Monthly Archives: November 2014

Christmas Decor in the Castle in the Sky

Well, it’s that time of year again!  Time to break out the tinsel and holly, make peppermint cocoa and Christmas cookies – yay!!! If you picture me skipping around obnoxiously cheerful singing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” like a parent in those back-to-school commercials, you’d have a pretty accurate picture of how I feel.  So we’ve had our tree up since oh, November 1st, but out of consideration for those not as cheer-happy, I’ve held off on the decorations post until now.

I pulled out our beautiful red tapers from last year, and this year they are beautifully lining our window.

Our tree is up again, beautiful and twinkly.

We picked up a special ornament for this year, commemorating our first car 🙂

I tried an idea I saw on Pinterest for dressing our window – hanging ornaments at different heights.  This turned out great, since I wanted to dress it up, but find icicle lights to not have quite as clean-lined a look as I like.  Check out how my little faux garland turned out!

And this is the magical look we get to see with our tree reflected in the window, and city lights at night.  This view, this is why I call our little place a castle, I feel like I’m in a magical land when I look at this.

And of course, I can’t forget our coffee table with our pretty bowl from Ikea that we got last year.  Since I was using the red and silver ornaments on the window, I picked up some more gold and silver ornaments for a sophisticated, mixed metallic touch.

How are you decorating for the holidays?  Any other crazy-early enthusiasts like me out there?

What a Designer Wallet Taught Me

Today I have a story to share with you, dear friends.  You see, although I enjoy fashion and style, I’ve never really been one to care for brand names and designer labels.  Couture is beautiful, but it’s doubtful I would tote around a purse whose material is entirely emblazoned with the label’s logo – personally that wouldn’t suit me.

However, a few months ago I did something rare for me – I went into Yorkville (the ritzy area here in town), and in a designer boutique, I bought myself a designer wallet – specifically a Kate Spade wallet in aqua blue.  It’s beautiful, it’s luxurious, it’s high quality, and it taught me an important lesson.

You see, one of the main reasons that I haven’t usually gone in to those shops is that I felt out of place, and that it would be selfish to want these high-end things.  At the root of it all, I didn’t feel good enough, or worthy enough.  Isn’t that silly?

Fortunately, I had started working with an amazing coaching program, and was actively working on things like my sense of self-worth.  Nick and I have big dreams, and we know we’re destined for far more than being average and just getting by, so I knew this would just be another hurdle on the path.

So, knowing and feeling secure in the decision financially, I went in and bought this fancy wallet.  To me, this was not frivolous or shallow.  It was a deeply thought about and carefully weighed decision, and I knew that every time I pulled that wallet out I would be reminded that my life is meant to be far more than average.  And you know what’s funny?  When I walked in to that boutique, I didn’t feel out of place, I didn’t think I was selfish.  I was confident, self-assured, and what surprised me the most, I was treated well.  It didn’t feel like everyone was sizing me up, but rather they were glad to see me, and I was glad to be there.

I know that it’s a silly little story, but that moment taught me so much about feeling worthy, about self-image, and that luxury is not wrong.  And here’s what the pretty little thing looks like:

Have you ever ended up learning something about yourself while shopping?  Or found a designer or shop you really like?  I know Kate Spade is one of my new favourites now!

Pumpkin Scone Redux – Simple and Iced

Hello dear friends, I hope you have been staying warm and enjoying the beginnings of the holiday season!  I know that the weather has been a bit unpredictable, especially here in Canada, but I find that even snow (which I don’t exactly love) seems a bit more magical when tinsel and holly are around as well.

Today I’m bringing you a ridiculously (ridiculously) easy quick recipe you can throw together for a fun and festive breakfast or coffee treat!  Pumpkin scones with icing – yes, yum!  Now if you want to get all fancy and from scratch about it, you can certainly go here and check out my full recipe including homemade icing.  But if instead you’d prefer a simple snack that can be thrown together with only a few ingredients, this post is for you.  

Here’s how it’s done:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Mix well one 18.25oz box of spice cake mix with about 15oz of canned pure pumpkin.  This batter should be very thick, but smooth.  If you like it extra spicy, feel free to add some extra pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, or whatever else you’d like in terms of spices – do not add any of the other usual ingredients on the box, like eggs or water.

Separate the batter into halves, and roll each of the halves into a rough ball.  Place each ball onto one of the cookie sheets, and gently pat it in the centre to create a sort of flattened shape, kind of like a peasant loaf.

Bake the batter for about 20 to 24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow the baked scones to cool almost completely, and then carefully use a knife to cut each ball into six segments, like pie or pizza slices.  Ice the tops of the scones with some premade cream cheese frosting (or cream cheese flavoured frosting).

Then, put them all on a pretty plate and serve ‘em up!

How have you guys been getting into festive spirits?  Anyone trying interesting things with cake mix?  Do share, we’d love to hear!

Easy Date Night – Indoor Picnic

Is there anything sweeter than love and romance? Well, chocolate, I know.  But really, nothing compares to a romantic evening spent with the love of your life.  Getting dolled up, going out for a delicious candlelit dinner, lingering over cocktails while enjoying each other’s presence, or an evening of dancing…. ahhh, such sweet, loving bliss – at least until the bill arrives.

I know I’m not the only one to experience this, seeing the plethora of articles devoted to solving this problem – “Easy Cheap Dates”, “25 Free Summer Date Nights in Your City”, and so on.  What we have done a few times is reliable, romantic, and free!  I don’t know if this idea simmered in my subconscious while reading the aforementioned articles, or came to me one day when I was sick of eating dinner on the coffee table, since the itty bitty castle on the 26th floor didn’t have room for a proper dining table and chairs.  So the idea occurred to me all of a sudden – indoor picnic date night!  This is also a great idea to try right now, when the weather gets cold, and you can easily cozy up with your sweetheart.

The simplest way is transforming normal dinner into romantic indoor picnic.  This was exactly what I did – make dinner as per usual (I think it was pasta, or maybe homemade pizza), spread out a blanket on the floor, set out cutlery, napkins, maybe turn on some romantic music, and light a candle or two.  Serve dinner already plated, and set the extras on the coffee table for seconds.  Done!  The change of scenery and pace totally set a romantic mood, and that evening, we lingered over dinner, laughing, feeding each other, it was perfect.

Want to take it up a notch and have even more romance?  Make dinner together, and maybe try something special.  For example, our second Valentine’s Day as a married couple.  I planned out the menu ahead of time, and we had filet mignon with caesar salad and sweet potato fries.  I put on the romantic music as we started cooking, and making dinner together in a tiny kitchen is already a fun and sweet couple experience.  Dinner was ready in record time, and we were already relaxed.  I set out the dishes on the coffee table like a buffet and poured two glasses of wine (homemade!).  This makes such an easy date night, and the only cost is what you already paid on groceries.

What are your favourite cheap/free date nights?  Share in the comments below!