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One of our favourite summertime desserts makes its annual debut.
These delectable blackberry cheesecake bars are sure to be a crowd favourite.
One of our favourite summertime desserts is making its annual debut, freshly decked out with a delectable blackberry gelée on top to set it apart from its more pedestrian competition. We couldn’t be happier to see the seasonal advent of fruit-based desserts start its yearly parade.
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2 Butter an 8" square baking pan; line with a piece of parchment paper to extend up two sides and set aside.
3 In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, almonds, brown sugar and melted butter. Press firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer using a glass or your fingers. Bake in the oven for 7 minutes; let cool.
4 Meanwhile, in a food processor, blend together the cream cheese, mascarpone, eggs and sugar until smooth. Pour the mixture over the graham cracker crust and return to the oven; bake until the filling is set but the centre is still slightly wobbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 2 hours at room temperature.
5 To make the blackberry gelée, purée 2 cups of the blackberries with the sugar and the lemon juice in a blender; strain the mixture into a small saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat to reduce the liquid by a third and form a syrup.
6 Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup water to swell; stir into the blackberry syrup until the gelatin is dissolved. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then pour the syrup over the cheescake; garnish with the remaining blackberries.
7 Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 3 hours.
8 To serve, slice the cake in half, then slice each half into five equal bars.
Tip: The addition of mascarpone to this classic cheesecake base gives a lighter, silkier texture.
Eclectic family home filled with character and light
Once dark and lacklustre, this Toronto house is transformed into an eclectic family home filled with character and light.
A young couple leaving behind their condo in search of a home where they can start a family isn’t an uncommon occurence. But finding a house on day one is. “It was the first place we saw, and we instantly knew we had to have it,” says one of the homeowners. Located in uptown Toronto, the 1940s-era dwelling offered 1,200 square feet, three bedrooms and good bones that required little more than an aesthetic makeover.
The couple purchased the place in 2013 and hired designer Shirley Meisels to mastermind the update. Like their new home, she was option number one. “We’d seen her work online, and she was the first designer we met with,” says one of the homeowners. “We clicked right away.” The couple’s vision for the space – “warm and comfortable with a cool vibe” – was in keping with their personalities. “They’re super relaxed and stylish,” says Shirley. “I wanted the interior to be bright and eclectic to reflect the homeowners’ sensibility."
“Even though we purchased everything at once, I purposely mixed modern and traditional styles,” says Shirley. “Nothing is matching, so it looks like each piece was collected over time.”
The newly expanded entryway creates a great first impression. “As soon as you walk into the house, you get a sense of space and light,” says Shirley. Carefully chosen accessories, such as a durable rug, comfy bench and sculptural umbrella stand, make the area practical.
In the living room, the homeowners flanked the fireplace with shelving units, which Shirley styled. “Some items on display are new, some are vintage; the effect is energetic and interesting,” she says. “The shelves also provide space for books, artwork and bright pops of colour.” The lucite coffee table as well as the sofa and chair with open bases keep the room feeling light and airy.
To remedy the original lacklustre white kitchen, Shirley updated the cabinetry with paint: “I covered the lower cabinets and one of the floor-to-ceiling units in a deep inky blue and replaced the old piddly handles with sleek elongated ones.”
Renovations were minimal. “I turned the sunroom off the kitchen into a multi-purpose eating area and widened an original archway between the entryway and living room to make the main floor feel expansive,” says Shirley. The dark wooden staircase and most of the walls, formerly a mishmash of strong reds and ochres, were invigorated with white paint before new furnishings (the couple had moved in with just their bed) were put in place.
One room, however, was intentionally left unfurnished: the future nursery. It wasn’t for long, though, as the couple’s daughter was born the following year and they hired Shirley again.
“The nursery is the hands-down best space in the house,” says one of the homeowners. It’s decorated like any other room, complete with a great rug and grown-up-looking wallpaper. “Our daughter loves the wallpaper. We find her in there peacefully playing in her crib and gazing at the birds.” It’s a sight they’ll never tire of – first, last and always.
“My approach is not to be too kid focused when decorating a nursery – anything goes!” says Shirley.
Subtle warm metallic accents layer a bit of luxury in the minimal master bedroom.
Made with pure dairy ingredients this buttermilk pie from blogger Imen McDonnell's The Farmette Cookbook is a must-try.
Find the perfect gift for anyone on your list with these beautiful gifts all under $50.
We know: Expenses tend to add up over the holidays. From festive decorating to holiday entertaining and gift giving, of course, it’s hard to keep a budget under control. But giving a beautiful gift that will be loved and appreciated doesn’t mean spending a small fortune. Lovely, thoughtful gifts can be inexpensive yet meaningful. To help inspire you, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite gifts under $50!
1 Time For Tea Set: The perfect gift for the consummate tea lover on your shopping list this Christmas! This adorable tea set comes with a mug, a single-serve stainless steel tea infuser and a ceramic stir spoon, all perfectly perched on a wooden tray, making this easy to use any time. Trust us: Any tea lover will love this gift. Time For Tea Set, Indigo, $24.50.
2 All Natural Body Butter: Who doesn’t love the luxurious lather of a moisturizing body butter? This richly formulated, fair trade shea butter has vitamins A and E to quench dry skin and also has sweet almond and avocado oils for added moisture. Plus, this lotion’s hotel-chic packaging makes it a pretty countertop display, too! All Natural Body Butter, Bambeco, $22.
3 6x6 Instagram Collage: Help someone bring their Instagram photos to life with this beautiful Instagram display. Using Masterpix, photos are printed directly onto Corning® Gorilla® Glass, which is really thin, durable and clear. This is a great personalized gift that anyone would be thrilled to receive so they can display some of their favourite photos around the house. 6x6 Instagram Collage, Masterpix, $30.
4 Milk & Rose Glass Taper Candle Holders: Candles are a common Christmas gift but this year, why not give something a little different? These taper candle holders are absolutely exquisite and will delight any hostess who loves to make her table extra special when she entertains. Milk & Rose Glass Taper Candle Holders, White Lilac, $50.
5 Wood Calendar: We love the idea of personalized gifts and this wooden calendar is not only perfectly personal but also very handy heading into the new year. Choose 12 beautiful photos and turn them into a 12-month calendar. The printed pages sit in a handcrafted clipboard made from reclaimed beetle pine. This is a gift that will be treasured for years to come. Wood Calendar, Artifact Uprising, $30.
6 Pryce Bowl: At just $49.95, this bowl looks a lot more expensive than it is. Made of blown glass and featuring a hand painted platinum silver ring around the polished rim, this bowl will make a great centrepiece on any table. Its clean, classic look gives it an enduring appeal and it will look right at home on tables for generations to come. Pryce Bowl, Crate and Barrel, $49.95.
7 Cable Knit Pillow Cover: These super soft cable knit pillow covers are made from 100% organic cotton and will turn any sofa into an ideal napping spot. In a stylish shade of metal grey, this neutral pillow will easily slip into any decor scheme., Plus, check the website for the matching throw! Cable Knit Pillow Cover, Boll & Branch, $45.
8 Striped Marble and Wood Bookend: The bibliophile on your Christmas shopping list is sure to appreciate this gift. These bookends are made in India from interlocking pieces of mango wood and marble so not only will they help keep their bookcases in order, they’ll do so in some serious style! Striped Marble and Wood Bookend, West Elm, $49.