Friday, December 20, 2013

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas....

Today was the first day of Christmas Break for the kids. 
Outside it was cold and rainy, but inside they were rocking the gingerbread house construction!

We did have a slight separation in our roofing which was easily fixed with a breadstick and later lots of icing and candy :)

These kits were from Metro and were a deal at $10 including candy.

Our tree -- the kids want more colour, so maybe we will add some of my vintage ornaments. The monochromatic look just doesn't cut it with them.

I like to add a little bit of holiday throughout the house so I popped some fresh greenery into a vintage canning jar and tied it with this ribbon (which I love) from Lindsay.

I did get a bit of wrapping started today while the kids were busy building houses.

I still love brown paper packages tied with string or pretty ribbon. But I am loving the plaid wrap I found at Target

The rest of our weekend includes some gingerbread baking and lots of wrapping!

Have a great weekend! 


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Host A Cookie Swap!

I hosted my annual Cookie Swap last weekend. So much fun! If you like to bake (or eat!) cookies I encourage you to plan one. It's not too late! 

I thought I'd share the details on how you can host a successful cookie swap.

I have to confess I get a lot of teasing about my "rules" but I highly encourage you set some for your swap. It encourages great quality cookies that everyone will love.


This is the decadent display of sweet cookie bliss that we ended up with. Recipes sources below. You're welcome :)

Recipe Links
1. Cranberry Pecan Noels 2. Shortbread Spritz 
5. Peppermint Merengues 6.Cranberry Shortbread 7. Cranberry Shortbread 8. Lemon Crinkle Cookies 9. Butter pecan Crescent Cookies 10. Chocolate Ginger Cookies 11. Cinnamon Nut Diamonds (see end of post)

"From the Kitchen of" rubber stamp from Penny Paper Co. 
Blank tags from my shop.

Cinnamon Nut Diamonds

1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup butter or margarine (softened)
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk
½ cup ground walnuts or pecans 
1 egg
½ cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix first flour, salt and cinnamon.  Beat butter, sugar, vanilla and egg yolk with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour mixture and ground nuts to butter mixture. Spread in a greased 9 X 13 pan and pat down evenly. Beat egg and brush on dough. Sprinkle evenly with chopped nuts and press into dough.

Bake 25 – 30 minutes 
As your cookie comes out of the oven, cut into desired shape and remove to rack for cooling.
This recipe has been in this bakers family since she was a child. 
It's from Family Circle Magazine circa 1970 (!!)

Happy Baking!


Gifts for the Hostess

I hope these little gift guides help you out with finding unique holiday gifts. Etsy offers loads of unique gift ideas plus you are supporting small businesses, which I love.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

gathering up holiday ideas to share...and jam!

The holiday season is upon us and the absolutely stunning White Issue of Gatherings Magazine launched this past week. 

I was thrilled to contribute a story on holiday wrapping ideas (see above) and honored to be in such great company. 
Thank you Heather.

Visit Gatherings Magazine shop to buy a digital version
or order print copy here 

It's been a busy week full of holiday orders in my shop, holiday baking, school bazaars and parties. I actually love the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. 

This week I attended the Chatelaine Magazine holiday event at West Elm. It was fun to connect with old and new friends. Afterwards, Lindsay and I headed over to Mildred's Temple Kitchen to catch up and enjoyed a delicious meal. We finally tried the famous and oh-so-amazing gnocchi poutine! Go try it. SO GOOD.

A little SHOUT OUT to local preserve Queen - Lesley McDowell

The kids school held their annual Christmas bazaar on Friday. It was an amazing success thanks to the hard work of parent volunteers. While there, I picked up some of my friend Lesley's AMAZING preserves. I stock up every year. My husband can't get enough of it. What I love about her jams (other than how delicious they are) is the story behind them. 

Lesley spends the summer at her cottage in northern Ontario with her family. It sounds beautiful. While she's there, she and her boys forage for berries on their property. The berries they hand-pick end up as preserves that she sells at the Christmas Bazaar! Love that! 

She said that this summer they discovered a raspberry patch that sprung up behind their cottage - it was a good summer for berries. New this year is a jelly made from pin cherries. What the heck is a pin cherry? I don't know but it's delicious.

Lesley discovered the tree and wanted to use the fruit but they are tiny and have seeds. So, Lesley turned them into jelly! I wish I had snapped a photo of her yesterday selling her preserves, but sadly I didn't. I'm always amazed at all the amazing talented ladies who live in my neighborhood. 

Lesley I crown you the queen of jam :)