Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Mommy-To-Be Friendly New Years Mocktail: Apple Ginger Sparkler

This year champagne is off limits, so here is an alternative from Miss Martha that has the same colouration and festive spirit, without the alcohol.

Apple-Ginger Sparklers

For Ginger Syrup:

  1. Place 2 cups of sugar, 1 six-inch piece of fresh ginger finely diced, and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook about 1 hour, until ginger flavor is quite strong. Let cool and strain before using.

For Mocktail:

  • 1/4 cup Ginger Syrup
  • 4 1/2 cups sparkling apple cider (make sure it is pasteurized)
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 pieces crystallized ginger
  1. Place 2 tablespoons ginger syrup in each of six glasses.
  2. Fill glasses with ice cubes, pour in cider, and stir to combine.
  3. Garnish with cinnamonsticks and fresh ginger, and serve.

(image via marthastewart.com)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Project Glam Kitchen: An Intro and Before Shots

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If you were flipping through the workbook section of the January issue, you may have caught a sneak peek of my kitchen (or you may even have the February issue in your hands if you’re a subscriber! Early birds catch the worm!) After spending long arduous months on my home reno, I am so excited that I will get to share my kitchen and family room with you, and in anticipation of the big reveal, I’ll be taking you on a behind the scenes tour of the basic building blocks of how it all came together here and on the Style At Home blog.

intro- kitchen before

When we first toured the house, it was clear that the kitchen hadn’t been touched in decades. This wasn’t shocking considering the rest of the outdated plumbing, knob and tube wiring, presence of asbestos, lack of central air and all the other fun factors that make embarking on a gut job a necessity. But I was still in love with the house and knew it was brimming with potential. After a couple of months of driving by longingly and some negotiating, it was ours!

intro- banquettebefore

We knew our plans for our dream house would require not only a gut reno, but would also eventually require more square footage as well in order to have space for both informal living and formal entertaining. I am an old soul at heart who loves to host and I already had a few pieces of treasured formal furniture, so a proper living room and dining room were on my wish list, in addition to having a great casual space with an eat-in kitchen and family room.

open house

Having endured living through a major reno (remember the bunker?), I knew it was wise and more cost effective to do the addition and existing reno simultaneously. I also knew I only wanted to tackle a project of this proportion once, so the MO was to invest in a long-term design to fit our evolving family needs and do it in one fell swoop, instead of doing a smaller job now and then having to move out again in 5 years to do the addition when we really needed the space. (and that was well before we knew that twins were on the way- everything happens for a reason!)

And with that plan in mind, we set out to create a floorplan that would give us everything we needed.

Up next: open concept space planning

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Power Problems

As I’m sure you may have seen on the news or on social media (or if you were here living through it), Ontario and other parts of Canada were hit with a nasty ice storm last week. While the icy branches certainly look pretty, the wake of devastation they left behind is not. Some side streets still have major trees blocking lanes and some families only had power restored this weekend!


We sustained a lot of damage to our trees and bushes (thankfully nothing heavy hit our cars or house)  but it was not having power for over 66 hours that really sucked. While it was refreshing taking a break from technology, between taking measures to keep the pipes from freezing to the spoiled food to the shlepping back and forth to the next hot meal, it was not an easy few days for a preggo like me.

Here’s a hardy thank you to all the hydro crews that worked insane hours to get people back on the grid- especially over the holidays!

Friday, December 20, 2013

This Is Real

And it’s spectacular! I got all giggly inside when I saw this baby lounger (aka rocker) at ella + elliott on clearance from $355 to $255. I am familiar with the manufacturer Bloom, who make super modern (and super pricey) high chairs and other gear for babies, but until now had never seen something so glam available for the nursery set.

Everything about it screams me – I mean it’s black plexi and gold leatherette -  but I held myself back as I have to remember that matching my baby gear to my home decor is probably not the priority here. Besides the gold may just be too fabulous for such little baby boys to handle anyways… if I was having girls though, they’d probably be goldmembers like me!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ice Ice Baby

Christmas cookie baking for holiday gifts is an annual tradition in my mother’s kitchen and hopefully next year will be in mine too. But for now, being 7.5 month pregnant with twins tends to get in the way of those types of standing-required activities, so I was content to be doing the sitting-friendly tasks this time around on her behalf, such as icing and cutting out shapes from her pre-rolled dough.

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Having taken the pastry courses at George Brown, my mom just LOVES her culinary gear and I laughed at her when she first wheeled in a commercial rack into the kitchen for her baking exploits. The joke’s on me though as it totally does come in super handy when baking and icing for a crowd.

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Having a plethora of both sugar and gingerbread cookies already baked up from a previous kitchen session, I organized my tools for the icing and decorating so I could move quickly between designs without letting the royal icing get too stiff.

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I had the most fun with the gingerbread snowflakes but  went a little crazy on the sanding sugar for the sugar cookie versions due to my insistence that it looks like real snow (well it does!)

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I also made some mittens (not of the kitten variety) using crushed peppermint candy shards for the cuffs- cute and minty fresh!

What’s your favourite holiday cookie recipe?

Monday, December 16, 2013

What Would Be Under My Christmas Tree (if I had a tree…)

Do you still have some holiday shopping to do? Well there’s just about a week left to snap up your gifts so here are some of my own picks that I’ve seen in stores over the past few days for some inspiration to get you going…


I love gold. I love stripes. I love soft boiled eggs (even though I can’t have anything undercooked right now- boo), so it’s not shocking that I have a crush on these adorable egg cups at Putti. At $15 a piece, they’d make any old egg and toast breakfast a more classy affair.


This luxe cashmere and wool blend throw by Yves Delorme at ELTE is so luxuriously soft and not totally out of control price-wise for a special gift at $225. I’m partial to it because this pinky-lavender hue appears a couple of times in my new digs, not to mention that it’s pretty much the exact shade that Pantone has selected as the colour of the year for 2014. The folks at Pantone call it radiant orchid- I’ll stick with  “warm lavender” as what the hell does radiant orchid even mean?


I know we’ve already covered the fact that I love gold, but did I mention in the past five minutes that I am a cheese freak? (Thankfully all cheese by law needs to be pasteurized in Canada so that hasn’t been off limits!) I love these cheese knives from West Elm because they’re a nice scale and add a touch of glamour to my favourite rustic cheese board.


I fell for this beautiful box set of assorted gourmet salts at the HomeSense holiday preview in the summer and was pleased to see a couple at the eglinton and laird location this week. Considering it’s cool to put sea salt on everything these days whether it be sweet or savoury, at $120, it’s a great gift for your favourite gourmand to savour.


Most creative types have some form of inspiration board in their offices and I’m no exception, so I think these gold (shock!) bow push pins by Kate Spade New York are just too cute for words! At $24 at Indigo, they won’t break the bank either.

Happy Shopping!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Picking Up Where We Left Off…

It’s been a few months but I swear I have a good reason for ditching: we moved into the house in late June the same week Dave and I discovered we were expecting- double whammy!


Instead of unpacking and getting back into blogging, I proceeded to sleep more in 12 weeks than I think I have ever the past 3 years combined. Extreme fatigue, horrible chronic headaches and general ickiness took over my life, but little did we know then that it was because there is not just one, but in fact two babies hanging out in my belly!

Once we recovered from the shock of finding out that twins were on the way (identical boys no less), I finally got a bit of my energy back and was able to get my act together and get the house ready for the shoot for the magazine in mid-October.


Now here we are in December and I’ve said a sad bye bye to my daily desk duties at Style At Home so I can concentrate on growing my babes safely until they make their debut in the new year.

The bright side is being at home has given me some time to prepare a whole series of posts that you’ll see on the Style At Home Blog (as well as here) about the reno, specifically on the kitchen and family room which will be published in the February issue.

Stay tuned for an in-depth look at my reno, and be sure to check out what my colleagues have been up to on the SAH Blog as well.