to be so irreplaceable?) but I’ve been perusing some fantastic websites lately, like Vegan Dad and Vegan Yum Yum that are giving me tons of delicious inspiration. I may be throwing some more awesome vegan recipes at you in the very near future, so if you’re a squeamish carnivore: watch out! Rawr.

But for now, please just make this wonderful pie.

I used two recipes in hybrid: Joy the Baker’s With Love, Apple Pie for the apple prep + Savvy Vegetarian’s Vegan Pie Crust

I rolled out my pie crust with a wine bottle, since my mother refused to buy me a rolling pin at the beginning of the year since, when she was in university, she rolled things out with a wine bottle. Granted, I think her wine bottle would have been a) empty and b) had the label removed. Since my wine bottle had neither, it is a miracle that this pie turned out at all. I was so afraid that at any second its cheap twist-on lid would somehow pop off and turn my pastry red..and winey..

Here we go!

First things first: obtain some apples. I know that so many apple pie recipes specify not to use McIntosh apples, but since they were accidentally all I bought, and since I was fighting a cold and just wanted some apple pie, damnit, I decided to risk potential mushiness and go ahead with my macs. Verdict: not mushy! Delish! I don’t know if that was just good luck on my part, but I loved the consistency of the pie using these babies.

Here I am! Looking my best, as usual..peeling some apples.

Ta-da! Yummo. Now slice those babies up into small, equal slices.

Like so. Now go ahead and toss them with 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup each of brown and white sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp salt.

‘OOH, HEAVEN IS A PLACE ON EARTH’

Pause here to eat several slices. Consider the possibility of giving up on the pie entirely and just eating these.

Fine. We will continue. Reluctantly.

Now here is where I differed from Joy the Baker’s recipe: she uses a cool technique of caramelizing the apple juices with butter, which I was too exhausted to attempt. Instead, I just mixed the apples with a couple tbsp of flour (I didn’t have cornstarch, my grocery store seems to be, for all intents and purposes, hiding it from me, along with cornmeal. Both are probably hiding together in the same aisle, giggling as I walk past for the fortieth time..) and let them hang out while I made the pie crust. Which was awesome. And easy.

Around this time, preheat the oven to 425 and put a cookie sheet inside! This is a special trick I just recently learned from Joy the Baker. I think it helps to cook the pie from the bottom as well as the top. Who knows. All I know is, it works.

For the pastry: I didn’t have Earth Balance, so I used Becel Vegan margarine. Same diff. I stuck 1 cup of it in the freezer for about 1/2 an hour, and chilled my 2 1/2 cups flour in the freezer as well. That’s what the recipe said to do!

Basically all you need to do for this recipe is mix the margarine with the flour until its crumbly, then add a few tbsp of cold water until it all sticks together and you can form a ball with your hands. Then plop it down onto the floured counter, whip out your wine bottle and go at it. Unfortunately, I did not take photos of me rolling out the pie crust with a wine bottle. I will leave that up to your imagination.

PRESTO!

Fill the pie shell with apples and any juices, roll out the top crust, put it on top, crimp the edges so they look pretty.

Then cut some vents in the top. I was feeling lovey dovey so I cut out hearts.

..It sort of ended up looking like a creepy mask. I was okay with that. Mainly, it was cute.

Guys, it was really cute! Okay??

I sprinkled some sugar on the top, but didn’t have a brush to brush it with egg wash or water. I was okay with that too.

Now take the baking sheet out of the preheated oven, put the pie on top of it, put it back in. For 45-55 min. Warning: your entire house will start to smell absolutely divine. Resist the urge to yank the pie out of the oven and eat it as is, immediately. I promise, it’s worth the wait.

Ooh la la.

My apartment seriously smelled like apples and cinnamon for like 3 days.

So delicious.

The pastry is delicious and flaky, the apple juices were bubbling, and the apples actually held their form, despite being McIntoshes.

YUMMO.

Okay, I’m off to have my eighth slice.

I would also like to say: I just forgot how to spell eighth. Thank goodness for spell check. I don’t know how the cavemen did it.

xoxo,

 

 

Top 10 Free Mac Apps for New Mac Owners

So you just bought your first Mac! Congratulations! Welcome to a world of faster, more intuitive computing. I know you’ll like it here. As they say: “once you go Mac, you never go back”. (Do they say that? Did I just make that up?) It was my Mom (hater of technology, her mantra is “I LOVE TECHNOLOGY” to keep herself from going insane struggling with it) who turned us all onto Macs: first by buying a laptop that she found easier to use. Then she added a desktop. Then my Dad, catching on slowly, bought himself one too. After a while, my Mom passed on her desktop to my sisters and I, and got a faster one, and then I got my computer for school. What can I say, we’re an Apple family (no iPhones though). Anyway, I have never looked back. I remember the days of struggling endlessly with our desktop computer, which is now a dinosaur, and I can assure you I will never return to those days. I do understand, though, that Macs are more expensive by far. I would argue, also, that they are better for battery, longevity and included software. It’s obviously a difficult tradeoff, but I’m not here to tell you whether to buy a Mac or a PC (these guys can do that for me :P), I’m here to tell you what to do once you have one!

The early days with your new computer are an adventure. From the minute you turn it on you’re greeted by colour and sound and shiny things. What to do?? Here are my top picks for the most useful free Mac applications on the interwebs. I’m sharing them today because so many of my friends don’t know about some of them. And they should know of them, because they’re just so damned useful! Enjoy!

1. Caffeine. Ever have your screen peskily dim every time you try to watch something on Youtube or read an article online? Well, rather than have to touch the trackpad every time it dims, just download Caffeine and have it running on startup. That way, when you click it on (it is a tiny icon in your top menu bar) it will keep your screen lit up until you turn it off. This little app is one I use many times daily, it’s one of the most useful on my computer.

2. Todos. Although you can set up your Applications folder to appear in your Apple dock, I also find this app to be very helpful. By pressing ctrl+option+command+t, all your applications pop up in a handy little window, and you can click whichever you want. Useful for people who don’t like to keep their docks on the screen or don’t want their applications in their docks.

3. Newsfire. Whether you’re an avid fashion-blog reader, or a CNN junkie, Newsfire is a great, easy-to-use RSS feeder application. I prefer it to Google Reader because it can be accessed just from my desktop and not a website, and any feed can be added extremely easily. It’s nothing really fancy, just a simple, straightforward reader.

4. Appcleaner. An easy way to uninstall Mac applications. Although uninstalling is fairly simple to do without the app, Appcleaner does a good job of collecting all the files associated with an app. That way, you never miss any, and your computer doesn’t get clogged with useless files.

5. Mojo. So wonderful if you live in a university residence or apartment building. It’s a program that allows you to share your music & movies with all other Mojo users in the vicinity, when they’re online. It’s fast and easy, and it’s a great way to discover new bands and movies.

6. Tweetie. Great for anyone on twitter. They say the free version includes ads, but personally I get one ad every three weeks or so. This application, again, is simple, but it’s one of my favourites. It’s sleek, easy to use and provides all the features you would need. I also tried out Tweetdeck, but I have loved Tweetie more than any other twitter application.

7. Daisy Disk. An app that lets you scan your computer and zero in on any areas of high memory usage. This allows you to get rid of things you don’t need, and make sure your computer stays happy. It says only a fifteen day trial, but I am still able to use it..it just says ‘unregistered” on it, but still works fine.

8. Keymaster. If you’re anything like me, you have a bazillion passwords for strange accounts all over the internet. And they’re all different. And it’s confusing! So here’s the solution: download Keymaster, put a really hard password on it, and store all your passwords within. Perfect, and more secure than a password notebook.

9. Evernote. Obviously, if you don’t have an Evernote account this app won’t be useful to you. But you should have an Evernote account!! As I mentioned in this post, Evernote is such a wonderful system for syncing all the cool things you find on the internet or in your day-to-day life into one giant ‘notebook’. I use my Evernote mostly for collecting recipes, ideas on the go or inspiration. Definitely check it out!

10. Quinn. Basically a prettier version of Tetris. :)

So, my dear new Mac lovers, go forth with these ten useful apps for your new computers. Live long, and prosper!

Feedback?

What do you think? Any apps I should know about? Please let me know if there’s an app you just can’t live without!!

xoxo, S.


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