December 29, 2016 12/29/2016
December 22, 2016 12/22/2016
Location: Waterloo Region Museum & Doon Heritage Village |
Outfit: Sweater, Jacket (vintage, similar), Winter hat (sold out, similar), Jeans, Women's Cotton Ragg Camp Socks, Two-Pack, Women's Bean Boots By L.L.Bean, 8" Thinsulate, Boat and Tote Bag Canvas, Zip-Top, Lipstick
December 21, 2016 12/21/2016
I selected this week's #CTLCookieExchange, gingerbread people, because at the end of last week, I was off to a cookie exchange with some of my favourite people for our first annual cookie exchange. My original intention was to create gingerbread people that can hang off your mug and I thought I could just modify a regular gingerbread cutter for that. You can tell I'm not an engineer. After a few batches of trying to hook one arm of the dough, I realized (thanks Google) that there are cookie cutters for just the purpose. Oh well, there's always next year. But all was not lost! I continued on and made some of the cutest gingerbread people that sprinkles and icing could make.
December 15, 2016 12/15/2016
December 15, 2016 12/15/2016
The final countdown is on, only 10 days until Christmas. I was going to skip creating a holiday gift guide this year until I woke up and read a few Facebook posts all declaring their panic that Christmas is so close and the shopping has not yet started! Well, fear not for I have pulled together a few items that would make any lady on your list happy Christmas morning. All of these retailers can commit to delivering the items before Christmas, provided you order in the next few days.
December 14, 2016 12/14/2016
For the fourth week of the #CTLCookieExchange we are shaking things up and baking bars instead of traditional cookies. Raspberry Oatmeal Bars to be precise! These bars are chewy, sweet and smell a-mazing coming out of the oven. They need to cool completely in the pan before cutting, which is actually the hardest part about baking these bars - waiting to eat them! The raspberry oatmeal bars are made with only six ingredients, all of which you probably have on hand. They take about 10 minutes to prepare, 35 to bake, and another 20 to cool so in about an hour you have a homey tasting bar ready to share...or eat all to yourself. No judgement here! They also freeze beautifully so you can save them for the holidays or leave one out to enjoy with a cuppa tea.
December 13, 2016 12/13/2016
With only 11 days (yes, I just said that...11 days!) until Christmas, now is that time to assess what holiday soirées you will be hosting and determine exactly what you need to stock your bar cart. In Ontario we are lucky enough to have the LCBO which is basically Toy R Us for adults. Even people who do not drink, love to visit the LCBO. Their displays are always lovely, and their magazine Food & Drink is coveted by all. I'm not going to lie, I have left with a beautiful bottle from the LCBO of a type of liquor I have never tried, just because I loved the bottle and the display (I'm looking at you St. Germain which I have no idea how to drink!).
December 09, 2016 12/09/2016
Cookbooks make a great Christmas gift. You can give them to experienced cooks, those just starting out, and even to someone you pulled in the holiday gift exchange that you don't really know and have no idea what to get them! They make useful gifts but not just any cookbook will do. I've rounded up ones I have personally tested (I'm pretty sure I have every Martha Stewart book she had ever released), a few that friends of mine have tested, and ones I am dying to get my hands on.
December 08, 2016 12/08/2016
Last weekend the One of A Kind Christmas Show was held in Toronto. I had never been to the OOAK show before and wanted to check it out, and I knew just the girl to show me around. My friend Kendra of Kendra Bester Design, Interior Designer, baker and all around great gal, has attended the OOAK show many times and knew exactly what booths to hit. We had a wonderful time walking and talking, checking out some new-to-us vendors, and even chatting with a few of them! I love when you can meet the artisan and share in the passion for their product, it's always inspiring and informative! Today, I thought I would share a few of my favourite vendors from the show. They all have websites and sell in either online shops or through a store so you can pick up a few one of a kind items for your Christmas shopping. I know Kendra and I sure did!
December 07, 2016 12/07/2016
It's week three of our #CTLCookieExchange and while last week I promised a more grown up cookie...The Youngest just returned from his adventures in Europe and the first thing he, and his big brother asked for, was these Hershey Peanut Butter Blossoms! How could I say no to these cute little (okay, not so little) teenagers! One request from them and I was off to the store looking for the largest pack of Hersey Kisses I could find (I bought two packs of 200g).
December 06, 2016 12/06/2016
Pretty candles always make a great gift item. An uplifting scent is perfect as a get well gift or something warm and spicy as a holiday hostess gift would be greatly appreciated by the gift receiver. So many candles are housed in the most beautiful containers meaning you can still enjoy them long after the candle has burned (you can reuse the vessels for holding pens or make up brushes!).
December 01, 2016 12/01/2016
The CP Holiday Train rolled into small town Ayr, Ontario this week and kicked off the holiday season by reminding us that this is also a season of giving. The purpose of the CP Holiday Train is to spread cheer through their decorated train, provide entertainment through their musical performances at each stop, and to collect food donations for local food banks throughout North America. All the money and food donations collect at each stop, stay in that area.
This year CP is raising awareness of heart disease, as it is a growing health challenge in North America. They are asking for healthy food donations at their stops and encouraging you to also donate to your local food bank. The items most in need are:
- grain products
- vegetables & fruit (canned but ask your local food bank if they accept fresh)
- milk products
- meat & alternatives
The CP Holiday Train is a great family activity, especially for little ones. The Oldest and I stood along the tracks with many (many, many) little ones who were beyond excited to see the "choo-choo with the lights" go by. The crowds gathered around performance stage were incredibly large, something I was not expecting from such a small town, but the I totally understand given who the performers are: Dallas Smith (who I saw this summer and was amazing!), Odds, Kelly Prescott, Doc Walker and Colin James! *They don't all perform together, check your stop to see who will be performing.
There is still time to see the CP Holiday Train for yourself, they still have stops in Illinios, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Saskatchewan, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and B.C. ending on December 17, 2016. You can check their schedule here.
And one last plug, this season please remember to give generously to your local food bank. Let's help our neighbours have a Happy Christmas!
November 30, 2016 11/30/2016
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.
November 29, 2016 11/29/2016
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!).
November 24, 2016 11/24/2016
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
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
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
Sephora - Black Friday gifts sets and free shipping over $50
November 23, 2016 11/23/2016
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 MeltawaysOriginal 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.
November 22, 2016 11/22/2016
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!
November 17, 2016 11/17/2016
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.
November 16, 2016 11/16/2016
November 15, 2016 11/15/2016
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!
November 14, 2016 11/14/2016
November 11, 2016 11/11/2016
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.
November 09, 2016 11/09/2016
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
November 08, 2016 11/08/2016
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!
October 31, 2016 10/31/2016
Sharing my Oogie Boogie pumpkin carving from last year. Tonight we will be watching scary movies while shelling out to the neighbourhood children. I can't wait to see all the little costumes and reminisce of the costumes my boys once wore (they are both officially done with trick or treating).
After today I am planning on a week long break from blogging. You can still follow along on Instagram @Celebratingthislife and I will see you back here next Monday!