Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Gifts

My Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer in Black Onyx

A beautiful pillow made by my mum

My iPOD nano

Mini Moisturizing Kit

A little glitz for my cupcakes...

As per usual, I was very spoiled Christmas Day. Santa brought me everything I had asked for...and then some! I received some beautiful handmade gifts made with love by my mum, including a gorgeous pillow complete with sepia transfers (you can purchase these at Michael's and they are absolutely fabulous for updating pillows or tote bags). My brother bought me an iPOD (in my favourite colour), loaded with all of my favourite songs, and a sprinkle set for my cakes/cupcakes which will give them a little glitz!

My stocking was stuffed with chocolates, gift certificates and mini spa-essentials, including a mini-moisturizing kit from J.R. Watkins Apothecary. Their body lotions are 100% organic, natural, and they do not perform animal testing (something that we always look for on the products we use), not to mention the fact that they smell delicious!
I also got a gorgeous pair of black 'suede' boots and copious amounts of clothes from the Gap and Banana Republic. I highly recommend visiting both stores now, as their boxing day sales are out of this world. But, my favourite gift of all would have to be my Black Onyx Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer...I can't wait to try it out!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying the holidays!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Patinage de glace

Yesterday night my dad and I took advantage of the free skating at our local arena. I haven't been on skates since I was 14, so it was a bit of a challenge to get back into the swing of things. I joked that I would probably spend the majority of the night in the children's section, skating with the assistance of a chair in an attempt to gain some balance. But, the old adage is's just like riding a bicycle. I eventually found my groove and we spent a good hour and a half on the rink. I was surprised that the rink wasn't more crowded, since I remember as a child my dad having to circle the arena a few times before finding a parking space.

We came home shortly afterwards and warmed up to some hot chocolate by the fire, and watched a few Christmas movies before they get packed up with the rest of the Christmas decor.

I think I will be able to fit in a few more winter sports before I head back to school to begin my second term. Most of the snow is still on the ground...maybe I can convince my brother to find our toboggan so we can head over to a snowy hill! Those skis of mine are also calling my name...

Friday, December 26, 2008

My (2nd) Favourite Day of the Year

I confess...even after all of the presents have been opened Christmas Day I count down the hours until Boxing Day arrives. Beginning November 1st, I begin my Christmas countdown. As soon as Hallowe'en is over and done with, the pumpkin/Fall-inspired decorations are packed away and the Christmas decor comes out. There is nothing like listening to Johnny Mathis sing White Christmas while gingerbread cookies are baking in the oven, the table gets its Christmas makeover for parties, and the lights begin to be strung from the fence in the front yard.
While I am a self-confessed Christmas junkie (I insist the decorations stay out until February), I can't help my Boxing-Day-Countdown. I love a bargain, not to mention the thrill that goes along with getting a great deal. (Early) this morning, we headed out to Home Outfitters where the Christmas stock was 60% off, including a few not-so-Christmas items (a set of 2 pillows was $5 and Oneida silverware was $20!). I couldn't pass up this $20 white tea set, $10 Mercury glass tree topper and $8 Mercury glass candle sticks...I think I might have begun a new collection!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Christmas Tribute to My Best Friend

"The dog of your boyhood teaches you a great deal about friendship, and love, and death: Old Skip was my brother. They had buried him under our elm tree, they said — yet this wasn't totally true. For he really lay buried in my heart. "

-Willie Morris, My Dog Skip

These past few months have been a whirlwind of ups and downs, both good and bad. I began the month of September pursuing my Master's degree at a beautiful university in a beautiful new city, and have met many wonderful, unique people along the way. I spent my days in the library and my weekends and nights out exploring the city with friends. But, eventually, I grew homesick and when Thanksgiving came around, I couldn't wait to visit with friends and family...and of course, my beautiful black lab, Ben...back home. Unfortunately, it was during this weekend back home that I learned my best friend had passed away.
Over the summer I noticed he was growing tired and was beginning to show his age, though he still had a skip, hop and a jump in his step. Then Fall rolled around and his 'kids' went off to school. He started slowing down and slept most of the days away. He passed away on a crisp autumn afternoon when the leaves were starting to turn their rich golden colours.
Yesterday night I came home from Christmas shopping and on my way in the house, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a star twinkling. I am sure that star will follow me forever, and keep a watchful eye over me.
Ben, I will love you and miss you forever.
Goodbye my sweet friend.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Blog Award!

My mum has given me the "I Love Your Blog" award! Thank you, mum!

The rules are...

*Put the logo on your blog

*Link the person from whom your received the award

*Nominate at least 7 other blogs

*Post a link to those blogs

*Leave a message letting them know you have passed the award on to them

I am giving the award to...

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Lemon Lover's Dream...

After having been 'start struck' a few weeks back meeting Anna Olson at her bakery in Port Dalhousie, and having tried one of the lemon squares there, I was inspired to bake my own.
This recipe is adapted from Anna's own recipe, which is featured in her cookbook, Sugar. As the ultimate lemon lover in our house, I can attest (and so can my waist line) to the fact that these squares have been made on a weekly basis since meeting Anna...they are just THAT good!
The finished product is meant to cool entirely and then refrigerated, but, in our house, the lemon squares barely make it out of the oven before they are devoured!
So pucker those lips up and get ready to enjoy these squares as much as we do!
Ultimate Lemon Squares
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 cup + 2 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
*Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan
*For the crust: In a medium bowl, cream the softened butter with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the icing sugar and 1 cup of the flour, and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium, and beat until well blended. Press the dough firmly over the bottom of the pan. Bake in the over for 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Set aside to cool.
*For the topping: In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, granulated sugar, remaining 2 1/2 tsp of the flour, the lemon juice and the zest. Beat with the electric mixer on low speed until well blended. Spread over the cooled crust and return to the oven for 20-25 minutes more, until set. Let cool thoroughly in the pan before cutting into 2-inch squares. Dust with icing sugar.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Christmas In August

Christmas came a little earlier than usual for me....
Having had no luck Saturday mornings at garage sales, mum and I had very little hope that this past Saturday would be any different than the Saturdays before it. Boy, were we wrong! Our first stop was at a street just around the corner from our house and it always seems to us that the closer the garage sale is to home, the better the finds always are!
The couple told us that they were downsizing after having lived in their adorable bungalow for about 30 years, having raised their own children there who were now married and starting families of their own. There were boxes and boxes of old Nancy Drew books, board games from the '70s, and '60s Life magazines that I was itching to get my hands on.
After having stocked up on most of the magazines and other goodies, I spotted, out of the corner of my eye, a box full of vintage blown glass Christmas ornaments...shades of pink, white and blue had been handpainted onto the glass, which was then adorned with German glass glitter and other pretty novelties. Some of the ornaments even had their original ornament hook attached to them. I knew right then and there that I just HAD to have them!
Later on in the day I spotted a silver Christmas tree (exactly what I had been looking for for years!), with silvery, glittery bristles...perfect for showcasing those gorgeous ornaments!
So, with Christmas just a few months away (119 days to be exact - but who's counting?), it was the perfect little fix to get me into the Christmas mood...and give me hope that I will be just as lucky this Saturday morning as I was last!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day Trip

One of the highlights of summer vacation are the day trips you are afforded to take - no time limit, no pre-planning necessary - you can pack the car in an instant, pack a light picnic lunch and be out of the door in minutes flat. This summer, like plenty of summers before it, was filled with picnics at the beach, theatre in the park, car trips, sightseeing, antique hunting, and plenty of small-town adventures. The best day trips are also the ones that were not planned - they're the small towns you stumble upon as you make the transition from city life to country life, and they are often the very places that you'll find plenty of treasures and favourite shops.

At the beginning of the month, we spent one morning debating on what to do and where to go until we finally decided to hop in the car and venture out of the city. We didn't know where we were headed, but hey, that's part of the fun, right? Well, that afternoon we happen to have ended up in Perth, Ontario, a small heritage town with lots to offer in the way of fabulous shops. One such shop was a vintage-inspired furniture/jewellery/home decor store, so you can just imagine my and mum's delight when we found it! A French mold and antique white birdcage adorned the display case, while a beautiful refurbished vintage kitchen table sat outside. With white and pink accents galore, we knew we had to stop in and visit. Antique pictures and books, costume jewellery, refurbished armoires, dressers and bed frames...ohh la la! This store met all of our needs, and gave me plenty of design ideas for my own apartment.
So, no matter where you end up you are bound to have an adventure. And, who knows, along the way you may find a favourite destination spot to visit in the years to come...I know I did!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Regatta Championships

A few weeks ago, we visited Port Dalhousie, a heritage district located in St. Catherines (otherwise known as the "Garden City") to watch the 126th Royal Canadian Henley Regatta Championships. We had a great view from the stands, and enjoyed cheering all the teams on.

We also enjoyed browsing through the "marketplace" which was located just a few blocks down the road, and came across Olson Foods and Bakery. As you all know, not only am I a HUGE Food Network fan, but, I am also a huge Anna Olson fan - I never miss a single episode of "Fresh" and still watch re-runs of "Sugar". So, you can just imagine my surprise when I stumbled into her bakery only to see her standing there! Talk about star struck! So, I hurriedly ran to the cash register and picked up a copy of one of her cookbooks to have signed, fixed my hair quickly and grabbed my camera out of my purse. She was so friendly, provided me with lots of baking advice, and then told us which farmer's market stands to visit on our way back home to the city. Of course, we had to check one very big thing off of our 'TO DO' list before we did anything else - sample the desserts at the bakery...we got a date square, pecan butter tart, lemon square, raspberry square and a s'mores bar...absolutely delish! And, hey, we couldn't leave without trying one of everything.
On our way back home, we stopped off at the fruit and veg stands Anna had suggested and picked up some corn on the cob, green beans, potatoes, rhubarb, and berries for dinner/dessert. What a great day!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Beautiful Mess

The nest has relocated! On the first of the month, I packed up as much as I possibly could and headed towards my new "nest" for the year - a one-bedroom apartment in a beautiful city which offers the best of both worlds: flashy club life by night and artsy village by day.
I packed everything from my Queen size bed and mattress to my wire French dress mold (I couldn't forget her, now could I?), and a whole lotta little bits in between! I wanted to give you all a sneak peak of my new pad, and will post more pictures once EVERYTHING looks all fancy-shmancy. It's missing a certain something right now - colour, maybe? Nothing a bouquet of fresh flowers won't cure!
The apartment offers a ton of space, including 3 closets (although, and I'm sure you can all relate here, there is still not enough space or shelves for all my clothes, handbags and shoes).
I'm really looking forward to cooking my first meal in my brand spankin' new apartment!
Any special recipes out there you could share with me for my first night?

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Stratford Festival

This past weekend, we packed our bags and a picnic lunch and ventured off to Stratford to watch Shakespeare's "All's Well That End's Well" at the Stratford Festival. I had never been to Stratford before, but was pleasantly surprised as soon as we came across the quaint antique shops, worn and aged signs that paid homage to the town's heritage and traditions, and the vast amount of rich, green farm land - complete with horses, cows, and sheep....everything a city girl dreams about coming across one day!

We spent our days walking up and down Ontario Street - Stratford's version of L.A.'s Rodeo Drive. This street stretched for what seemed like miles and we shopped through the small boutiques hunting for bargains and small-town treasures - including books, clothes, home decor, and my personal items at Bradshaw's. This was a store established in 1895 and it has grown to include everything from dishes and home decor items to linens and the most unique and modern kitchen appliances you could think of. I ended up buying a beautiful glass mannequin hand which will display all of my bracelets and rings.

I, of course, had to make a 'pit stop' to the nearest Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and pick up some Rocky Road fudge, a caramel apple, and some ice cream (the bare essentials), all while stuffing my face with free samples. What can I say, I'm a multitasker. To top it off, I showed off my natural born talent as a crazy city tourist taking numerous shots of the master chocolatier and his chocolate wheel (which I've already asked for for Christmas). I can only imagine what the locals thought...

We spent each morning enjoying breakfast down by the lake, taking copious shots of the famous Stratford swans, the stunning lake, and the beautiful trees while enjoying the gorgeous weather. In the evening, we divided our time between swimming laps in the enormous pool, relaxing in the hot tub, playing pool on the hotel's antique billiard table, and dining in the downtown bistros. We spent our last evening enjoying the play "All's Well That Ends Well" at the Festival Theatre, starring Brian Dennehy. The play, by the way, aside from the occasional obscure Shakespearean jargon, was fantastic!

Although there was no meet 'n' greet with Brian Dennehy after the show (sorry Susie!), it was wonderful to get out of the city, away from the noise, pollution, and dare I say, shopping malls, and spend the weekend in beautiful Stratford, Ontario!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Nomination!

I caught up on my favourite blogs this afternoon and discovered that my mum had nominated me for a "Brilliante Weblog" award! Thanks mum!

The rules are...

*Put the logo on your blog

*Add a link to the person who awarded you

*Nominate at least 7 other blogs

* Add their links

*Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs

I have nominated....

1.) Rosemary at Roses Petite Maison - You will love Rosemary's creative endeavours and fabulous vintage finds!

2.) Jeanne at Jeanne's Bliss Blog - Jeanne's positive attitude is infectious and inspirational. If ever you need a boost in your day, you are sure to find it here!
3.) Nita at Red Tin Heart - Nita writes from the heart and her inspirational words are heartfelt. She reminds us to live each day to its fullest.

4.) Susie at Bienvenue - Susie's creations are not only French and fabulous, but her blog is too! Don't forget to visit her Etsy shop and see all of her wonderful designs!
5.) Fifi at Fifi Flowers Decor - Fifi's blog is bright and cheerful! Wonderful artwork and stories to accompany them.

6.) Kathy at French Pedestals and Dreams - Kathy is a treasure are sure to love her unique ideas and fabulous finds which she turns from drab to fab!
7.) Susie at Rabbit Run Cottage - Susie's blog is always uplifting and week, we will be hunting down Brian Dennehy just for you, Susie! :)


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Introducing the New Love of My Life...

Well, here it is folks, my brand spankin' new digital camera!

A few weeks ago when one of my girlfriend's from university was getting married, I found myself stuck the night before the wedding with a broken camera. At that point in the night, the mall was closed so I was left with no other alternative but to run out to the nearest drug store and pick up a disposable camera to capture all of the memories of my friend's big day. Unfortunately for me, not only was I known to the wedding party and all the guests as the girl with the obnoxious disposable camera that was extremely loud and had a flash powerful and bright enough to rupture a retina but, when I had the pictures developed, only 13 of the 30 pictures came through! And, out of those 13, I would say less than half were nice enough to frame.

I think we all have one of these...a camera or just an item in general that we use on a daily basis that is the bane of our existence. Every time I would attempt to take a picture at just the perfect moment, this darn thing sounded like it was about to self-implode and the pictures would come out fuzzy, or crooked, or just didn't look right at all. So, I went out the other night with the intention of buying a brand new digital camera. I didn't know what I wanted, how much I wanted to spend, or what I would end up with...all I knew was that I wanted a camera, and I wanted it now.

I was fortunate to come across an employee who was able to help me stay on somewhat of a student-budget, in order to buy a fabulous Nikon digital camera as well as all of the fixing's (memory card, warranty, printer, camera case).

I will now be able to redeem myself at future girls nights out, weddings, parties and outings in general, plus take pictures of all my crafts and creative designs, with a camera that not only works, but looks pretty darn cute too!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

I spent the afternoon taking pictures of my gorgeous Black lab, Ben and can you blame me? Look at that beautiful white beard, those soulful brown eyes and those devilishly handsome good looks!

Thank you Ben, for being such a wonderful model!

And, as you can see from the American flag in his hand, Benny would like to wish all of you wonderful bloggers a very safe and fun 4th of July holiday! We hope you are having lots of fun and enjoying the company of friends and family today!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Small Wonders

As promised, here are the "egg" and "wish" shadow boxes I made a few days ago during one of our heatwaves. All it took were a few lengths of ribbon, vintage playing cards, scrabble blocks, stamps, stickers and a variety of different ads and pictures taken from antique children's books that I have collected over the years.

For the time being, I think I will have to add these two creations to the ever-growing pile of artwork that has accumulated on my desk, my mum's desk, and a variety of Tupperware bins in our art room.

I guess I should really get around to starting that Etsy shop, huh?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Retro Chic

The weather these past days has gone from one extreme to the other - one minute we have hail and a thunderstorm, and the next minute it's a heatwave! Well, today we happened to have a heatwave, so I spent the majority of the day keeping cool in the basement. My intention was to clean and organize downstairs but, of course, that never happened once I came across a few extra canvases to create...
I decided to go with a "retro chic" look and took black and white polka dot ribbon, pink card stock, stamps, vintage pictures from TIME Magazines (circa 1964), scrabble tiles and of course, some glitz, care of some sequins and glitter.
I also came across two shadow boxes...I'll post those tomorrow!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Scrap Packs

What do you do when it rains for three days straight? Besides watching an endless array of B & W movies and chowing down on chocolate and other tasty treats, of course....Well, I decided to get together all of my additional scrap booking supplies that were left over from other creative endeavours, and put together "scrap packs". Each pack contains one word made out of chipboard and, believe it or not, I think the grand total at last count was 40 packs! I had to stop only because I ran out of my supply of plastic jewellery bags!
I also put together packages of scrap booking paper (4 in each package) with additional paper samples and decos. I'm doing this out of necessity more than anything, because in a months time I will be moving into my own one-bedroom apt. Although there are 3 closets, I have a feeling my clothes and collection of shoes and purses, more than anything, will be taking ownership of those spaces...
A garage sale is in the works, and the money will come in handy for a special mother-daughter trip mum and I have planned in the next few weeks....we'll keep you posted!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Getting Fresh

A glimpse into Anna's kitchen...

It's official:
"Fresh" is my new favourite show. Hosted by Anna Olson, pastry chef and host of Food TV's Sugar, the show follows Anna around her Niagara home and community as she makes delicious meals using only fresh, local and organic produce with a variety of different themes: Country Wedding, Harvest Supper, Spanish Tapas, French Bistro and Block Party, to name but a few. Her mantra? "Eat Local, Eat Fresh."
Not only are the meals she rustles up delicious looking, but her kitchen is an art form in itself. From the black and white tiled floor, the teal painted walls and back splash and the array of red, yellow and orange Le Creuset cookware, to the stainless steel appliances and professional restaurant ovens, Anna's kitchen is like a throwback to a '50s diner, combined with a modern twist.
The comfort foods combined with the playful atmosphere makes me want to run into the kitchen immediately after each episode and attempt to recreate the recipes. I've been dying to try her Pear and Spiced Chocolate Tart, so I'll keep you all posted and promise to post all the mouth-watering pictures to go with it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer Wedding

A friend of mine from university got married over the weekend, and it was quite the event!
It all began with a beautiful outdoor ceremony at a golf and country club- and although we were getting a bit nervous with the forecast having anticipated rain all day, about 2 minutes prior to the ceremony beginning, the sun came out and the weather was beautiful. It was small and cozy, no more than about 75 friends and family members.
After the ceremony, we made our way indoors and enjoyed catching up with old friends over drinks and appetizers, all while watching the bride, groom and wedding party have their pictures taken.
Soon afterwards, the bride and groom joined us in the club, and were introduced prior to dinner as Mr. and Mrs.! To the theme song from Rocky, no less! Dinner was fantastic - soup and salad to start, then prime rib with garlic mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and steamed vegetables. For dessert, NY style cheesecake served with fresh strawberries.
We finished off the night dancing to everything from "Brown Eyed Girl" to "Thriller" (including all the Wacko Jacko dance moves), while taking pictures and stuffing our faces at the midnight dessert trolley - boy, that chocolate mousse sure was good!
The new couple looked beautiful together and we had a fantastic night. I wish them all the best as they begin their new life together...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bargains....and don't we all love those?

The weekend before last, mum and I came across one of those garage sales that you know will be THE garage sale of the wasn't like walking onto a driveway, it was like walking into a store - a store filled with all things French, romantic and vintage. And the best part? It hadn't been advertised in our local paper, so we didn't have to kick and fight our way through the fabulous finds! It was just pure luck...I found lots of fun items - frames, small chalkboard napkin rings from Pottery Barn (never opened!), antique shabby-chic plates, a gorgeous '50s looking cake top, and a chalkboard with the words "Cafe de Paris" written across the top - perfect for the kitchen to write down a grocery or to-do list.

Although this past week was less than successful, to be honest, I've spent the last 2 weeks admiring all these fabulous bargains...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

My Summer Wish List

1.) Go to an outdoor music concert
2.) Canoe in Algonquin Park
3.) Enter an outdoor craft show
4.) Explore the city via bike
5.) Enjoy a picnic at the park
6.) Eat al fresco every night (weather permitting!)
7.) Learn Italian
8.) Travel to Europe
9.) Create art
10.) Visit with friends at outdoor cafes
11.) Go mini-putting
12.) Swim
13.) Visit the library and read books by my favourite authors
14.) Enjoy the garden
15.) Tour the local art gallery
16.) Shop in Toronto
17.) Go garage sale-ing every Saturday with mum
18.) Enjoy long walks with Ben
19.) Go out dancing
20.) Capture every moment of summer on film

What's on your summer wish list?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

"A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts."
-Washington Irving

One of the gifts I gave my mum for Mother's Day this year, was a garden filled with all of her favourite flowers - coneflowers, foxglove, peonies, pansies, snapdragons, delphiniums, columbine and cranberry ice dianthus. The weather was absolutely gorgeous yesterday, so it was the perfect opportunity for me to put on my "gardening clothes" and Crocs, and grab the flowers, soil and shovel to start diggin'!

She got to see the finished product yesterday night, and I'm so happy she loves it!
Happy Mother's Day, Mum! You're the greatest and I love you!