Casbah take me away…

You know that feeling when you’ve been away on a vacation but you’re dying to come home (OMG…I really need a trip somewhere)? It’s like that for me with spas.

photo courtesy Casbah Spa

My every waking hour could be spent getting rubbed, waxed, plucked, and painted in spas, so I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur. And I enjoy visiting new spas, but I NEVER find any quite as fabulous as the gem right in my “back yard” — Casbah Day Spa in South Surrey. It’s the Cat’s Meow, the Lamb’s Lettuce and the Bee’s Knees all wrapped up into one glorious location.

photo courtesy Casbah Spa

It’s the type of place that makes your heart skip a beat when you receive a gift certificate, and I want my bloggy pals to get that tingly feeling, so I’m giving away a…

$50 gift certificate for Casbah Spa’s services or products.

Hey…if you’re not local, but you know someone who is, you can still enter the draw and look like a hero when you give it to them. Otherwise, it’s worth a car/plane/boat trip just for the sheer pleasure of it.

Jane Iredale cosmetics photo courtesy Casbah Spa

Perhaps you missed the hidden meaning in this blog post. Let me thump you on forehead with it….

“Dearest husband, I have adored you for 23 years, but let’s face it, you’re a bit “planning” challenged. Mother’s Day is approaching quickly, and I know you haven’t thought about what your loving wife would like from “the kids”. Two words: CASBAH SPA!!!!!!!!”

How to enter:

1. Click here and I’ll take you for a ride on the World Wide Web right to my Facebook page where you can click on “like”. If you’re already a “liker”, you’re already entered.

2. Earn an extra entry every time you tweet about the giveaway. Make sure to include a link to this post and my Twitter name. You can just use, “I want to win @nicolejanehome’s $50 Casbah Spa giveaway”.

3. Earn an extra entry every time you Facebook about the giveaway. But make sure to come back here and tell me each time.

Draw Date: Saturday, May 5

Here’s the pesky fine print: Must be 18 years or older and eligible to participate under local/federal laws.

black magnolia giveaway…

I feel like giving away one of my gorgeous black magnolia wall plaques! They’re 10″x10″ matte-finish relief plaques ($36.99 retail value).

Entering is super easy:

1. “Like” my Nicole Jane Home Facebook page here

2. Earn an entry by leaving a comment on my Nicole Jane Home Facebook page mentioning the Black Magnolia giveaway (one per entrant)

2. Earn an extra entry for every tweet you post that includes “@nicolejanehome’s black magnolia” and a link to this blog post

Draw Date: Wednesday, May 5 2012

The pesky small print: Must be 18 years or older and live in the U.S. or Canada (excluding Quebec…it’s the law). Void where prohibited.

Good luck everyone!!

if you can't be in Paris, just eat like it…

My pal, Patty, and I started a new photography course at Focal Point.Know what that means? You guessed it…more reviews of great little eateries in Vancouver!!!

We were starving by the end of the brain-draining class today (F-stop, Shmef-stop), so we headed over to the leafy Kerrisdale neighbourhood and spotted this little gem called Faubourg Paris. It’s a french boulangerie cafe, which specializes in the most exquisite petit fours and french bread baked five times daily to ensure freshness.

Of course, my eyes were bigger than my stomach (hard to imagine, really), so I ordered the Parisienne baguette AND a chocolate caramel tart. Although it was delicious, I only ate half of the baguette ’cause it was so big. Next time, I’ll come just for the dessert.

Here are the deets on the tart: One word…bliss! The tart pastry was lovely. The ganache on the top was divine. The ever-so-gooey caramel was heavenly! Wait a minute. I just realized I didn’t eat the chocolate triangle (gasp). Head for the bat-mobile…I’m going back to get it!!!!

In case your mouth isn’t watering enough yet, here’s a peak in one of their glass cases! I’m going back for one of these next time 🙂

Overall, not bad shots for an i-phone n’est-ce pas mes amis?

sparkly pink bike love…

Ooooooh…it’s a good day at Casa Findlay!!!! Lovely hubby went “to America” to pick up the pink cruiser bike I ordered on Benny’s Bike Store. Said lovely hubby is under the weather, and he had to go into the office for an event all evening. So the fact that he got up early to get my bike, and immediately got to work putting it together speaks volumes for what a sweetie pie he is!

Now it’s safely tucked away for the night. Tomorrow, hubby’s attaching the basket and adjusting the brakes–then I’ll know if he really loves me…or not….gulp!!!! I’ll post some photos once it’s all done. Maybe I’ll put on the new polka-dot dress I bought yesterday at LUCY, and ride around Ocean Park.

Who wants to go bike riding?!

stuff a cookie in it…

You know how sometimes you’re giving a presentation on the joys of blogging, and you say something flippant, like…oh…I don’t know…maybe, “If you ever see me blogging about food and recipes, you’ll know I have writer’s block!!”?

And then you go home and think about it for a while, and you realize that you probably just insulted half of the attendees in the room and flipped the bird at one of the things that gives you great pleasure?

Was I drunk?

Do you want to know what the kicker is? I used to have a baking business called Sugar Drops, and I loved baking! Duh.

So, as a peace offering to all the food bloggers out there (and there are a frighteningly high number of you), here is my highly-coveted SUGARDROP’S CHARLIE BROWN COOKIES recipe. Ta Da (said in a pathetic eating-crow kinda voice). They’re Charlie Browns ’cause there are peanuts and chocolate in them…get it? I know. Brilliant, right?

Makes about 40 absolutely amazingly delicious peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies, if you like that sort of thing. They’re perfectly crunchy and chewy at the same time.

1 cup unsalted butter (if you even think about using margarine, I’m gonna come over there and smack you with my spatula) room temp

1 cup peanut butter chunky or smooth (I use KRAFT unsweetened unsalted ’cause it actually tastes like peanuts)

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar (packed)

2 eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts (shelled…duh)

5 ounces or more Bernard Callebaut milk chocolate (I use Callebaut ’cause it’s AWESOME. If you love something else, use it.) chopped into 1/2-inch chunks.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper (You can use an ungreased pan if you don’t have parchment. For the love-of-Pete, go buy some parchment!).

In a mixer, cream together butter and peanut butter. Add sugars and mix well. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix.

Sift dry ingredients together and then add them to the butter and mix well. Fold in peanuts and chocolate by hand so they don’t get crushed.

Drop by spoonfuls onto pan about 2″ apart (they spread out), and pat down with a fork dipped in flour. Bake on the middle rack for approximately 15 minutes. Leave on the pan for a couple of minutes on top of the oven before removing to cool.

Bon Appetit!!!!

i know what you did last weekend…

I am soooo happy it’s springtime and the robins have come back out to sing! My toes are particularly tickled when I get to visit Canada’s jewel–the Okanagan–at this time of year. I lucked out marrying an Okanagan farm boy, ’cause I get to go visit the in-laws on their beautiful farm in Armstrong, at least a couple of times every year. And that’s exactly what we did last weekend.

The view from one of the top fields, looking south over Otter Lake

Jane on her favourite farm toy!!

Happiest dog on the planet when she's at the farm--doggy DisneyWorld!!!!

Look what the Easter Bunny left on the wood pile!!!!

Our weiner roasts always involve some epic mooching!

There are always cool little things on farms, like this haunted bird mansion!

lentil love…

Don’t you just love your friends? I do.

One of my besties, Sarah Johnson, is a vegetarian, and she agreed to go in front of the camera to teach me one of her favourite recipes–Napolitana Lentil Stew. Truth be told, I wore her down with my whining and sniveling about the pressures of blogging, and that as a fellow blogger (Year of Austere, check it out) she should support me in my insatiable need to post.

I’m well aware of the audacity of my request, considering that she, like me, is completely photo phobic, and runs screaming at the thought of her picture being taken (I know, stupid).

Sarah was a tireless model, and the reason the next photo is blurry, is because I had a ridiculously long F-stop, and she had to hold the pose perfectly still forever–FAIL. It was just such a cute shot of her that I had to use it. Watch out sexy Nigella!!!!

Sarah, you had me at sauteeing onions!!!!

Hard to believe that this mess…

…becomes this aromatic concoction of deliciousness. Can’t you just smell the antioxidants, vitamins, proteins and fibre all co-mingling into one amazing dinner? It really didn’t take long at all either.

This is Sarah at the end of the photo shoot. Hmmmm…wonder what’s going on in that pretty little head. Knowing her–as I do–she’s about to tell me, in her most sarcastic voice, “You’re an idiot,” and then tilt her head back, close her eyes and laugh hysterically! Love her.

Napolitana Lentil Stew

from “Market Vegetarian” by Ross Dobson

½ cup green or brown lentils (Sarah used canned lentils and made sure to rinse them)

3 tbsp olive oil

1 onion chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

a small handful of fresh oregano, chopped

1 tsp dried hot pepper flakes

1 ½ tbs salted caperberries (rinsed) (Sarah doesn’t like them, so she didn’t use them)

2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped (Sarah doesn’t like them, so she didn’t use them)

1 cup passata or tomato puree (She used canned tomato puree)

2 oz. small black pitted olives

4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

crusty bread, to serve

Serves 4

(If you’re using canned lentils, you can skip this part) Put the lentils in a large saucepan, add sufficient cold water to cover and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes until the lentils are tender, but retain a little “bite”. Drain and set aside until needed.

Put the oil in a saucepan set over high heat. Add the onion, garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes stirring often, until the onion softens. Add the capers, tomatoes, passata, lentils, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spoon into warmed serving dishes, top with the olives and crumbled feta and serve with crusty bread on the side for dipping into the rich sauce.

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