Wednesday, 18 December 2013


You know I like to bake, right?  It's not super obvious, is it?

Did you also know I just bought some personal training sessions and I am very much on the wagon?  That's right...hopped on at the most difficult time to be "good".  Christmas time.  Oh, the horror.  And considering my love of baking, it seems so much worse.

My solution has been to bake a number of Christmas goodies and give them away!  Hubby is shocked and appalled but it's really the best fix, I think.  So I made a few things this year (my mom's version of Oh Henry Bars - really  nothing like the chocolate bar, Peppermint Macarons, my aunt T's Bailey's Fudge - crazy good, Coconut Chocolates, and Pecan Snowball Cookies) and most of them are packaged up to go!  My mom gave me really cute Christmas treat boxes last year so I used those and bought these adorable little dishes from Michaels (pictured below).  They were literally $2 each.  AMAZING!

I just kept a few things so hubby can snack on them over the holidays.  So I was able to bake, hubby gets a few treats, and treats for friends!  I'm pretty happy about this (although don't get me wrong, I would way rather be eating those sweets)!

I used the Christmas gift tags I bought on Etsy, tissue paper, and ribbon to package up some of the sweets.

They look good, right?  I tried one (really, only one) of the Coconut Chocolates because I had never made them before and they were so good!!  The graham cracker square you're seeing is our version of the Oh Henry Bar.  I'm really not sure why we call it that because there are no peanuts or caramel.  They simply consist of graham wafers, chocolate, butter, brown sugar, and graham cracker crumbs.  Really easy and hubby's favourite Christmas treat that my family makes.

Can I just say I'm really proud of this photo?  I never feel like my photos are very good and this one with the tree in the background out of focus looking so amazing is such a happy accident. *Ahem* I mean photography skill... ;)

And aren't those little dishes from Michaels so great?  Really - $2.  I only bought two but I probably should have bought fifteen.

Merry Christmas!  I just can't stop saying it.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


This year I decided to do something a little different.  The last two Christmases I bought wrapping paper at Costco and boy, was it inexpensive.  Not only that, it was pretty good quality, too.  Nice and thick so it didn't tear easily while you were wrapping.  I wanted to do something a bit more pretty and creative this time around so I bought a few items on Etsy including:

1. Aspen Frost patterned paint roller and applicator from NotWallpaper
2. Medium white scalloped gift tags from Catch Some Raes
3. Large red scalloped gift tags from Catch Some Raes
4. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas stamp from Creatiate
5. White poinsettia on red Christmas washi tape from LaZoie
6. Light gold glitter washi tape from LaZoie
7. Black ribbon on sale from Michaels
8. Stamp pad and paint from Michaels
9. Craft paper from Wal Mart or the like
Also loving this washi tape and this washi tape

You could call it "variations of a theme", really.  I used those basic staples for all of the presents and no two are exactly alike.  Some are completely printed with the Aspen Frost roller, some just have a strip.  Some have black ribbon, some red, some none.  Multicolour washi tape and one of two tags, you get the idea.  I think they're pretty exciting because they're unique, fun, and a little bit creative.  Hubby was a bit horrified that I bought a paint roller for $50 with shipping and handling.  He can't quite seem to get past that to enjoy the spirit of Christmas wrapping... Frivolous, he says.  Men. ;)

And in case you're wondering, our tree skirt is actually two fur "rugs" from Wal Mart.  You can find them in the section with bathroom things and rugs.  They come in all different colours (lots of neon, actually) and I have two wrapped around the bottom of my tree.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 15 December 2013


Hello, Christmas lovers everywhere!

This has been a very cold and snowy weekend so after church this morning we've been snowed in at home.  I spent the day trying my hand at the French pastry known as macarons.  This was my most difficult baking project to date, as far as I can remember.  I wanted to share my tips from this baking adventure!

I used this recipe from

My attempt certainly wasn't perfect (I threw out 3 pans of macarons) but the cookie sheet that didn't overcook was pretty good for a first attempt, I think!

First of all, to translate the measurements from the studiodiy recipe.  They list the ingredients in grams so I'll pass on the wisdom of the internet to you all in case you're like me and don't own a kitchen scale.

200 grams of icing sugar = 1.6 cups
200 grams of almond meal = 1.8 cups
80 g egg whites = whites from 3 eggs
200 g granulated sugar = 1 cup

The next tip?  I tried to make almond flour myself from whole almonds.  Hubby did the grocery shopping and didn't put his full effort into finding almond meal at Bulk Barn (they have it and I went back for it later).  In theory, almond meal/flour is simply ground almonds.  You just grind the almonds in a food processor and then use a sifter so it's a fine consistency.  The issue I ran into was if you grind the almonds too much they become a paste.  However, if you don't grind them enough, they're really quite big pieces and that doesn't work either.  When I went back to Bulk Barn I found they had almond meal that was much finer than I could get it on my own, so I just bought it.  Definitely the way to go, in my opinion.

I would have made the macarons slightly thicker, as well, when applying the batter to the cookie sheet.  The cookies aren't too thin, but I would have liked them to be a little bit thicker, I think.

My oven and I are constantly waging war against each other, in case you didn't know.  It is a very difficult oven to work with!!!  The longer it's on, the hotter it gets.  I mean, only the first sheet of cookies comes out right.  After the first pan I have to turn the temperature down and bake for less time, and everything still seems to burn.  That was the issue with these.  It seemed like there was a very fine balance.  They are very delicate pastries so being slightly brown on the bottom makes them too hard and just not right.  As always, the first pan out turned out fine.  *Dreaming of a convection oven.*

If you're planning on using candy cane pieces (or anything else) for embellishment, you have to make sure the buttercream frosting is layered on quite thick so it can pick up the pieces of candy.  It's best to squeeze a big dollop into the centre of the macaron.  I squiggled the frosting around (technical term) at first and when you pushed the cookies together, you could tell it had been kind of messy and squiggly.

And that brings me to my last tip.  When you press the cookies together, hold them by the edges.  If you push from the centres, the macarons will crack and collapse.  They really are delicate little guys.  (Lesson learned.)

So it wasn't a complete home run, but successful enough that I will definitely make macarons again.  And this time I'll have a little experience under my belt so they should turn out even better!

Friday, 6 December 2013


That's her name this year.  Tilly.  Tilly the telescopic tree.  Why telescopic, you say?  That doesn't make any sense, you say?  Well, someone in this household who will remain nameless thought Tilly was but a tiny tree.  So tiny a telescope is required to see her, they said.  This slightly offended Tilly but as she concentrated on her beautiful array of handcrafted ornaments she was able to shrug off those hurtful remarks and fulfill her Christmas destiny.

I was confused by the use of "telescopic" in what one could only assume is a "microscopic" situation, but hubby assured me he truly meant "telescopic."  Men.  If it's not busting out the windows they just don't consider it a Christmas tree.

I don't think she's so bad.

And in other news, my mom surprised us with an amazing piece of Christmas artwork!  When we opened this gem on December 1st I did a double take.  At first I wondered if she had found someone to paint Leroy!  Then I quickly realized that our baby's right eye is blue. ;)  Apart from that, it is really a striking resemblance!  Hubby and I were very excited about it - as was Leroy.  He took a good sniff.  I put it up in the living room where I had hung our new wedding photo.  It is truly special and I can't wait to look at it year after year!

Happy December and Merry Christmas!


Here are some pretty things that would look lovely on your holiday table this year... Or my holiday table, for that matter.  You can find these items: on etsy,