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Christmas food ideas

White mantel 1 White Mantel 3


White wall unit


I can't believe Christmas is almost upon us.  Having had the stomach flu last Christmas Eve and having to pretend that I felt ok on Christmas makes me especially look forward to this year.  We went to the Distillery Christmas Market on Sunday night and although it was PACKED, it definitely put me in a festive mood.  We ( I ) had some mulled wine, listened to music and went to Cluny for dinner.  It was a lovely evening.  So lovely that Peter woke up the next day asking if we could go back.

I'm almost done wrapping but I still intend to light a fire tonight, drink some eggnog, watch a Christmas movie and make the best of what I still have to do.  Today is going to be packed with last minute food shopping and prep.  Yesterday I was looking through pinterest for breakfast and dessert ideas.  I found this awesome salted caramel chocolate tart to make for Christmas Eve.  I went to William Sonoma to buy the pretty tart tray and the fleur de sal.  I am planning on making these little no bake individual nutella cheesecakes for Christmas Day.

As for Christmas morning/brunch.  I was thinking of making these ricotta pancakes and putting together a nice cheese tray that will probably include some truffled brie, a chevre noir, old cheddar and a big chunk of parm.  Add some bread and crackers, meats and some honey and truffle oil and you're good to go.  It's nice to just put out food that people can just go back to snack on as the morning turns into afternoon and you sip on your mimosas.

I was looking through Food and Wine Magazine and came across these roasted grape ricotta crostini's which I think would be awesome and it made me think back several years ago when Kate and I went to Campagnolo and we had this delicious burrata cheese with roasted grapes.  I found the recipe and made it at home and again loved it.  So if you're looking for something new and yummy give it a go.  No one will be disappointed.

As for my second mantle I decided to keep it simple.  I just spray painted the little wooden wreaths white and hung a gold ornament on them.   I added some mercury glass tea light holders and put the battery operated tea lights in so my juju doesn't set on fire and the stockings.  Everything is white, silver and gold in my living room.

I hope most of your Christmas prep is done and that you can enjoy these last few days before the holidays really begin.




Christmas Baking





Every year I bake for Christmas. I have two staples that I make for two reasons: they are both simple beyond and they both taste delicious!  I fell in love with Williams Sonoma peppermint bark over a decade ago when they were handing out samples in the store. I couldn't get enough. But they charge $30 for a tin. That makes for an expensive habit. So when I later came across a recipe in the Food and Drink holiday magazine, I hoped that I had found a solution.  Indeed it tasted just the same. And it was quick and easy.

The other thing I make for the holidays is my mother's shortbread. Hers always tasted the best to me. No frills, no flavours, just melt in your mouth cookies. Literally, they melt in your mouth.

Here are the recipes - great for gifts too.

Peppermint Bark

1 lb chopped bittersweet chocolate

8 drops peppermint oil

1 lb chopped white chocolate

3/4 cup chopped candy canes

Line an 11x17 inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Adjust amounts for different sized cookie sheets. Set aside.

Melt bittersweet chocolate in a heavy pot on low heat, stiffing constantly. Stir in 4 drops peppermint oil.

Spread chocolate evenly onto the prepared sheet. Chill until set, about 1 hour.

Melt white chocolate on low heat, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining 4 drops of peppermint oil, then add candy canes.

Spread white chocolate mixture over chilled dark chocolate, spreading to the edge of the pan. Chill until set, about 4 hours or overnight. Refridgerate until just before serving then break into pieces and serve or package as gifts. Will keep in refrigerator for 3 weeks.

Recipe courtesy of FOOD AND DRINK magazine 2003 holiday edition

My Mom's Shortbread

1 lb butter

1 c fruit sugar

3 1/2 c pre sifted flour

1/4 tsp salt

Mix with beater. Roll into a log and refrigerate. When ready to bake, pull from fridge and slice in 1 inch pieces and place on parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degree until edges are brown.





Loving now

So I've always had a girl crush/fashion crush on Sienna Miller....and Caroline Bessette Kennedy and Gwyneth Paltrow.  Back to Sienna though she is on the cover of vogue for January and I've yet to read the article but I did watch the video and if you read celebrity magazine articles like I do, you'll get a good laugh.  Seriously, it's worth a few minutes of your time on a dreary Monday. You can find it here.

I've been eyeing this 3.1 Phillip Lim 31 hour bag for the last month or so.  It's such a classic and would hold everything from work stuff to diapers.

I must say I'm partial to an orange red lip but I saw this amazing new red lip a little while ago on Garance Dore and thought it was a great look unlike any I've seen before.  A little edgy, sexy and classic all at once.  Both shades are good on their own as well.

I'm really into pineapples right now.  My mother in law just bought me a cute little black one that I intend to put on my mantel once all the christmas decor is off.  I saw this gleaming Isla candle and wanted it right away.  It's my daughters name, gold, a pineapple and a candle all in one.  I think it also makes a great hostess gift for the holidays.


Image at top right from



Fondu night

Fondu 1 Fondu 2

Fondu 3

Okay, I have talked about my idea to do a fondu night to sooooooo many people and planned it soooooo many times that it is almost a joke.  I have tried to do it at least 3 times and it kept getting cancelled for various reasons.  Last night the plan was to go out for dinner with a few of my friends in the spirit of (excuse of) Christmas and of course Mike's flight got cancelled and therefore, so did my night out but luckily fondu night came to the rescue.  My whole idea was to replicate an experience I had in Paris 4 years ago.  We went to this hole in the wall in Montmartre that was recommended to us for fondu and I loved it.  They served us a cheese fondu and a broth to do meat fondu with a side of charcuterie. It was so cozy and warm and great for enjoying conversation and wine. The essential thing is that your charcuterie platter must have something crisp to cut the richness.  Think fruit, pickles, olives, nuts.

I picked a fondu recipe that had Champagne in it instead of Sherry because I wanted to start the evening off with something crisp and bubbly and if the bottles already open then you must partake, right!  Also I must say that this is super easy and fast to prepare.  I think it took me 15 min tops to get everything ready.  I went to the cheese store and asked for them to grate the emmentaler and I roughly chopped the brie.  While there you can pick up everything else.  Which ever meats, olives, pickles, nuts and dried fruits you like and then finish it off with some cubed baguette.  I also did a side of boiled new potatoes which is good for those that are gluten free. You can also do asparagus, apples, pears and mushrooms.

Here's the recipe I used courtesy of Bride & Groom - First and Forever cookbook (the title makes me laugh)

We ended the night with salted caramel ice cream, chocolate chip cookies and nutella rice crispy squares.  I'm actually happy that our night out was cancelled!  Also, if I promised you a fondu night I will follow through because like I said it was too easy and too good not to do again.  As for where to find a fondu set...I would head to your parents storage area like I did.




The story of our house and a great photographer

We booked our photographer Nicholas to take pictures of a dining room we've been working on. Unfortunately, the prints we ordered for the space hadn't arrived yet, so rather than waste his time, we asked Nicholas to take pictures of my house instead. Nicholas is very professional and does not rest until he gets the shot he wants. I had to force him to eat in the middle of the day because he hadn't stopped working. Not to mention that he manages to capture the best angles, the best lighting and all that other magic that great photographers do. If you've seen pics of my house on here in the past, you will notice a big difference in the quality of photography. He is fantastic. You can reach him at


Chris and I lived in an old century home on a busy street. We loved our home and our neighbourhood but as soon as Max was able to scoot around on a bike, the street seemed busier and our joined nostalgia of growing up playing in front of our houses became ever more prominent. Chris was still resisting a move but on the long weekend of September ( a year and a half ago) my MLS surfing paid off. I showed him a listing for a simple two story home on a cul de sac in our neighbourhood. The fixer in him was sold. I believe what he said was, you can do anything with a brick house, so we bought it on a whim.  And that's when I started to get nervous because the house was not the one of my dreams but I knew this was my one opportunity to move and I loved the street.

So fast forward 8 months and a reno that turned into a gut and an add-on and a dig-down and a build-out and we got ourselves an open floor plan, white walls, an ensuite and walk in closet never previously had, and a finished basement to host all of the kids' toys. Ta da!

Here are some pics of our home, minus the basement and a couple bathrooms and my closet which was too messy to photograph.  It is forever a work in progress because I am constantly wanting a different look or feel but that's also all the fun, right?


















Andrea and I came across the most beautiful take on a slipcover today at Elte. I am totally smitten. They are a loose, inviting version of the standard slipcover.  Kind of like a linen curtain draped on a couch but with just the right amount of stitching in all the right places. Even the amount of gathering on the floor is perfect. And if you can find someone to make one, even better, cause this one doesn't come cheap. Take a look:







I just think they look really cozy and easy.  Not like those stuffy couches that you're afraid to sit on. Plus, from a practical standpoint, how easy would this be to remove and wash?




Colour coordinated gift wrapping

ikea wrapping It's a two post day!  I'll make it short.  Have you been to Ikea recently!?  I was pretty pumped when I saw an entire section dedicated to wrapping.  It's all colour coordinated to make your Christmas wrapping super easy and pretty.  I'm talking several different colour schemes all laid out for you to make your entire Christmas look come together effortlessly. There is a black and white scheme, a brown paper and gold, a pink, a red and a green scheme. There are bags, wrapping paper, tissue paper, tags, tape and ribbon that all go together.  This will be my first Christmas of going for the cohesive wrapping look that looks great with your tree. I'm usually the type of person that goes into my old bags from Christmas past.  Some may have other peoples' names on them, some may have some small rips.  Not this year!  Not when Ikea makes it that easy!  Now I just have to get around to buying some presents...



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A Christmas mantle

  mantle 1

mantle 3

mantle 4

I finished both of my mantle's yesterday.  I gave it a go this weekend but trying to do it while the kids ran around left me with some seriously lacking results.  I tried the hang a wreath on the gold mirror approach with lots of tea lights but it didn't sit right.  I kept trying to like it and thought if maybe I added a bow to the wreath I may like it but no.  I knew all along I wanted a garland and had my heart set on this faux one from Lowes that I saw on Cityline last Thursday.  I searched for it but it was gone.  I decided to just go with the real deal and bought a white pine garland instead and I must say I do love it.  I also found the faux wood and gold "merry christmas" garland that I have hanging from Chapters for 40% off on Monday.  I kept it simple with LED candles and some restoration hardware battery operated twinkle lights.  Mike actually threw the gold ornaments in the garland as he said "it ties it all together with the gold mirror" with his fake Amanda voice.  I told him I actually agree and left them in.  I will post my other mantle once I "dewrinkle" my stockings but I must say the above one is my favourite.  I love, love, love turning all my twinkle lights on in the morning when it's still dark out.  It makes it a little less painful to wake up.


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Side table

Kate, Side table 1

I'm on the hunt for a great side table.  As of now, I keep returning to the one above.  When I initially started planning my living room it was going to be very light.  Think a lot of cream, white and light wood.  Then I bought some black chairs and the whole look changed and now I'm into a lot of black, white, cream and light wood.  Reading that may seem like all I did was add one colour but I intend to do a mood board so that everyone can see how different the looks really are.  The chairs really did change the whole feel. (I will post them shortly along with my new mantle!!!)  It's amazing how you can go into decorating a room with a plan and then you can find one piece and the whole thing changes on a dime.

Anyway back to the table, the black and light wood tie in the chairs and I love the midcentury look.  I also love that it's multi-functional, it can be used as a tray, a stool or a side table.  Check it out here.  Plus for $199.95 it's a good deal.  No purchases will be made until after Christmas so I have a lot of time to think on exactly what is right for the space.  Stay tuned.



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Gallery wall

Kate, GW 3

GW 2

GH 1

Gallery wall side

Gallery wall front

I once had two bookcases in my room but I sold them this weekend and put up a gallery wall instead.  The bookcases were good in theory but I ended up just dumping junk in them.  Things like batteries, lightbulbs, a pack of gum (Mike). Random stuff that every month or so I would sort and throw out but just add to again. It basically didn't look the way I wanted it to most of the time.  I also needed a change.  Originally I thought I would do floating shelves again but that wouldn't have eliminated my issue of random collection.  I had a bunch or art work, framed photos and mirrors that were just lying around and I decided to use what I had and get a little creative instead of spending money.  I started the process on my bedroom floor and began from the middle and worked outwards.  I just kept standing up on my bed and looking down on my progress.  It really didn't take me very long...what took a while was what Mike had to do, the actual hanging process.  Especially since his little helper isn't always the best listener.  Regardless I'm super happy with it and I love waking up to something that is so personal.  Sometimes you really do need to change things up.

As for what I still need to do well, I think I'm going to add a basket to cover one of my outlets. The one a currently have is little too low so I may have to switch a few baskets that I already have around.  I also really want to add either two small frames in the middle where there is a gap or one mid size one with a black and white print.  I have my eye on either this or this.  I just have to make up my mind but I'm leaning towards the black and white from


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the best type of pant

Kate, pants

I had to get in a quick post since I don't want you to order anything before you see these!  I especially love how they are styled with the oxfords, moto jacket and black top on shopbop. Only problem is that I'm going to buy them so if you don't mind that we match have at 'em. After our discussion about you wanting my zara pants or ones just like it because they have an elastic waist and yet look like you're trying, I came home and was checking out lunchpailsandlipstick and stumbled upon the above beauties!  They fit the bill. Stylish and super comfortable.  Gotta love them. FYI - they also come in leopard for all you animal print lovers out there.

Enjoy your friday night everyone!  It's a pizza and wine kinda night here.  Simply the best.



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Hello again, here's my new obsession

Kate, My blogging record has sucked for the past few months.  I'm sorry!  All I can say is that trying to navigate this new piece in our lives has taken some adjustment and sometimes something has to give and unfortunately it's been the blog.  Also, Isla is at this stage that lasts a good 8 months where you feel like you can't get much accomplished because she is a constant danger to herself. Luckily I'm a few months in already so I think I have about 6 months more to go...but I have a few posts in mind this week so I'm vowing to do better.

I thought I would share something I'm considering right now for my living room.  Ta da!  The sheepskin stool!  stools

 Via La Dolce Vita

A little bit soft, a little bit glam and a whole lot of cool.  I've liked them for a while but just recently have been having one of those can't stop thinking about them obsessions.  I'm going between the stools or the bench but I think I may ask for these for Christmas.  That or a treatment at W skin care but that's a whole other post.

Back to the stool or bench.  I found these here and here so far but I'm kinda digging the gold on the ones on the pic above.



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These ones are affordable

Amanda, I meant to tell you about these today but they just slipped my mind. Andrea told me about a denim company out of LA called Articles of Society. Their jeans are apparently a great fit, created by people with previous experience working for high quality denim brands except they were determined to offer something more affordable. The average price point is $54!!!!

Stark contrast to my post about the $500 jean...

Does anyone out there own a pair?




They have a charcoal motto jean that made me think of you. They can be found here.


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Riverdale House

Amanda, I'm a real estate junkie. I love the thrill of the list, the staging, the wait, then the bargaining and the sale... it's all so exciting. I also really like seeing how people live - it's fascinating being able to see inside peoples homes. So I watch mls every day to see what's out there even though we don't have any intention of moving.

I found this one today in South Riverdale. I love the exterior. It reminds me a bit of those NYC brownstones I blogged about a while back. I also love the kitchen - modern and clean. Take a look:







e3019779_17This listing can be found at, E3019779, 100 Hogarth Ave.



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Happy Thanksgiving

Amanda, We had such a beautiful Thanksgiving. We were up at the cottage and the leaves were turning and the weather was warm enough to be outside all day but cold enough to cozy by the fire at night. My mom and aunt, in usual form, made a delicious dinner - all the fixings. I particularly love her stuffing. It's crusty on the outside and is perfectly seasoned.

The highlight this weekend, however, was watching Max play outdoors. I had a moment on Sunday when I watched him charge through the trees with a stick in his hand, immersed in boyhood play, so carefree and lost in his imagination. It was beautiful.

I am so thankful for him. I am also thankful for his beautiful sister and my amazing husband. I am thankful for the rest of my family and all my friends. I am thankful to have the opportunity to eat a fantastic meal in an autumn oasis.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving too.

IMG_4565 IMG_4569 IMG_4571

IMG_4577 IMG_4581 IMG_4582


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Holly & Ivy

Kate, one love 2


There's been a lot of talk in the last few years about products that are safe for your children, your body and your home.  I try to do some things but without a doubt I could do better. I buy safe bath products for my kids, I use vinegar to clean almost everything, I use Dr. Bronner's body wash and a free of sulphates shampoo but that's about yes, I could do a lot better.

Some companies market themselves as being free of chemicals that cause cancer without being completely truthful.  They are supposed to be "safe" and then I'm reading on goop that it really isn't all that it's marketed to be which leads me to be angry at myself for not being more thorough. There's a list of chemicals that we are supposed to look out for when buying products but to be truthful, in my case, I don't actually pick up the bottle to look through the list of ingredients.  I do a quick scan at the packaging of the products and if I see "free of sulphates and parabens" I throw it in the basket the majority of the time.  I need someone else to do the research for me because when I'm in a store with my kids it's a quick in and out with no time to peruse slowly through the aisle's.  I'm sure a lot of you feel the same.  That's why Holly & Ivy is such a great find.  Holly & Ivy is Donna Sheenan's brain child and passion. The link between breast cancer and the products we put on our body is real and she recognized a need for a one stop shop for all beauty related products that are both"luxurious and healthy."  Which is HUGE for me because I really, really do not want to sacrifice a great product/outcome for a product that is healthy or vice versa.  I want both!  The best part though is that 50 percent of their net profit is donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Support Fund.

Donna was kind enough to send me a few samples. I love samples! I was pretty giddy when I opened the pretty box full of samples.  I used the One Love Organics product line in Hawaii and I have to say that I loved Skin Saviour Waterless.  It has an awesome orange smell and moisturizes really well.  I love that it has many uses-makeup remover, moisturizer, hair tamer.  It feels greasy initially but then miraculously is absorbed into the skin quickly and leaves it baby soft.  I also loved the Morning Glory Complexion Brightening Booster.  It made my skin feel silky and gave it a nice glow. (My aunt actually literally told me out of nowhere that my skin was glowing!) I have to say I'm huge on the glow.  I use a vitamin C serum because it's anti aging but also because I notice a difference in the glow factor.  My serum is pretty expensive though so I would happily trade that in for this product.  My favourite is Brand New Day.  You can use it as a scrub or a masque, I've only done the scrub, but it leaves your skin feeling super clean and smooth.

I'm now about to move on to the Elizabeth Dehn product line.  There will be a review of them after I use up my samples but from the write up and the packaging, I'm a sucker for pretty packaging, I think I'm going to love it.  I'm also going to purchase the John Masters Organic hair care line because I've read about it several times and have only heard excellent things.  I'm that girl with the frizzy dry hair, which I also bleach, so I need a really great conditioner.  I've yet to find one that is a healthy option that is good enough to tame my mane!  I'm very hopeful that the above conditioner will do the job.

I know good products are an investment but I really believe investing in your skin is money well spent.  I always notice if someone has beautiful skin and it's only going to become more important as we age.  I also love putting something on my skin that is guilt free.  So check it out, get some samples if you feel unsure and be good to yourself.  Here's to health and beauty!




Caitlin Flemming and Sacramento Street

Kate, Have you ever noticed that you tend to pin the same persons pins repeatedly on pinterest? Almost to the point that you may as well not even bother having a pinterest because really you can just look at the other persons page because it so accurately describes what you love.  I feel that way about Caitlin Flemming and her pinterest page.  I repin A LOT of her stuff.  She also has a blog that I love with great fashion picks, recipes and design.  Here are some of the images that I recently pinned from her that I'm finding very inspirational at the moment.



CF 1


CF 3




CF 4

via domainehome

CF 6

On a personal note, I've decided to get a head start on Halloween and by that I do not mean sewing costumes...I mean eating an unspeakable amount of mini chocolates.  The trick is to fight the moment of weakness when the little devil on your shoulder tells you can just have one because that never happens.




$500 JEANS

Amanda, So I was perusing Madewell's site and came across a pair of jeans that reminded me of the old-school 501's that every model wore growing up and managed to look so comfortable and so stylish in at the same time. Since I have a pair of Madewell jeans, I didn't even glance at the price because I was assuming they'd be around the $150 mark, since that's what I spent on mine and I'm getting excited because they are kind of like the boyfriend jeans that I own and would wear everyday, but a bit more tailored. Then I notice the price tag and gasp. $506.00!

Now I'm thinking, what is so special about these jeans that they are worth this much? The description talks about how they are made out of a special jean that you can only get in Japan call Chimala and while all of this information and the price tag should turn me away it actually does the opposite - I start obsessing about how amazing they must be!

Take a look.

And anyone reading, let me know if you have these or know anyone who does? I'm intrigued.



Here's the link if you want to check them out yourself: madewell chimala denim




Reblog: Smitten studio bathroom

Amanda, I love Sarah Sherman Samuel's style and so much that she posts on her blog, Smitten Studio. She recently wrote about her bathroom renovation and the details are beautiful: square sinks, gold hardware, honeycomb tile and a touch of marble. You will love it.








Look at this bed

Amanda, I saw this bed in the latest issue of Style at Home and have never seen anything like it. The lines, the simplicity, the wood. It's beautiful.






Via cb2

What I like most about this bed is how low it is to the ground - our bed is the same. Since our kids often end up sleeping with us it means they can crawl in and curl up without even waking me (not chris since he is a super light sleeper.)

Here are some cute pillows from cb2 since i was already on the site perusing. They would look great propped on this awesome bed.