My First Anthropologie Experience

While visiting my sister this past weekend (more on that later), we decided to indulge in a little shopping. I hadn't been to a mall in months (okay, maybe weeks) and was looking forward to perusing some shops, trying on some spring accessories, and gawking at displays in what was once known as the World's Largest Mall.

We shopped for hours and my feet were aching. Seriously, it was bad. I work in an office where I sit most hours of the day and I definitely wasn't used to being on my feet for six hours at a time. My sister, who works at a locally-owned restaurant and is on her feet the whole day, just laughed at me.

It was time to start limping back to the car. I was tired, my eyes started to glaze over a bit, and my headache score was 3/10. I was also getting pretty hungry as it was nearing 8:00pm and we hadn't eaten since noon.

Then out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the store Anthropologie. I've heard about this store through various blogs, on Pinterest, and in multiple magazines but had never actually seen/been inside one for myself. Considering all I had to show for my exhaustive day of shopping was a scarf and a pair of earrings I figured one more store couldn't hurt. Excitedly, I pulled my sister into the store. She found a comfy chair to lounge in while I decided to go on my treasure hunt.

I'm going to confess that I found this store a bit...random. There were definitely some interesting pieces that caught my attention, but then there were also the 'eyebrow raisers.' Nonetheless, I wanted to find something unique and this was the place to do it.

While looking at a display of candles or something of the sort, I felt someone brush against me. I turned around to apologize (because I'm the weird sort of person who apologizes even when not at fault: like, "Oh, I'm so sorry I was in the pathway of your purse" sort of apology). Must be a Canadian thing. But when I swung around, it turned out to be a guy. And not some poor fellow who's wife had dragged him in to the store to hold the reindeer antlers or lettuce shaped tureen she was purchasing for the dining room reno, but a sixteen(ish) year old gothic-type of guy dressed in faded black denim from head-to-toe with greasy hair and a porn-stache. I was a bit taken aback to see him...not that I'm an expert in the demographics of Anthropologie shoppers or anything (like I said, it was my first time in the store) but this guy seemed out of place. This store sells fun and quirky women's clothing, accessories and home furnishings. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and moved along to another display.

But I had this lingering feeling that I was being watched. Not the kind of attention I sometimes get from people who are curious as to how tall I am (nope, I'm not wearing heels) but the uncomfortable type of feeling that your actions and whereabouts are being monitored. Was this guy following me around the store? Now I was going crazy. I'm sure it had to be the fact that my feet were so sore, my eyes were going a bit buggy, and I had a mild headache, but that little feeling didn't go away.

A few minutes later I was bumped into again and by bumped into, I mean someone poked me in the butt. What the hell? Who should be but ten feet from me walking in the opposite direction but Greasy Gothic Boy. Did he seriously just poke me in the butt? I decided to play a game of 'let's walk through the store randomly and in odd configurations and see where this guy ends up". I kid you not when I say I walked around a circular table two times and sure enough, he slowly followed me around the table. Now I knew something was really up. There was no way he was interested in ruffled blazers. 

This was just stupid and I was determined to give this guy a piece of my mind. I purposefully walked in the direction of a sales associate in hopes that he would follow me. He did, and when he walked behind me to (assumingly) get off on poking me again, I whipped around to give him a dirty look and tried to grab his hand. I don't know what I was planning to do if I was successful. Drag his sorry ass to the counter and make him apologize? Smack him across his greasy cheek and tell him to keep his dirty hands to himself? I'm the least confrontational person ever and I definitely hate making a scene, but this was way beyond inappropriate and I was already cranky. Unfortunately when I whipped around he dodged me and disappeared in a rack of clothes and bookcases. I didn't see him again.

I ended up going to the counter and telling the sales associate what had happened. She apologized profusely and said that they'd look into it. I couldn't point out the perpetrator as he had since disappeared but I didn't want him lingering around the store bothering other shoppers. I felt completely disgusted with what had transpired and just wanted to get out of there. I found my sister still lounging in the same comfy chair I’d left her in and I told her what had happened to her shock and appall. We left the store, disappointed that what was supposed to be an exciting experience turned out so badly.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? I honestly don't know if what I did was the best course of action but I was just completely grossed out. Do you trust your intuition or feel bad for making snap judgments? Would you have confronted the guy? Would you have warned other people? All I know is that I can't think of going back into that store without getting a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach... which is really unfortunate because they had absolutely nothing to do with what happened and they do have some wonderful treasures.

I guess I'll stick to online shopping for the next while.


In Need of Some Vitamin C

Danny flew off to Florida this morning to attend a week-long seminar in preparation for his licensing exam in May. A few months ago, we considered the possibility of me tagging along. I've never been to Florida so it could have been a nice opportunity for me to explore the area, get some sun, and do a bit of shopping while he spent 12 hours a day reviewing cases in some cold, dark, cramped room. Okay, apparently the seminar is at a big fancy Conference Centre so it can't be that bad... but he's stuck indoors nonetheless. In the end we decided that I'd stay home this time around as work has been quite busy, we'd get very little time together, and there would be more opportunity for traveling in the future.

But today, as I trudged through the snow and slush and muck, trying not to catch a cold from all the strangers blowing their noses on the street, I was just a tad jealous that I didn't go along.

Today it is cloudy with flurries here...29'C and sunny there.


Cupcake 911

Danny has been working especially long hours lately; putting in overtime at the hospitals, training a new batch of medical students and studying for his final qualifying exam in May. So yesterday, while watching an old episode of Cake Boss, I was inspired to whip up my own batch of cupcakes as a little treat for us to enjoy.

I consider myself to be a fairly decent baker, but surprisingly, I had never actually made cupcakes from scratch. Pies, cakes, cookies, scones... no problem... but never cupcakes. I picked a very moist chocolate cupcake recipe (because we both love chocolate) and I did a quick search through my cupboards to ensure I had the correct ingredients on hand. I did! Making the batter seemed pretty easy...sift this, mix that, add a few more things and presto! 

As I was about to pour the batter into the tins, I realized I was completely out of liners. I figured since I've made many many batches of muffins without using liners I'd just spray the tins with some cooking oil as I normally do, and I'd be fine.

Oh, was I wrong.

The cupcakes, although beautifully puffed and crispy on the edges were so very soft throughout. As soon as I tried to lift one out of the pan it completely fell apart in my hands. Three failed attempts later I realized I had a problem. Now what?

I hate failing at anything... especially things that I consider myself to be fairly proficient with and this was a real blow to the old ego. Plus, Danny was supposed to arrive at any minute and I didn't want him to walk right into my disaster zone. I had to get creative, and quickly.

Back into the cupboards I went searching.  I didn't even know what I was searching for specifically but I was getting desperate. Then, next to the Bailey's Irish Creme, it struck me... martini glasses!

I scooped up the half broken cupcake bottoms and pressed them into the glass. Then I tried to find the cupcakes tops that were mostly intact and positioned those on top. I scooped some icy mint icing and spread it on top. Not half-bad and I could serve it with a spoon!

When D arrived home he was completely impressed with culinary abilities (ha!) and couldn't wait to dig into the glass.

Lessons Learned:
- Always have baking liners on hand
- Don't panic when your cupcakes crumble
- Whenever in trouble, the solution is usually near the Baileys ;)

Extra Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325'C
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a heavy mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; add sugar.
Turn the mixer on low and add, in order, water, milk, eggs, oil and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium, briefly, to achieve a smooth batter.
Scoop the batter into muffin tins lined with paper baking cups; each cup should be about half-full; slide the tins onto a baking sheet and bake about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting I just whipped up a simple butter and icing sugar frosting. I added two drops of peppermint extract and two drops of blue colouring for flavour and colour. I didn't use a recipe so don't have the exact measurements on hand.


A Cuban Retreat

As evidenced through my last few posts, it may have been obvious that I was in need of a break from this fridgid winter weather. Fortunately, we were able to get that break in the form of a little holiday in sunny Cuba.

Leaving behind the snow and wind was a great feeling, although the flimsy windbreaker and sweater I wore to the airport reminded me not to get too cocky. But seriously, I couldn't conceive of packing my winter parka, which would take up at least 2/3 of my suitcase, just to be warm(ish) for the two minutes I would be outside the airport when we got back. So I said adios to the parka and left the cold weather behind.

The journey was long. A layover in Montreal from midnight to 0600h afforded me the experience of 'sleeping' on a wooden bench for a few hours (I use quotation marks because, as you can imagine, I didn't get a wink of sleep). Danny and I thought we could tough it out like the people on 'The Amazing Race' but soon realized it was not all that desirable or effective. But a hotel seemed like a waste as it would likely take an hour or two to grab our bags, get a taxi, drive to the hotel and check in...only to turn around about two hours later to head back to the airport and stand in lines again. Danny and I were exhausted when we finally boarded the final plane to Cayo Coco and were glad to have noise cancelling headphones at our disposal.

We slept like babies the whole way there.

Landing in Cuba was wonderful. The sky was bright blue, the sun was shining, and most importantly, it was warm! A well organized team of people drove us to our resort where we would spend the next week basking in the sun, reading on the terrace, sipping endless cappuccinos, exploring new cities and sailing on the turquoise waters on a catamaran. Oh to be back there right now!


What I'm Craving

I stumbled upon this recipe from Williams-Sonoma today and just can't get it out of my head. Mmmm, it looks so yummy. I sure hope I have enough time to whip it up tonight. Just have to figure out how to get my hands on some juicy ripe peaches.

Peach Streusel Coffee Cake


- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces

- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 1/2tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 firm, ripe peaches, peeled, pitteed and sliced 1 inch thick


Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round springform pan or square baking pan or baking dish. Note: If using a glass baking dish, reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

To make the streusel, in a bowl, stir together the flour, brown and granulated sugars and cinnamon. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut or rub in the butter until coarse crumbs form. Set aside.

To make the cake, in a bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed or a wire whisk, beat the egg, melted butter, milk, vanilla and almond extract until creamy, about 1 minute. Add to the flour mixture and beat just until evenly moistened. There should be no lumps or dry spots. Do not overmix.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. If using a springform pan, arrange the peach slices in concentric circles from the pan sides to the center. If using a square pan, arrange the slices in rows. Gently press the slices into the batter. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel.

Bake until the topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean,
40 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove the sides of the springform pan, if using. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges or squares. Makes one 9-inch cake.