Thursday, December 29, 2011

get back to your roots

I love all the decadent feasts at Christmas but there comes a point when I just can't stand the thought of another meal rich in butter, creams or gravies.   This Root Vegetable Tagine has all the heartiness you want in a winter supper but without the heaviness or fat of the meals we've all been indulging in lately.  And if you're anything like me, you could do with a heaping plate of veg to counteract all those sweets and snacks. The preserved lemon along with the fresh herbs you toss in at the end give it a touch of summery brightness - and who doesn't want that when the wind chill is -21? The Spicy Chickpea garnish is definitely worth making - you may find yourself nibbling on it before it reaches your plate.

A big bonus with this meal is that it gave me a way to use one of the turnips from my most recent Real Foods Fredericton kitchen box.  I don't shun many foods but I've always passed on turnip.  But I figured I'd try it in this dish as I could easily pick it out if necessary.  Turns out that much like my parsnip conversion last winter, preparation makes all the difference. And like parsnips, the turnips are a great vehicle for cumin, coriander, turmeric and fresh herbs in this dish. 

A couple of notes on the recipe - I used vegetable broth instead of water and threw in a cinnamon stick because I couldn't imagine a tagine without it.  As well, the recipe neglects to tell you how much lemon you should simmer with the lemon juice and salt, I used one small thinly sliced lemon which seemed to work.  If you wanted to do a gluten-free option, you could easily swap out the couscous for a bed of quinoa.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


OK, technically #bringitdowntown was aimed at getting people into the heart of the city for pre-Christmas shopping but just because Christmas is over doesn't mean you should stop hitting our local Downtown Fredericton businesses.   If you're looking to recuperate from your turkey coma, catch up with friends or just get out of the house, why not grab a glass of wine at Corked?

Last week having survived this and then this, Caleb and I decided to spend what was left of my Downtown dollars to toast the season at Fredericton's newest wine bar.  A great addition to the re-energized block of Regent between Queen and King, Corked is both stylish and cozy; equally suited for a glamourous private function or for a quiet glass of wine with a friend.

My partner in crime for the night is an avowed white wine drinker so I eschewed my usual winter red in favour of Santa Rita's 120 Sauvignon Blanc. The Chilean winery earned the distinction of Wine & Spirits magazine's Winery of the Year in 2010 and the fruity and fresh 120 Sauvignon Blanc earns pretty consistent raves for a great white at a good price point. I only found this out later, all I knew at the time was that it was a great burst of summer on a cold winter's night. 

And because Caleb is a bit of a history buff, no night out would be complete without a little history lesson.  So I was not as surprised as you might think when he announced while reading the label:  
 "This is revolutionary memento wine!"

Here's the story from the winery:

According to legend, 120 patriots, exhausted after a long, hard battle during the fight for Chile’s independence, reached the land belonging to Santa Rita. On that fateful night in 1814, these forces of liberty found refuge in the estate cellars. Today, within these same cellars, our award-winning 120 wines are crafted to honor their heroic character. 

Revolution may not be on your agenda but why not cap off a day of post-Christmas Downtown deal-hunting with a stop by Corked?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

it snowed

Meaghan Smith's It Snowed has been in pretty constant rotation around my house since mid-November.  Like her debut album The Cricket's Orchestra (which earned her the Best New Artist Juno), It Snowed is playful, nostalgic and charming. So of course I jumped at the chance to see her in concert at the Charlotte Street Art Centre just a few days before Christmas.  If you don't own The Cricket's Orchestra and It Snowed, get yourself over to iTunes and remedy this immediately!

Meaghan Smith by Heather Allaby on Grooveshark
It was a perfect winter's night with a light dusting of snow and the converted school auditorium at the Centre was a cozy setting for Meaghan's sweet and funny stories and songs. Was there a dry eye after her adorable story about her grandpa?  She even gave a shout-out to Fredericton shopping (ahem, #bringitdowntown!)

Can't imagine a better way to kick off a week of holiday celebrations! Thanks for a great evening, Meaghan!

(Oh, and her fetching chapeau is courtesy of Oh Dina! you'll want to check out those creations!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

christmas movies

Phew! now that I've finally wrapped up Christmas performances onstage and behind-the-scenes I can finally settle in to my own holiday celebrations- catching up with friends, spending time with family and lots of cider,egg nog or hot cocoa while watching Christmas movies and planning menus, wrapping presents and finishing last-minute gifts.  Last year (when apparently I had more time to write about such things) I put together a list of my 12 films of Christmas.  Not sure I'll make it through all of them over the holidays but here is a look back at my top picks:

I'd love to know: what are your must-see Christmas films? 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

stick to your knitting

If you've been following this blog for long you know from posts like this and this that I love knitting.  And while my schedule this fall hasn't allowed for a lot of time to pick up the needles, there is no way I could bring the love downtown without a stop at Yarns on York

From classic worsted to luxurious hand-dyed yarns,owner Trish Campbell has a treasure trove of inspiration in store for shoppers.  New shipments arrive regularly so there's always a reason to pop in.

No visit to Yarns on York is complete without saying "Hi!" to Aubrey.
So how did I end up spending my Downtown Fredericton dollars? As delicious as all the brightly coloured skeins were, I opted for this luxurious madelinetosh in french grey.   I've been knitting a lot of lace projects this year but I'm thinking something a little different for this one.  This will be a great New Year's project to pass the long January evenings....

Monday, November 21, 2011

deck the halls

If owner Janice Lapointe McLaughlin would let me I would probably take up permanent residence in Savour Decor. Open just over a year, the shop on Queen Street is a relative newcomer to Downtown Fredericton but it's fast become one of my favourite spots. Full of classic pieces with a hint of whimsy, this is a store that proves that a cozy and inviting space doesn't mean sacrificing glamour.

Vintage-inspired pieces and a warm welcome await you at this charming downtown boutique
Helping Janice create that magical blend of sparkle and natural elements is local decor expert Lee Shakotko of Interiors by Lee and BarbaraLee Designs, an event design company she owns with her mother Barb Clark. On Monday night, with my Downtown Dollars in hand, I had the opportunity to see Lee's creativity in action when Savour Decor hosted a Christmas decor workshop. 
Lee demonstrates her secrets to a stylish and whimsical Christmas tree.

Peacock blue is one of the hottest colours this Christmas
In addition to giving us pointers for creating a lush tree, dramatic table centrepieces and a welcoming front door for the holidays, Lee also gave us her take on what will be hot in decor for 2012.  A few of her top predictions?

* greys are here to stay as the go-to neutral
* peacock blue and wasabi green continue to offer bright punches of accent colour - think the colours in peacock feathers
* vintage and vintage-inspired pieces are still popular but give them a fresher lighter look by mixing with the clean lines of mid-century or Scandinavian design
* rustic and natural elements get a similar mix and match treatment - we'll be seeing more rugged wooden dining tables mixed with streamlined or chrome chairs

I'm obsessed with birch right now so I love this whole look.

Visions of sugarplums would surely dance in your head in this bed.
I love getting tips on incorporating the latest trends but in the end it's all about knowing what you love. Lucky for me Savour Decor is full of endless inspiration.

Turn cooking into an occasion with these measuring spoons.
Napkin rings that would look at home in Grandma's jewelry box.

So in the end how did I choose to spend my downtown dollars?  I opted for a few ornaments that reflect the rustic glamour that is Savour Decor's specialty:  a textural wool felt heart and a little pouch of 10 mercury glass-style baubles.  I predict these will stay out long after the 25th of December to add a little shimmer to long winter nights.

Don't forget! Savour Decor is joining in on Downtown Fredericton's Black Friday events with No Tax and Surprise Sales on November 25.

where to find them:
the shop: 406 Queen Street
on twitter: @SavourDecorNB
on facebook: search "Savour Decor"

Interested in Lee Shakotko's decor services?  Contact her at

toyland, toyland

What better place to start my #bringitdowntown Christmas shopping spree than a toy store?  On Saturday night I headed to ThinkPlay and Endeavours at 412 Queen Street for a private shopping party.  With a ticket to the after-hours event guests got refreshments, a discount on their purchases, gift-wrapping and lots of good cheer!  And who wouldn't want to wander around a locked toy store after hours?
"A local real estate agent actually asked us about the idea so we hosted a private shopping party for her and her clients and it was a great success.  So we actually expanded that a few years ago to other groups.  When we were doing our Christmas planning Angela and I said, 'why don't we try this again and why don't we open it up to all of our customers who might be interested?'" explains owner Luke Randall.

When Luke first opened ThinkPlay in 2004 I joked that it was my childhood dream to have a friend who owned a toy store.  The shelves are always stocked with the most creative, silly and unique toys and games.  With new finds arriving regularly, every trip is sure to unearth new surprises guaranteed to make you nostalgic (Fraggles, Smurfs and old school card games) and make you laugh (someone on your list needs instant underpants or an inflatable turkey, admit it.)

Bridging the two stores together is the wonderful candy display.  Luke is just back from a major chocolate show in New York so keep an eye out for delicious new additions in the near future!

My dad is an artist so I always try to include something from Endeavours in his Christmas gifts.  And of course one of the many benefits of visiting the local downtown shops is the personal touch - Luke is always good at remembering what materials my dad is using at any given time!

Check out for their online pen store!

With so much to choose from how did I spend my Downtown Fredericton dollars? I ended up choosing something that would help me bring the love to lots of my friends and family this year.   Luke always has beautifully designed boxed notecards.  So why not pick up my Christmas cards here?  We joke that he stocks Edward Gorey particularly with me in mind. They're nostalgic, quirky and very offbeat - right up my alley!

Check out ThinkPlay and Endeavours on BLACK FRIDAY
As part of Downtown Fredericton's Black Friday events, the shop will be opening bright and early at 6 a.m. with specials changing every two hours. 
6-8 a.m. - 40% off all Winsor Newton Brushes, Calico Critters and 4M Science and Craft Kits
8 a.m. - 10 a..m. - 405 off all Golden Mediums and ALL candy (Yum!)
10 a.m. - 12 p.m. - 40% off all Kroom Toys and Furniture and $25 off all easels over $100
12 p.m. - 2 p.m. - 30% off all Copic sets and Neo Pico sets and 25% off all Curious Chef products
2 p.m. - 4 p.m. - 30% off all Groovy Girls stuff and Winsor Newton Sets

Where to find them:
 the store: 412 queen st.
facebook: or search "ThinkPlay Toystore"
twitter: @thinkartstuff

Thursday, November 17, 2011

susan holt brings the love

While I continue to plot and plan how I'll #bringitdowntown check out this great video from Susan Holt and how she brought the love! Great Downtown Fredericton ideas for Christmas and year-round!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


For the nearly 15 years that I've lived in Fredericton, downtown has been my playground.   There have been a lot of changes over the years and today the heart of our little city is the most vibrant I've seen it with great locally-owned shops and boutiques, a variety of restaurants and cafes and a lively arts scene.  So when Downtown Fredericton asked if I'd like to participate in the their holiday campaign Bring the Love Downtown I was quick with a "Yes, please!"

Here's how it works.

Downtown Fredericton has invited 15 social media personalities (confession: I'm blushing to be included with this group!) to spend $100 dollars downtown in any way we wish. There's only one catch - we have to document how we spend it!

You can follow all of our downtown adventures on Twitter with the hashtag #bringitdowntown

And now I'd love to know how would you spend $100 in downtown Fredericton?

Monday, November 14, 2011

it's beginning to look a lot like...


(click on the photos for shop information)



Comes a point in early November where I feel the need to purge the house of pumpkins but it's still much too early to deck the halls.  Between the gourds and the glitz, November provides a little breather where branches and berries can show off their simple and natural beauty.

I loved these winterberry branches from Fredericton Boyce Farmers' Market so much I made them my new blog header...  Great way to bring a festive wintery feel to your home - and inexpensive at $10 for two bunches!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

girl put your records on.

Some of my earliest memories involve my dad and vinyl LPs.  Every Sunday dinner afternoon brought the CBC radio program Gilmour's Albums after which my dad and I would spend most of the afternoon playing record after record and talking about them until one or both of them fell asleep.  This was not a proto-hipster collection.  It was dominated by classical music - composers were to me what hockey or baseball players were to other kids -  with a little Paul Robeson, Stan Rogers, Nat King Cole and Simon and Garfunkel thrown in for good measure.

While I think it's fantastic that I can carry my entire music collection in my pocket today and discover new music at the click of a button there's just something about vinyl.  I bought an old record player a few years ago but truth be told I hardly used it for fear of electrocution or fire  from the worn old cord...  Today I finally satisfied my craving for vinyl with the vintage-inspired Crosley Traveler.   What's a better soundtrack for a long autumn evening than the warm imperfect crackle of vinyl?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

remembering eva

If you are not familiar with Eva Cassidy's story, get out the tissues. Born and raised in the Washington D.C. area, Eva Cassidy began to play guitar when she was 9 years old and began performing when she was just 11. As a teenager and young adult she performed with a number of Washington area bands but always struggled with her shyness.

She began to focus on a solo career in bars and coffee houses and the Washington Post once said "she could sing anything — folk, blues, pop, jazz, R&B, gospel — and make it sound like it was the only music that mattered."

Although she had been honored by local music press and associations, she was virtually unknown outside of Washington when she died on November 2, 1996. She was 33.

It wasn't until 2000 when a BBC radio host played a recording of Eva singing "Over the Rainbow" that the world finally took notice. The posthumous album Songbird sold 100,000 copies and soared to the top of the charts.  By Christmas a camcorder video of Eva singing at Blues Alley would become one of the most requested videos ever on Top of the Pops 2.

The recordings from a shy young woman would go on to sell more than 10 million copies in the US, chart 3 number 1 hits in the UK and chart top 10 positions in Australia, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.

Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

get up, get up

This morning I woke myself up humming Sarah Slean's latest single "Set it Free" - that's how catchy it is. It may also be the leading contender for my theme song of 2011. 

I've been restlessly waiting for an album to grab me lately and her new double album Land & Sea fits the bill.  The first album is up-tempo "get up and take on the world" music and the second, inspired by old Hollywood scores and soundtracks, is sweeping strings and epic cinematic ballads.

Check it out! And then buy it!

P.S. I defy you to watch this video of Sarah and Joel Plaskett recording the opening track "Life" and not smile.  Love it.

Friday, October 21, 2011


nice threads

I  have a weakness for the classic orange and cream colour scheme of Penguin books but I really love when Penguin does special editions like these clothbound hardcovers or the Great Food series (which is on my wish list).  They've really outdone themselves this time with the "Penguin Threads"

Penguin commissioned artist Jillian Tamaki to embroider covers for three classic books.  If you've got someone on your Christmas list who loves both crafts and literature, your gift-giving dilemmas are solved.  Gorgeous!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

in which the Glad Girl explains her absence...

I have some 'splaining to do...  It's been a bit of a year.  As you might remember from this, my employment situation changed dramatically last spring.  I spent most of the spring and early summer freelancing which seemed to leave a good amount of time for domestic duties and little adventures and the blog posts about them.

But as you might also remember from this I'm a bit of a theatre buff; especially if that theatre is Theatre New Brunswick.  When the chance to join them as Director of Marketing and Development came up in August, I jumped at the chance.   So for the past two months I was busy with things like this:

And also this:

 Fun, right? except that it's left me little time for things like this blog.  However, last night I found time to go for a brisk autumn walk, bake and apple crisp and knit a little bit on my Christmas presents so balance may, in fact, be returning.  Stay tuned...

Monday, September 5, 2011