DIY Sharpie Mug

With the holidays just around the corner (EEEKKK less than a week until Christmas!!), I’ve spent many hours on pinterest looking up potential gift ideas. In my perfect martha stewart world, I would be giving everyone beautiful gift baskets filled with delicious cookies and hand-made crafts. Unfortunately, of my list of crafts, I only got around to making one of my pins. The Sharpie mug.

 

My co-worker and I were tossing around ideas about what to get our supervisor when we settled on a coffee themed basket. And of course, a custom mug would add the perfect touch! I had envisioned Ontario with a plane flying over top taking some hi-res orthophotography of the province. And since he loves ‘metadata’ so much, we knew we had to incorporate that into the mug somehow. This is what we came up with. mugdraft
After getting really excited about our craft project, we decided to look up craft fails to see how others faired with similar projects. DISASTER. I quickly learned that regular sharpies NO NOT WORK! The consensus seems to be that oil-based paints were the way to go so off I went to Michaels to pick up supplies. I picked up these oil-based Sharpie paint markers for $4/each and this white ceramic mug from Walmart for $3. whitemug
After doing a few practice drawings, we came to the sad realization that our artistic abilities resembled that of a first graders. How is it that things always look WAY BETTER in your head than they do on paper? We decided to try a less ambitious design. Even then… I’m horrified by our inabilities to draw a nice circle. carrie
Here’s what they looked like before putting them in the oven to bake.metamug
We also included one of his famous quotes on the side.operators
While I was at it, I also made a mug for my grams. For this mug, I attempted to draw each of the cousins. I’d say it was moderately successful. grammaMug
The next step was to throw it in the oven to set the paint. Put the mug in and then turn the oven to 350 degrees and once it reaches this temperature, leave it in for another 30 mins. Once your 30 mins is up, leave it in the oven to cool down.
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So I can’t say for sure how long the design will last but I gave it a quick rinse under water and the paint seemed to stay on ok.

To complete the gift, we picked up a little basket, a bag of coffee from Natas Cafe, and a box of amazing truffles from the Naked Chocolate. Check out my other post for photos from my visit to the Naked Chocolate.

Chasing the Cheese

Knock Knock
Who’s There?
Cheese!
Cheese Who?
Cheese a jolly good fellow

You can imagine how many knock knock jokes I’ve heard growing up (because my name sounds like knock)… but this one may actually be the worst.

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graciousgormetspreads

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pasta

Owner, Julie Austin, aims to expose people to both great and humble cheeses that they might not otherwise have an opportunity to try at home. They encourage branching out and trying new varieties and let you sample the cheeses before committing to buy. Their passion is evident and it’s clear how much they want to help you find something to make your taste buds smile. I left my first visit with a little brown bag filled with roaring 40s blue – an amazing blue veined creamy cow’s milk from austrailia, Sartori Bellavitano Espresso – a pasteurized cow’s milk soaked in espresso coffee from Wisconsin, USA, and Commanda – I can’t remember what this was exactly other than it was made with ewe’s milk. All 3 were quite distinct but each delicious in their own way. I also picked up some white Stilton Mango Ginger which is a little on the sweeter side and the Shropshire Blue which has a nice earthy taste.

 

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I’ve already gone back to Chasing the Cheese twice this month and I’m sure I’ll be popping by a lot more often. If you’re a cheese lover, or are looking for the perfect gift for your cheese loving friend, then this shop is guaranteed to have what you’re looking for.

 

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Chasing the Cheese

372 Water Street
Peterborough, Ontario
K9H 3L6
(705) 775-0525

Naked Chocolate

Is there really anything better than chocolate? My co-worker and I were on the hunt for items to include in our gift basket for my supervisor when she suggested we fill up the mug with some chocolates from Naked Chocolate on George st in Peterborough. I’ve heard mumblings of this magical place but haven’t had a chance to visit until today. As you enter the shop, you are literally engulfed in chocolate aroma. As I looked around, all I could think about was how my chocolate loving friend Sam would have a field day in here. Even Willy Wonka himself would have been impressed.

assortedchocolates

Chocolatier Warren Eley beautiful hand-crafts all the artisan chocolates and fine confections. You can see the artistry that goes into all of the beautiful sweets in the shop. I kid you not, the truffles were actually glistening and some even sparkled!

 

Although we had planned to just buy a few items to fill up the mug, we couldn’t resist buying box full of truffles and some butter crunch toffee. shelfchocolate
boxofNakedChocolate
They have pre-packaged boxes but it was surprisingly fun to pick out each individual piece. They have everything from the traditional milk chocolates, to more exotic and unique flavours that incorporate balsamic, chilis, and curries.

Sadly, I didn’t buy any chocolate for myself so I can’t comment on how delicious everything is but I can say that I’ve heard nothing but good reviews. I’ll definitely be stopping by in the new year for one of these chocolate covered strawberries and a box of macarons.

chocolatestrawberries
french macaroons from Naked Chocolate

Naked Chocolate

300 George St. N
Peterborough
705-755-6253

 

Reggie's Grill House

reggiesboardorder

Last Sunday, as I was working away, I looked up at the tv to see an amazing burger on the food network’s “You Gotta Eat Here“. And then all of a sudden, I heard him say “Peterborough”. WHAT!?!?! PETERBOROUGH ONTARIO?!? How have I not heard of this place?!? Clearly if John Catucci was telling me that I had to eat there… who am I to disobey? So the following weekend, I had no choice but to head to Reggie’s Hot Grill in East City.

jerkchicken

The bf opted for Jerk chicken. And although I’ve never been a huge fan of jerk spice, the moist, melt in your mouth chicken breast had me going in for a second bite. Ok… maybe also a third when he wasn’t looking. His side of fresh cut onion rings were crispy, delicious with a mild spice seasoning.

bauyoublueburger

My Bayou blue burger was definitely a guilty indulgence. The oozzing blue cheese chipotle sauce was extremely rich and flavourful and the bacon was cooked just the way I like it. Cooked but not overly crispy. The blue cheese chipotle sauce dripped all over my plate which led to the delicious discovery of how good my french fries tasted covered in the sauce.

 

bitingburger

Though I can’t see myself eating here all the time, I will be heading back to satisfy my next burger craving.

 

Reggie’s Hot Grill

89 Hunter Street East,

Peterborough, ON

K9H1G4

 

Reggie’s Grill House


Last Sunday, as I was working away, I looked up at the tv to see an amazing burger on the food network’s “You Gotta Eat Here“. And then all of a sudden, I heard him say “Peterborough”. WHAT!?!?! PETERBOROUGH ONTARIO?!? How have I not heard of this place?!? Clearly if John Catucci was telling me that I had to eat there… who am I to disobey? So the following weekend, I had no choice but to head to Reggie’s Hot Grill in East City.

jerk chicken from Reggie's Grill in Peterborough
The bf opted for Jerk chicken. And although I’ve never been a huge fan of jerk spice, the moist, melt in your mouth chicken breast had me going in for a second bite. Ok… maybe also a third when he wasn’t looking. His side of fresh cut onion rings were crispy, delicious with a mild spice seasoning.

bauyou blue burger from Reggie's Grill in Peterborough

My Bayou blue burger was definitely a guilty indulgence. The oozzing blue cheese chipotle sauce was extremely rich and flavourful and the bacon was cooked just the way I like it. Cooked but not overly crispy. The blue cheese chipotle sauce dripped all over my plate which led to the delicious discovery of how good my french fries tasted covered in the sauce.

 

Ngoc Nguyen eating at Reggie's Grill in Peterborough from You Gotta Eat Here

Though I can’t see myself eating here all the time, I will be heading back to satisfy my next burger craving.

 

Reggie’s Hot Grill

89 Hunter Street East,

Peterborough, ON

K9H1G4

 

La Petit Bar

My week isn’t quite complete without a visit to Le Petite Bar on Water st in Peterborough. Although it’s only 7 months old, this cozy little restaurant has made quite an impression with its made in-house charcuteries, cheeses from the neighbouring shop (Chasing the Cheese),  and home made mustards and desserts. It’s a very intimate setting with only 7 tables and a few bar stools, so be prepared to stand if you pop by on a Friday or Saturday night.

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I’ve started coming here every Thursday after work with colleagues and have been slowly making my way through their meat and cheese options. With a frequently changing list of options, I’ve rarely had the same thing twice.
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Along with your chosen cheeses and meats, you also have dills, olives, apples, dashes of their amazing house mustards, arugula, and sometimes chutneys or honey.

I’ve had so many of their meats and cheese and I’ve never once been disappointed by my choice. Their servers are happy to help you pick out pairings that go well together. I personally have a soft spot for their creamy rich pates and flavourful blue cheeses.

I had the pleasure of speaking with many of their staff and it was quickly evident how passionate they all are and how much they all genuinely love being a part of Le petit bar. Jamie, the mastermind behind the food is given creative license and from my experience, he’s been hitting it right on target. Billy and Sarie are my usual servers and they’re both knowledgeable about the food and attentive without being over bearing.
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IMG_9984Their beer list is somewhat limited, though I do like the fact that they only carry microbrews. I usually grab a bottle of the Mad Tom IPA which is flavourful and fragrant and pairs well with most of their meats. They have one tap and it pours Kings Pilsner. It’s fairly hoppy with a bitter finish. Not my favourite beer until one of the servers (Billy) introduced me to what he calls the “Billy Torpedo”. The simple mixture of the King’s with a splash of ruby red grape fruit juice completely changes how the beer finishes. If you’re hoping for a larger variaty of beer, their neighbour, St Veronus might be more up your ally. But I’ll write about them in a later post. My colleague Catherine is a major fan of their creative cocktails. Their crisp and refreshing Thyme for Collins is a crowd pleaser. But for these cold winter days, Catherine always starts her meal off with some Apple Cinnamon Hot Toddy. YUM! This image below is their “Real Housewife”.

cocktail
Though I always opt for cheese and meats over sweets, we decided to splurge one day and also get their dessert board. I was so excited about it that I completely forgot to take a picture! It had candied oranges dipped in chocolate, chocolate meringue on top of whipped cream, lavender shortbread cookies, decadent mini brownies, and a little bowl of berries and pomegranate. Everything came in a pair so it was perfect for two of us to share. I’m not partial to sweets but I do find myself day dreaming of that dessert board.
Their delicious meats, cozy atmosphere, and steller service keeps me coming back! If you ever find yourself in downtown Peterborough, make sure you make a pit stop here!

 

Le Petit Bar

399 Water Street

Peterborough, Ontario

 

Volunteering at Santa Claus Fund – Toronto Star

100% of your donation goes to purchasing the contents of the gift box

presents2

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to take for granted how fortunate some of us are. Volunteering to deliver presents for the Santa Claus fund gave me the opportunity to slow down and remember the importance of giving and helping others. I remember the joy of getting a brand new toy on Christmas day and to be able to give that to a child who may not otherwise receive a gift was an opportunity I wasn’t going to pass up.

 

The Santa Claus Fund organized by the Toronto Star aims to give a little bit of holiday cheer to underprivileged children. One point that I wanted to emphasize is that when you donate, 100% of the donation goes to purchasing the contents of the gift box (this includes a warm sweater, socks, mittens, hats, books, toys and candies). The Toronto Star generously covers all administrative costs.

 

Santa sets up distribution centers all over the GTA and volunteer elves assemble to help distribute. We headed to the firehall nice and early at 8:30am last Saturday to pick up the gift boxes. To make delivery a little easier, the presents are sorted by neighbourhoods. We quickly filled up the car with as many presents as we could. We ended up fitting about 20 presents into the car so that meant we had about 14 houses to visit (some families has multiple presents because they had multiple kids). It was a wonderful experience and I’d highly encourage participating or donating to the cause. I know I will definitely be signing up again next year!

 

If you’re interested in participating, here are a few things that I learned from my experience.

 

1. Write down the addresses of the homes BEFORE putting the presents into the car and make sure you put similar streets together.  This will help you map out an efficient route and not have you doubling back to a neighbourhood because a box was hidden at the back of your trunk.

 

2. Dress warm and wear comfortable shoes. Since you select gifts in the same neighbourhood, they will often by separated by a block or two. Be prepared to walk a lot and wait outside of people’s houses. Since you will be carrying the presents, make sure you wear gloves.  I unfortunately learned how quickly your fingers can get really cold.

 

presents

3. Don’t get discouraged by the number of families that aren’t home. Many parents work shifts and may be at work or are sleeping. Many also have weekend jobs or may just be out running errands. Out of our 14 houses, we had about 6 that were undeliverable. These presents are returned back to the distribution centre where the families can go pick it up themselves or someone else might try to redeliver at a later date.

 

4. Make sure you aren’t in a rush. Packing up the car, visiting 14 houses, and returning back to the distribution centre took about 3 hours.

 

5. I opted to deliver to mostly houses but if you have young children with you (I highly encouraged teaching young ones the act of giving and helping others), it might be easier to pick recipients in the same apartment building. This will allow you to visit many families houses in a shorter period of time. You will also end up staying a little bit warmer.

 

6. Having a cell phone really helped as many of the presents also listed a contact number for the family. Some families may not open the door for a stranger, or you might not know the buzzer code to get into the apartment building. I found that it helped to give them a call to let them know that you were either waiting in the lobby, or that you were on your way.

 

7. Never judge a book by the cover. You may think that from looking at the outside of someone’s home, or from the neighbourhood that they live in, that they may not need any assistance but you never really know someone’s situation. Remember, you didn’t volunteer to judge. Santa picked them for a reason.

 

 

You can visit the Santa Claus Fund page on the Toronto Star if you would like some more information about this wonderful initiative.

 

*UPDATE*

My blog post was featured in the Toronto Star!

Ngoc Nguyen in the Toronto Star