Friday, December 28, 2012

Ushering in the New Year

I will be ushering in the New Year with my family, nothing fancy but surrounded by lots of love. What I'm wearing represents what I'll look like on the inside, underneath the jeans and sweater. This is not the best outfit to wear to a house party surrounded by children squealing in delight as we play video games and eat pizza and Lebanese food (I really want shwarma...hint hint Rosie).

I think I may have the perfect top for this skirt. It took a while (See other option here). Next look is the white tee and jean jacket, I just need to find the jean jacket.

Sweater - Ted Baker
Skirt - Ann Taylor (old)
Booties - Coach (old)
Necklace - Judith & Charles (old)
Bracelets - Aldo, The Bay (old)

Still not too late to enter the Lilla P giveaway, only four more likes and an exciting announcement.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

While this year has been filled with lots of wonderful memories and accomplishments there have been some heart breaking losses for many close friends and family. To them I offer my prayers that 2013 brings them peace, love, faith and hope.

Happy New Year and looking forward to 2013. Cheers!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Officially Sweater Weather

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas. I spent the holidays with my husbands family in in the great white north of Sudbury - 30 cm (1 foot) of snow greeted us. It seems like a lot, however, there have been times when the snow banks were so high they covered cars and all you could see where the rooftops of homes. The kids just loved the snow, snow ball fights and tobogganing every day. We ate too much, went to church and enjoyed being with family.

We are back home where we finally got snow, 10 cm in fact. Its been something like 645 days since Toronto has had 10 cm of snow. I'm getting ready to shovel the snow with the kids but before I do I just wanted to show you what I was wearing yesterday before the fall. Its sweater weather!! The one I'm wearing is perfect - I can eat as much as I want (and I did) and no one is the wiser.

Hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas season or just the time of year.

Sweater - Ted Baker
Jeans - Adriano Goldschmied (old)
Booties - Coach (old)
Purse - Coach (old)
Necklace - Stella & Dot
Bracelet - J Crew

If you are missing something in your wardrobe Lilla P may be able to help. My giveaway is still open for a $100 gift card. Lilla P is six away from reaching 2000 likes on Facebook and they are promising their fans a nice surprise when they reach 2000. Let's help them out.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's Going to be a Wet Christmas

The weather has been unstable, honestly, it's winter and it is raining all the time. Rain is the new snow. I don't like it. I'm not fond of snow but there is a way things are done. I know I just jinxed myself, but Mother Nature is messing with us and we always lose. 

Now that I got that off my chest let's get back to why you stop by. To see what I'm wearing.

You haven't seen me in a blazer for a while and I know you're getting withdrawal. This one started the love affair with Smythe. No one does blazers like these two Canadian women. 

Thanks for all the hair compliments. I'm switching it up. I am really enjoying the curls and if truth be told I don't have to wash my hair as often when I curl it. Something about sexy bed head...

Back to basics.

If you haven't had a chance to enter my Lilla P $100 gift card giveaway it's on till January 2nd 2013. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blazer - Smythe (old)
Shirt - The Gap (here)
Jeans - Yoga Jeans (here, Yoga 30)
Shoes - Ralph Lauren (old)
Belt - Tory Burch (old)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Just Playing with the Lilla P Origami Wrap

I just found out my girlfriend Liz has three of the Lilla P Origami Wraps. She loves how versatile they are and says they're perfect for travel. Bring a long sleeve top and it becomes sleeveless. I couldn't make the halter or one strap style in this cold Toronto weather - it will have to be a future post.

I did decided to see what looks I could come up with, my youngest slept a few extra minutes so I snapped a few pictures. Love how I can change the Origami Wrap depending on my mood.

Top - Lilla P
Skirt - Banana Republic (old)
Necklace - F21
Watch - Michael Kors
Bracelets - Stella & Dot, Ann Taylor (old)

If you haven't had a chance to enter my Lilla P $100 gift card giveaway it's on till January 2nd 2013. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fair Isle Fun

I am really enjoying fair isle sweaters, something about me in a ski chalet hanging out. Now I went skiing this year, in February, while I was in Banff. I hadn't skied in 20 years and just got up one morning and decided I would go skiing alone while my husband was in a series of committee meetings. I didn't  really ski, I tumbled down the hill and bruised up my body. After the third attempt (being a parent we tell our kids to try something more than once) I took off my skis and walked down the rest of the mountain.

Anyway, I still love the "ski chalet" look.

Its What I Wore Wednesdays, so head on over to the Transatlantic Blonde to see what other bloggers are wearing.

My giveaway for Lilla P is on, good luck on winning the $100 gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sweater & Booties - The Gap
Shirt - Banana republic
Jeans - J brand (old)
Bracelets - Links of London, Pandora (old)
Necklace - Ann Taylor
Handbag - Coach

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lilla P- Tailored for a Casual Lifestyle

Whenever a clothing company approaches me to work with them I feel like Sally Fields "You like me, you really like me!". Sometimes the collaboration doesn't work, and then there are times when everything is seamless...introducing Lilla P.

In 1998 the line started as a collection of essential tees and then expanded to include jackets, lightweight sweaters, dresses and skirts. Lilla P is a collection "that is perfectly tailored for a casual lifestyle". That doesn't mean over sized tees in boring colours, but a collection of separates that are both flattering and functional. It's all about clean lines, great fabrics and the perfect fit. It's like they were reading my mind...

The company graciously gifted me one of their best sellers The Long Sleeve Origami Wrap in Emerald Green - Emerald Green is the Pantone colour of 2013. Love it when I'm ahead of a trend.

The Origami Wrap can be styled at least 13 ways. I've decided to create and model "The Classic".

One of my favourite combinations is Emerald Green and leopard. Once I saw this wrap I knew how I was going to style this look.

Just moving the ruching so it is...


Lilla P uses 100% Pima cotton which keeps its shape and colour wash after wash. While I am new to the line, my friends at Carriage Trade carry Lilla P. and they can vouch for the quality of the pieces. Kathleen has several Lilla P tees in a variety of colours and vouches for their quality. She loves to use them as layering pieces or for casual days about town.

I took a page out of Kathleen's book and paired it with this faux fur vest and belt. 

Now for some exciting news...Lilla P is graciously giving one of my readers a $100 gift card to shop their line! This giveaway is open to my US and Canadian readers only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Top - Lilla P
Jeans - Yoga Jeans
Shoes - Stuart Weitzman (old)
Watch - Michael Kors
Bracelets - Stella & Dot, Ann Taylor (old)
Vest - Banana Republic
Belt - Cassis (old)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chunky Knits & Banana Republic

I've been glued to my television trying to understand the tragedy in Sandy Hook. I've prayed and mourned for the families affected and have been hugging my children tight. Everything else has seemed so trivial. Life will get back to normal especially with the Christmas holiday season in full swing, however, a piece of the American nation has changed.

Just updating the blog with these pictures from my blog swap with Ana from The Suburban Peasant

These necklaces are designed and created by my friend Maya from Urge to Splurge. Maya graciously gifted the eternity necklace to me and I just had to have the aqua one. I really love how delicate Maya’s pieces are and how I can wear them with everything.

Sweater/Cardigan– Banana Republic (old)
Denim – Paige Denim (old)
Blouse – Joe Fresh
Booties – The Gap
Belt – Cassis (old)
Necklaces – Urge to Splurge
Handbag - Coach

Friday, December 14, 2012

Blog Swap - Meet Ana from the Suburban Peasant

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Ana from The Suburban Peasant. I first heard of Ana from a close family friend and have been following her blog ever since. Her Croatian background and Windsor birthplace have found a special place in my blogging heart. She cooks and bakes with passion and always treats her readers to great aromas from her childhood and new adventures as a young married woman.

Chocolate Coconut Chocolate Bar Hostess Gift

Is it just me, or has Christmas snuck up on us this year?  You know that gnawing feeling where you feel that everyone's prepared for the busiest time of year, except you?  Ya, well I have that.  In reality, I'm not doing too badly but I'm not going to lie, all those early holiday shoppers, Christmas commercials, flyers, TV shows and carols have got me sweating a bit.  I think it's because I've been bombarded with Christmas since the day after Halloween, but we're now in December and it's officially time to get into the Christmas preparations.

Everyone has their to-do list when it comes to getting ready for Christmas.  Most of us have shopping somewhere on our list, maybe you bake, clean your house from top to bottom or make cabbage rolls (like me).   My to-do list goes something like this.  Number one, decorate, number two write Christmas cards, number three, make hostess gifts (I'll get to that later), number four bake and number five, make cabbage rolls.  Decorating is a given and definitely my favourite item on the list.  We always head out to a Christmas tree farm to cut down our tree, one that is so big it grazes the ceiling and is almost impossible to circle around in its little alcove.  This is usually followed by a night of Christmas tree trimming with two of my home boys singing in the background; my Canadian home boy Michael Bublé belting out Christmas carols, and my Croatian home boy Kičo singing Croatian "Jingle Bells".  Any Croat knows it just isn't Christmas without Kičo.  Then we wrap up the night with a big bowl of roasted chestnuts and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

My husband and I began this tradition five years ago when I first moved away from home.  It was my first Christmas in my shady little apartment.  We bought one of those fresh Christmas trees at Ikea; the ones that cost $20 and then they give you $20 to spend in store - can't go wrong with that deal! We had to sneak the tree into my building, as real trees were not allowed and we began to decorate.  Nick would pass me the dollar store ornaments as I placed them on the tree, sipping wine, eating pizza and singing Christmas songs.  We got down to the last couple of ornaments and I began to tidy up, when Nick tells me he has one more for the tree.  Ho goes inside his bag and pulls out this large glass ornament and holds it out in front of me.  I was charmed by the gesture, as he thought of buying a special ornament for my first tree.  I take it and begin to thank him for the beautiful ornament.  When I reach for it I hear something clinking around inside it, and as I peer in closer to see what it is, something sparkly catches my eye.  In the centre of the bulb, tied with a fishing line was an engagement ring, dangling in the centre.  When I finally begin to register what is going on, I saw Nick lowering himself to one knee.  He said a few words that were barely audible because I was in such shock and full of giggles.  And the rest as they say, is history!

My first Christmas tree away from home, with my special ornament. To this day, it's still the last ornament we place on the tree.

Creating family traditions is what makes Christmas really feel special.  Whether it's the meals you share, going to mass as a family, or baking Christmas cookies, I find it's the things we carry on year after year that really highlight this time of year.  One of the traditions I began a few years ago is one that my family and friends now look forward to and that is my homemade hostess gifts.  Every year I make a homemade treat, whether it's biscotti, spiced nuts or truffles, package them in pretty little containers and wrap up with festive bows and ornaments to give to family and friends when visiting over the holidays. 


This year I am keeping with tradition but making a new treat, chocolate coconut bars.  I came across this recipe in a Canadian House and Home magazine last year.  It automatically drew me in because number one, Bounty bars are one of my favourite chocolate bars, two they are easy to make (no baking required, bonus) three, the ingredient list is quite simple and four, your treats should keep well - you don't want to prepare something that needs to be consumed right away.  The last three points are important when making hostess gifts.  You will be making these en mass, so you will need to buy large quantities of ingredients and spend some time making them.  And you don't want to bog yourself down with complicated recipes that you will have to replicate for a dozen or so hostess gifts.

As when preparing anything, presentation is always key so I like to spend some time considering how I will present this gift.  I like the vessel I pack the treats in to be part of the gift as well, something that can be used again and again.  Decorative jars, tins, bowls or oversized mugs are always a nice choice.  Wrapping them in gift bags, cellophane and/or pretty bows really pulls the whole look together and finally, adding a personalized greeting with a label or small card, coupled with a unique ornament adds a tailored touch.


Making your own hostess gifts is a wonderful gift to be shared at Christmas.  We're always visiting friends and family and it's nice to have something to bring with you, to thank them for their hospitality.  I usually make 14 or 15 each year and share them not only with friends and family, but our paper carrier, neighbours and being a teacher, I know I'd love to get one of these from my students!  It's much more personal than a box of Turtles and in my opinion, they always taste better too because they come from the heart.

Chocolate Coconut Bar Hostess Gifts
Some prior organization and planning will be required to prepare these gifts, especially if you're going to be making a dozen or more.  The recipe below makes about 30 bars.  Each gift has 10 bars, so before beginning, I knew I had to make at least 150.  You will want to go out and buy everything before hand, so once you get started you can get yourself into assembly line mode and start pumping them out!  This recipe can be multiplied nicely so, making double or triple batches is easy.
Don't use chocolate chips for this recipe.  These are meant to stay whole and soft in whatever you bake them in.  You want the chocolate to melt and become hard again, so chocolate chips are a no-no.  Ensure that you're chocolate is cut up into small pieces to melt quickly.  When choosing chocolate, you want to choose the best you can afford.  Pure Belgian dark chocolate (70%) or more is the best; however, if you're going to be making a lot of bars, it may not be the most economical.  A good option is to go to your local bulk food store and find the mid-quality brand.  But if you're looking for the best tasting and money isn't an option, then Belgian chocolate is where it's at.
Melting chocolate may seem easy, but if you do not temper the chocolate there is a very good chance that the chocolate will split and you won't get the hard shell you're looking for.  The chocolate shell is important, because the coconut is quite soft and the entire bar will fall apart without the chocolate coating.  I have included very detailed directions on how to temper chocolate here.  If you have a candy thermometer at home, I suggest you try it, if not don't sweat.  Just follow the important steps I outlined in the recipe below.
The jars and ornaments are from Ikea and the ribbon and labels are from Michaels.
Recipe adapted from “Chocolate Coconut Bars”, Canadian House and Home Magazine
Makes roughly 30 bars

7 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
60 toasted almonds
1 kg of dark chocolate, cut up into small pieces

In an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, roast almonds on a baking sheet, in a single layer.  When you begin to smell the almonds roasting, flip then once and continue to roast for another 3 or 4 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

In a large bowl thoroughly combine the shredded coconut, condensed milk and cinnamon with a wooden spoon.  Chill in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes to stiffen.  When cool, remove from fridge and begin shaping small bars by making quenelles with two tablespoons, then press down to flatten.  You can also shape the bars using your hands, but I find this technique keeps your hand sticky-free and makes a more uniform bar.    Place the bars on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.  Once you have used up all of the coconut, gently press in two of the roasted almonds on top of the bars.  Freeze the bars for at least 3 hours, but overnight would be best.  (Tip:  It's better to freeze these in your regular freezer, not you chest or deep freezer.  The gentler freezing of a deep freezer, that makes long-term freezing ideal in these appliances, just doesn't get the bars hard enough.  You want the bars to be as close to frozen solid as possible, or else they will fall apart in the melted chocolate).
Keep the bars in the freezer while you are preparing the chocolate.  Begin by melting 2/3 of the chocolate in a glass or stainless steel bowl, set over a pot of lightly simmering water.  Be careful not to add any moisture to the chocolate as it is melting.  This will cause the chocolate to seize and once it seizes, there's no fixing it.  As soon as the chocolate melts, remove the bowl from the pot and add in the remaining third of chocolate.  The chocolate will melt from the residual heat of the melted chocolate.  This is called seeding and it's what gives your chocolate a smooth and shiny finish.

At this point, the chocolate may be a bit thicker than ideal, as it has begun to cool.  Thin the chocolate out be reheating it over the pot of simmering water.  You can now begin dipping your bars into the chocolate.  If at any time the chocolate gets too thick, simply reheat it over the pot of water.  Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Using a fork, carefully immerse the bars into the melted chocolate, keeping it on the fork, cover the bar fully.  Lift the fork and bar out of the chocolate and let any excess chocolate drip away.  Scrape any remaining chocolate from the bottom against the edge of the bowl and set to cool on the parchment paper.  Repeat until all of the bars have been coated in chocolate.

If you are planning to assemble the gifts the same day, refrigerate the chocolate coconut bars for at least 2 hours.  If you are planning to assemble them later you can freeze them or refrigerate them until you are ready.  To assemble, place each bar in a muffin cup.  Stretch the muffin cup so that it will fit the length of the bar.  Place them in a decorative jar or box and wrap with a bow, cellophane or place in a gift bag.  Add a personalized label or gift card and a Christmas ornament to complete the package.

Thank you for your time Ana and the great recipe. To check out what I'm wearing head to The Suburban Peasant.