#CTLCookieExchange - M&M Sugar Cookies


Welcome back to the second cookie in our #CTLCookieExchange. Today we are again visiting one of my family's favourite cookies, but this time with a twist. These were my boys favourite cookies when they were very, very small (as opposed to them being very, very big now. They are both taller than me!). These cookies have always been a hit with little ones and if you have a few new parents in your mix, I know they will appreciate having a cookie that the kids will like. Because who doesn't like a sugar cookie with chocolate chips and M&M's? Nobody, that's right! I printed this recipe and kept it sandwiched in a notebook where I keep all my printed recipes and the date on it is 2005. Seriously, I've had this printed recipe for 11 years and still make these cookies every Christmas.

Winter Skincare


Each new season is an opportunity to asses our skin care regime. With winter quickly approaching, right now we need to focus on how that will affect our skin. Open windows have been replaced with blowing hot air and that shift can cause our skin to dry, making it look less vibrant than it should. This season is unique in that almost every skin type deals with some degree of dry, itchy skin during the winter months. I myself am a near constant sufferer of dry skin and while I do love winter, I dread what it does to my skin. I started to do a little online research and then quickly remembered that I have a fabulous resource, the lovely Julie, Spa Director at Langdon Hall! I reached out to ask if she wouldn't mind taking part in a Q&A on the subject of winter skincare and she happily obliged (thanks Julie!).   

Classy Canadian Tuxedo


Jeans | Shirt | Jacket | Scarf (old, similar) | Necklace | Boots | Purse | Nail polish | Lips

Black Friday Deals 2016


Today is the day to gear up for all the cyber week sales. It's always best to have a plan of attack when trying to navigate these savings so to help myself and you I am sharing the best Black Friday Deals 2016 that I can find - and I will be live updating this post today and tomorrow as I find more! It's a live and active post here people so check often and share any of your finds in the comments below!

Here are a few places I recommend you check out first

Clothing


L.L.Bean - Thanksgiving Sale: Enjoy 20% off when you spend $50 plus free shipping and 100% satisfaction guaranteed – Use Promo Code: THANKS20 Valid 11/23 - 11/29 and get a Free $10 Gift Card with Purchase of $50 or More, Special Limited-Time Offer. Yes you can use both codes!

J.Crew - 40% off your purchase, use code HOLIDAY

J.Crew Factory - 50%-60% off everything, plus extra 40% off clearance, use code HAPPYSALE

Talbots - 50% off one item (until noon on Black Friday) plus 40% off entire purchase today 

Hudson's Bay - Up to 70% off and free shipping

Banana Republic - 50% off 5 regular priced items, use code BRFIVE

Old Navy - 50% off most items, no code necessary

Hatley - Up to 70% off, free shipping over $75

GAP - 50% off everything, use code TGIF50

Ralph Lauren - Spend more, save more, use code TURKEY 

Lilly Pulitzer - Gift with purchase of $75 or more, Nov 24-27

Marks & Spencer - Up to 50% off selected items, plus 20% off when you sign up for the newsletter

Joules - 30%-50% off selected items

Holt Renfrew - Up to 60% off fall fashion and accessories, plus enjoy free shipping

Nordstrom - Extra 20% off selected sale items

Lands' End - 50% off outerwear and 40% off everything else, use code SAVEBIG and Pin:9587

Tommy Hilfiger - 40% off site-wide, use code TYTOMMY

ASOS - 20% off everything, use code GOGOGO

Bikini Village - 25% off on $100 or more

Home


Anthropologie - 30% off full-price and sale items, use code LETSGO

Pottery Barn - 20% off plus free shipping, use code GIVETHANKS

Williams Sonoma - 20% off plus free fast shipping, use code THANKS

Target - For Canadian/International shoppers take $20 off your order of $100 or more, use code INTLSHIP


Beauty

Sephora - Black Friday gifts sets and free shipping over $50

Travel

Langdon Hall - Every gift card purchase made between Nov 25-28 will receive a gift card worth 10% of the purchase price


Family


Disney Store - Spend more, save more plus free shipping with code CYBER

Celebrating This Life Cookie Exchange


Welcome to a new weekly series here on Celebrating This Life, a virtual cookie exchange! The invites are rolling in for an afternoon of swapping Christmas treats (and hopefully some cocktails!) and I have to say, I am loving the renewed interest in this festive activity. If you have not yet been invited to an IRL cookie exchange, start one! I remember my mom attending a few and as a youngster with a heavy sweet tooth, I always looked forward to taste testing the treats her friends made. It was an opportunity to try something entirely new! I still remember the first time I ate a rum ball and thinking it was the greatest thing in the world! They were not a usual treat in my family so this cookie exchange really broadened my cookie horizons.

This Christmas season I am taking some time for myself and have committed to baking one new cookie each week to bring to a cookie exchange, share with my work colleagues (they're going to love me!), or just to feed to my boys (AMH is not a sweets guy). I will be sharing the recipe and how best to package them every Wednesday from now until New Year's so make sure to come back and try out a new recipe for your cookie exchange!

*Rules for a successful cookie exchange

- Each invitee must bake one type of cookie for sharing (not a mixture of cookies)
- Cookies are to be packaged in one dozen units
- Bake an extra dozen to be sampled at the party
- The host must share the final RSVP numbers. This will determine how many dozen to bake (10 guests = 11 dozen cookies)
- Prepare for an afternoon of fun!


I am starting with an old family favourite, Lime Meltaways. It is always the first cookie I make of the season and because they are The Oldest's favourite (and he eats like a horse) I always end up making a few batches. The recipe below will yield 5 dozen and to ensure the flakiness of each cookie, I do not recommend doubling the recipe (I tried once and it just wasn't the same). They are so easy to prepare that even if you need to make 4 batches, it shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes. Once the dough is ready, they pop in the freezer for an hour and then you only need to slice, bake, and coat in powdered sugar to finish. I love popping the lime meltaways in clear baggies with colourful ribbons. They are easy to make, easy to package, and even easier to eat. Your fellow cookie exchangers will be thrilled with these melt in your mouth cookies.


The ingredients for lime meltaways are simple. Stick to fresh limes and the best vanilla you can find and you will be rewarded with the most flavourful, melt in your mouth cookies.

Lime Meltaways

Original recipe from Martha Stewart

Yield 5 dozen

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 limes
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice - approx. 2 limes
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1. Put butter and 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add lime zest and juice and vanilla, and mix until fluffy.


2. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl. Add to butter mixture, and mix on low speed until just combined.


3. Divide dough in half. Place each half on an 8-by-12-inch sheet of parchment paper. Roll in parchment to form a log 1 1/4 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow log. Refrigerate logs until cold and firm, at least 1 hour.


4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove parchment from logs; cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space rounds 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies until barely golden, about 13 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.


5.Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, toss cookies with remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Allow to cool before packaging in clear baggies. 


Don't forget to share your creations on social media and tag your photo #CTLCookieExchange. I'll be sharing some of your creations here on the blog for everyone to see! Happy baking! 

Christmas Shopping with L.L.Bean


Nothing makes a busy mom's life easier than online shopping and we are just days away from the busiest shopping day of the year - Black Friday. In the past I've done the 2 am rush to the malls (and as a Canadian that means paying for a hotel room you are barely using) and I have to say, I don't care for it. This year I am skipping the lines and sticking with my plan of online Christmas shopping and this year I will be Christmas shopping with L.L.Bean. I've been doing my research (aka reading the L.L.Bean catalog over and over) and have found the perfect Christmas presents for everyone on your list! So grab a hot cup of something and let the shopping begin!

(L.L.) Bean To Tiffany Falls


Outfit | Jacket, Flannel shirt, bag c/o L.L.Bean | Boots & Socks: L.L. Bean | Jeans: Mavi | Lips: Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer in Rhubarb 

Scarves On


Outfit | Scarf: Target | Blazer: Philosophy by Republic (similar from J.Crew, 25% off with code WARMSTYLE) | Sweater: FCUK | Leggings: Old Navy | Flats: Prada (Similar for under $100!) | Purse: Burberry (Vintage, from Luxe Touch Consignment)

5 Favourite Winter Sweaters


We have been absolutely spoiled this fall. October was such a beautiful weather month and the first half of November was much of the same. But with snow in the forecast for this weekend I think it's time to admit we need to bring out the winter sweaters. No more running out of the house in only a long sleeve and a thin jacket, we now need the thickest and warmest sweaters we can find. And lucky for you, I've got a few of them right here! When I look for a sweater I want something that is a. warm b. comfortable and c. can be dressed up with work clothes and dressed down with jeans. I aim to have a dual purpose wardrobe to save on space and on time in the mornings. This also enables me to buy quality over quantity. Without any further introduction, here are my 5 favourite winter sweaters right now. 

Taylors Tartans


When Kate Middleton recently visited Canada, she stepped out with a scarf made up of the official tartan of Canada. Did you know that Canada has it's own tartan, appropriately called, Maple Leaf? Neither did I! In fact, each province has their own tartan and after a quick google search I found Taylors Tartans, a Canadian shop based in rural New Brunswick. They hand make scarves, caps, and even dog kerchiefs, using provincial tartans. Since Kate had one, I just had to have one too and I wore mine on a recent Starbucks run to get the first of many #RedCups.

AER Blowdry Bar


Today I am getting all nostalgic for my time spent in London this spring. Could it be I'm craving a return trip? The fact that The Youngest is headed to London next week (lucky kid)? Or...could it be that I am missing the best blow dry bar that I have ever been to? Yup, that's it. The last one. AER Blowdry Bar has been on my mind for a little while and since I can't visit them in person, I thought I would relive my experience! 

Blazer Days


Brooch: Vintage (similar) | Shirt: Target | Jeans: Mavi | Belt: Target |
Watch: Michael Kors | Shoes: Nine West (Similar) | Purse: Burberry (Vintage, from Luxe Touch Consignment)

Lest We Forget


by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Bean Boots & Totes


Outfit | Boots: L.L.Bean (socks here) | Boat & Tote: L.L.Bean | Sweater: L.L.Bean
Black long sleeve: Banana Republic | Vest: Old (similar) | Jeans: Mavi

Kitchener-Waterloo Coffee Shops

Today I'd like to take you on a tour of my favourite local coffee shops. In the last few years there has been a gourmet coffee movement in Kitchener-Waterloo and coffee shops have been popping up in the downtown core and in the surrounding areas. These coffee shops have quickly become the place to grab your morning coffee, meet up with friends, or as a quiet moment on your own (or with your husband while leaving the kids at home!). If you are in the area, why not sit a spell and visit one of the following Kitchener-Waterloo coffee shops (and if you're not from around here, come visit! It's a beautiful place with a lots to see an do, Oktoberfest anyone?).

Smile Tiger Coffee Roasters


The Art of Home Christmas Reveal




One of my favourite shops, The Art of Home in Galt, Ontario, takes Christmas very seriously. Each year they paper up the front windows and tease their followers on Instagram with peeks at how they will be decorating for the holiday season. I was out of  town for last year's reveal (here is my tour of the shop in 2014) and vowed not to miss this year. The unveiling of The Art of Home's Christmas windows is a big deal in our little area and I had real FOMO! 

Orange Silk Scarf


Outfit | Silk scarf: Vintage | Blazer: Target | Sweater: Tommy Hilfiger |
Pants: Banana Republic | Purse: Louis Vuitton | Shoes: Similar |