16 December 2009

Christmas Memories

Christmas is such a magical time, and I love to take a few moments every year to recall Christmases past. There is no one specific moment that makes me think of that Christmas magic. Rather it is a collection of small moments that we enjoyed as a family.

As a child the excitement of Christmas is of course palpable, and it would build throughout the month of December. Every year we would weave some cedar boughs together to form an advent wreath. The first Sunday that a candle was lit would mark an escalation in excitement.

The following month would be a frenzy of activity as we would "help" Mom in the kitchen as all the holiday treats would be baked: fruit cake, mincemeat tarts, gingerbread, shortbread, sugar cookies, and the top-secret "nana-cookies". Oh, how hard it was to know that all these treats were hidden away in cupboards not to be eaten until the big day.

On one appointed night, each of us would take a turn hiding away with Mom to help her wrap gifts. It gave such a feeling of importance as we were called one by one into our parents' bedroom to help with this very important task. Adding the pointy edged bow was a hallowed task. After the tree was carefully chosen, set up, decorated these packages would be carefully stacked and then countlessly re-arranged under the tree. A little shake and shimmy to try to guess the contents, and scanning for a loose seam in the paper.

By the time that Christmas Eve rolled around their would be a fever pitch of giddiness. As we packed back into the car following Christmas Eve mass, we would be thankful that the torment was near its end. We knew that there would be only a few more hours of patient waiting. To
assure us that Santa was on his way, the car radio would be tuned to CFRB radio, where regular NORAD updates would help us track Santa's progress as he neared our home.

As my uncle would have arrived earlier that day to spend the holidays with us, my sister would have to share my room. We would cuddle together in my bed and laugh and whisper into the night, until the stern "If you don't go to sleep, Santa won't come" threat echoed up the stairs.

As the dawn broke we would wake, slowly realising that the big day was finally upon us. We would leap from bed and race around the house to be sure that everyone was awake. We would all meet in the living room where around the tree presents had magically appeared; stockings brimming with nuts and fruit and tiny gifts. We opened these first, and then after a hearty breakfast, we would open out gifts to squeals and shouts of joy.

I would have to say that of course the "Look like you love it" award has to go to Mom. Bless my father, I am not sure that he really understood how to help us choose gifts for my Mom. The frozen meat saw that he helped me choose for her one year, never made it out of the box it was packed in. But, of course, I got the biggest hug, kiss and thanks for that gift.

The day would be sent playing with our new toys, trying on Christmas sweaters and snacking on the cookies and treats that finally graced the table. It would end with a giant turkey feast and a feeling of complete satiation and weary joy.

As adults my family has tried to recreate as many of these moments as possible, and it is even more joyous as spouses, nieces and nephews are brought into the fold.

Please feel free to share your Christmas memories here, too.

13 December 2009

Cookie Time

Yesterday, I realised with a shock that this is my last free weekend before Christmas. On Tuesday my sister will be arriving in Charlottetown via Toronto. So, my husband and I will be heading to the Island next weekend for the first of our family dinners. The following weekend, Christmas weekend, we head off to Cape Breton to my in-laws. That meant that anything that required intense labour needed to be done immediately. And naturally that meant cookies!!

I have been appointed the chief gingerbread baker for both families. I don't want to brag, but I may have developed a bit of a knack for it over the years. I use a Martha Stewart recipe that was in her annual Holiday cookie magazine about 5 years ago. The first time I made them, I realised too late that I did not have the called for amount of cinnamon so I had to improvise. The result was amazing, good and spicy the way I like it. Sadly, I didn't write down the changes that I made. This year, I nailed it again, and have pencilled the substitutions onto the page for future use.

After all the gingerbread dough was rolled, cut and baked, I ended up with an army of 77 gingerbread men of varying sizes. A veritable army... we will be invading a small sugar cookie country at dawn! I have yet to decorate the troops though, that will wait until tomorrow.

I also tried a new recipe this year, one that conveniently arrived in my email inbox. It is for perfect little candy cane meringues. (click for the recipe!) I made them smaller than the recipe suggests and ended up with approximately 60 mini meringues - a superb pop-in-your-mouth size. I added a drop of peppermint extract to the recipe too, and the result is a pleasing minty tingle on the tongue.

Tomorrow is sugar cookie day. The dough is made and chilling in the fridge. I must resist nibbling away at it!

I'll share all the final results later in the week.

12 December 2009

Spice Market - Earrings - Redux

A huge shout of THANKS to one of my favorite etsy sellers, fiveforty. Five used her fabulous treasury curation talents and once again one of her collections made it to the etsy front page. This time, I was fortunate enough to be included in her collection with these Spice Market earrings.

If you wish to see the other items in the treasury, look at the right hand bar of my blog for a slideshow of all the items.

Secondly, a giant SHOUT of thanks for those who voted for these same earrings in the TransCanada Etsy Team's November Challenge. Thanks to you my earrings were the winner of this challenge.

Its been an exciting couple of weeks for those earrings. Yesterday, they sold and today they jet off as a surprise gift for some lucky recipient.

If you are interested in a similar pair of earrings, please feel free to contact me via my etsy shop, stringmealong.

11 December 2009

Happy Hanukkah

Chanukah, the Jewish festival of rededication, also known as the festival of lights, is an eight day festival beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. This year, that day is December 12th.

Hanukkah marks the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem after its desecration by the forces of Antiochus II and commemorates the "miracle of the container of oil". According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire , there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate fresh olive oil.

One of the main rituals of Hanukkah is the lighting of the Menorah. The menorah is a candlabra that holds eight candles. One candle is lit each night, and some light also those lit the previous night. One additional candle sits distinctly in the centre. This candle is called a samash, or guard. Often it is lit first, and then used to light the other candles. The candles will burn after dark, and should burn for at least one hour. At the time of candle-lighting blessings are recited.

Other traditions for this festival period including the cooking and consupmtion of fried foods. This is again related to the miracle of the oil. Most common are potato latkes, otherwise known as potato pancakes. These may be followed up with jam-filled doughnuts.

The dreidl is a fun Hanukkah past-time. It is a gambling game, where every player starts with a certain number of coins or markers. Players throw one into the pot, and the dreidl is then spun by the first player. Depending on the symbol which shows on the driedl once it has come to a rest, the player will win the whole pot, half the pot, none of the pot, or contributes another marker to the pot. The game continues until one player as all the markers.

Beautiful examples of dreidles can be found on etsy in the shop of LevSneiderman.

The giving of gelt is intended to make the holiday more enjoyable for children. The children are given coins by their relatives. In modern times, gelt have become available in a chocolate varient.

The giving of Hanukkah gifts is not traditional, but has become more commonplace. Gifts are typically small, although some families will give one large gift on the first or second night of Hanukkah, with smaller gifts for the remaining days.

Happy Holidays.

10 December 2009

A Shop You Need to Know....

I have a fetish for journals. I have a ridiculously large, and expanding collection, of them. I take immense joy in handling a new journal, lingering over the texture of the cover, its heft, the thickness of the paper, the pleasant crisp snap of the first page as it is turned. I marvel over the promise that each fresh journal brings... the pages blank and clean and waiting to willingly accept my words or doodles. Nothing is more gratifying than that first whoosh of ink on that blank slate.

No journals though have brought me more joy than those made by etsy seller myhandboundbooks. I eagerly await their arrival in my mailbox. I take care though to slowly open the box , pulling the flaps gently so that the pleasing waft of leather scent slowly drifts upward, tickling my olfactory senses. A few moments spent deeply inhaling, are then followed by the gentle removal of the journal from the box. Clean hands only! No smudges, or fingerprints must be left on so soft and tactile a leather as these. Once in my clean hands, I run one finger gently over the cover, then tease the thin leather strap that holds it closed. Finally, a full open handed caress across the front cover and then turning it, repeating the gesture on the reverse. Once the initial fondling is complete, it is time to slowly, temptingly unwind the strap and carefully peel back the front cover. There it is ... the promise. Those crisp sheets herald the need to once again inhale the scent of the leather and paper.

My senses aroused, I need to set the book aside, but often catch myself stealing caresses, and sniffing gently along its spine. I require a few days before I can bring myself to marr those tempting pages with ink. I want to be sure that the first dab of ink results in something in profound.

The bookbinder behind my fetish is Rhonda. She has spent several years learning her craft, and creates beautiful journals and books structured mainly in the Medieval and Renaissance style. Clearly my favorites are her leather journals, but she also uses repurposed papers/cardboard, fabrics and most recently wood. She has also expanded her talents to include hand-dyed marbled papers, some of which are used in her journals.

If you wish to see an example of books that Rhonda created using repurposed cereal boxes, check out the book Re-Bound. She also contributed some information on instructional components to EcoBooks.

Rhonda's shop on Etsy is MyHandboundBooks. The shop where she sells her papers is, mymarbledpapers.

Learn more about Rhonda and myhandboundbooks on her blog.

6 December 2009

First Snow of the Year

It arrived stealthily in the night. It came disguised as cold rain, gradually changing to "thick" rain, and when I woke this morning there was a thick and fluffy cushion of white. The skies continue to shed, and I am sitting curled up on my couch watching the soft tumble of flakes.

Days like this are perfect. I have no need to be anywhere. I have plenty of non-pressing matters to attend to, such as a stack of books that wish to be read; some cooking magazines that need to be drooled over; a pot of chicken soup that is waiting to relieve any chill that caresses me, and; lurking somewhere in the cupboard a can of cocoa waiting to be frothed together with milk for a perfect December afternoon treat.

These, my friends, are the days. A snowy December Sunday when one can allow themselves the luxury of kicking back, stretching out and putting everything off until tomorrow. Days like these are few. Enjoy it, knowing that all the planning and hard work that you have put in for the other 345 days of the year are paying off here, on this day.

You can see that someone on my street wasted no time taking advantage of the fresh snowfall.

2 December 2009

Long, Cold Nights

It is December. The nights have grown exceedingly long, and the frosty chill in the air makes any outdoor exploit necessarily brief. With hours of darkness to pass, we need to look at interesting ways to fill them. Naturally, snuggling seems like the most fun way to pass the time, but sometimes you need alternate plans.

There are plenty of ways to fill all those hours though, and one of the most fun options is to have a family or friends game night. Dust off all those exciting old board games and indulge in a little friendly competition.

Everyone is familiar with the old classics like Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble and my personal favorite, Boggle.
There are so many more games available these days, though. Maybe try this fun decision making game, "Would You Rather...?". Discuss and debate a series of interesting dilemmas and predicaments.
Trivial Pursuit made trivia games popular over 25 years ago, and it has some great new company on the trivia scene. A more high-tech version can be found with the DVD-based games by Scene-It.

Now, toss some cushions on the floor. Make some snacks, pour some drinks and have fun!

30 November 2009

Favorite Things - November 30

'Tis the season. There is one thing that I may love more than anything about this time of the year, and it is the special television programming.

I am already eagerly checking my local listings for the airing times of my favorite holiday classics. I'm ready for my annual visit with Charlie Brown, Rudolph, Frosty and the Grinch. We've been meeting up annually for more than 35 years now and I still get that same childlike anticipation year after year. The ritual hasn't changed much either: bowl of buttery popcorn, mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows, and a cozy warm blanket.

I still get that same squidgy feeling after all these years when I tune in to watch these favorite friends. I dance the Peanuts Christmas dance. And then, I well up a little when the Peanuts gang get together to surprise Charlie Brown with his decorated tree and sing around it.

I applaud the Who's of WhoVille who continue to sing despite their being no presents or roast beast. The grinches heart grows 10 sizes that day.

I giggle everytime Rudolph's eyes boggle and he exclaims "I'm cute. I'm cute!" after meeting Clarissa, and then feel his pain after being told he could no longer play in the Reindeer games. And when Yukon Cornelius falls over the cliff.... oh.

I lean toward the TV, giddy for the moment that the magic hat will bring Frosty to life, and he will exclaim "Happy Birthday!"; and I weep a little along with Karen as Frosty melts into a puddle on the greenhouse floor while trying to keep her warm.

I know these programas are all available year round now on DVD, but that just isn't the same. There is no thrill in being able to watch these programs at my convenience. The thrill is in the hunt, the anticipation. I don't like things to be easy and available. I like to make the effort to be there when Charlie Brown is ready for me to be there, not the other way around. Having things available year round reduces the thrill, so I turn a blind eye when I see these classics available to buy or rent, and wait it out.

Its these small things that make the holidays special. Cuddling up with old cartoon friends, harkening back to childhood traditions, and remembering that Christmas is not solely about the commercial aspect. Now... go get your TV guide.

29 November 2009

The Sweetest Village Ever.

Sometime ago, I posted about one of my favorite-ever etsy sellers, thelittlereddoor. I have an ever expanding collection of her sweet clay homes. A new one in fact is on its way to me as we speak, and a new little tree so I can start landscaping the village.

And then... littlered went and listed this gorgeous little set on etsy.

sqqquuueeeee.... isn't it just the cutest thing, ever!! Can't you picture all the North Pole elves coming home to these little houses and settling in to their little chairs by the fire, after a long day at Santa's workshop?

28 November 2009

Dear Santa....

I hope you and Mrs Claus are doing well, and that global warming isn't making your lovely North Pole home too watery!

I think by all counts I have managed to be a reasonably good girl this year. It does get hard sometimes with all the temptation surrounding me day to day. For instance, I love to flick my husband's nose when he least expects it, but I've only done it a couple times.... and only when the temptation was too much to bear. I did say "sorry" after I did it, and mostly I meant it.

I have brushed my teeth every night before bed, and used my wrinkle cream religiously. I think that shows good common sense, and you gotta appreciate that, right Santa?

I will be leaving you some mulled cider and cookies. I would leave mulled wine, but I don't believe in driving while impaired, even if the reindeer are really in charge of the sleigh. As for the cookies, they are the gingerbread recipe that Martha Stewart uses, so you know they are going to be good.

Now Santa, I don't want you to think that the cider and cookies are a bribe, but I am enclosing my wish list here for your consideration. Please stick to the list; the exchanges line right after the holidays can be so excruciating!

1) This beautiful piece of beach pottery on a leather cord from the etsy shop seaglassdesigns.

2) Vanilla Smoothy aroma melts from cleanbright.

3) This beautiful Dark chocolate coloured leather journal from myhandboundbooks. A side order of real dark chocolate, the edible kind, would also be appreciated, just in case you were wondering.

Thank you very much, Santa. I look forward to waking up on Christmas morning and finding my "surprises" under the tree.

Fly carefully,

*Did you know that your letter to Santa can win you a fabulous prize pack from the TransCanada Etsy team? Click the badge below for all the details:

27 November 2009

Treasuries and a Front Page

I have had a knack for timing this week and I have been lucky to catch a few treasuries on etsy. Since, the spirit of Christmas is still tugging at my soul, I made two Christmas themed treasuries.

The first is called "The Holly and the Ivy", inspired by one of my very favorite Christmas carols. I discovered some truly stunning pieces on etsy when I was building this collection. Obviously, there are some who approved of my selections. This collection, I am very pleased to say made it to Etsy's front page. I also heard from some of the sellers that I featured and they happily reported that they had some sales directly related to that exposure. Yah! I love when that happens.

This is a screen-capture of the treasury:

This next one is my latest treasury, still active but (not yet?) a front page selection. Maybe ...
This one was very fun to make. I love festive red and white, and stripey things always make me a little happy. This collection is called "Candy Cane Twist".

My luck ran out a little tonight, as the treasury window opened and closed while I was off eating dinner. I thought I had time to spare. Ah well, no reason I can't go browse and see what I can create for next time.

26 November 2009

Happy US Thanksgiving

Little wonder that today I have a huge craving for turkey, and am longing for a 4-day weekend. All the word today is about the big holiday south of the border. I'd like to give a great big cornucopia of wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving to my American neighbours.

In the spirit of THANKS, I'd like to thank all customers, old and new, of stringmealong. To do this I am now offereing 10% off all items in my shop. ALSO, any purchase above $75 before the discount will receive a full refund on shipping as well.

And, just in case you haven't heard, any purchase made in my shop will earn ballots for the TransCanada Etsy Team's prize draw. The prize is spectacular!!

Take advantage of this soon. All of these offers will end on December 6th.

Lucite flower hairsticks... new colours now in stock!

25 November 2009

The Twelve Days of Christmas.

There is a new version of this traditional song this year, and it does not involves milking maids or leaping lords. Instead... it features 12 fun filled days from the TransCanada Etsy Team of which I am a proud member.

From November 25th to December 6th, any purchase from one of our participating member shops will earn buyers ballots for a chance to win our fantastic team goodie bag prize pack. Buyers receive one ballot for every $10 spent per shop. The draw will be held on December 7th.

This is a sneak peek at the prize pack:

Plus, anyone can earn a ballot simply by writing a letter to Santa. Here's what you do: 1) Look at the team blog for the list of participating shops. 2) Pick your favorite item from three of these shops. 3) Write your letter to Santa and include the links to these three items. 4) Post your letter directly into the comments field of our team blog, OR post it on your blog, and then provide us with the link.

Be sure also to check the team blog to see which shops will be offering special sales and offers to go along with the team promotion. Just click the fun colourful square above to find all the glorious details.

Have fun!!! And remember... there is exactly one month left until Christmas!

24 November 2009

Add a Little SPICE

This month the TransCanada etsy team hosted a challenge. Team members were invited to create an item ispired by the theme "Spice".

I loved this challenge, as I love all the warm colours of exotic spices. So many delicious images sprang to mind. I immediately thought of the spice markets of the Middle East: fragrant powdery piles of tumeric and cumin, hanging strands of cinnamon, jars of cloves.

Here is what I created from this imagery:

These are my "Spice Market" earrings. They are currently for sale in my etsy shop. If you would like to cast a vote in their favour, please visit the TCET blog.

23 November 2009

Olympic Spirit

The countdown to Vancouver 2010 is on, and today the Olympic Torch made its arrival into my home province of New Brunswick. At 5:07 pm this evening the torch was slated to pass into Dieppe, and a few minutes later travel along the road behind where I live. Realising that the opportunity to see the Olympic torch relay is a rare event, and one that I may never again witness, I decided that I wanted to be a part of this proud tradition.

I missed it. I'm such a loser.

I probably could have seen it, if I hadn't stopped to go to the bathroom; get the garbage ready to be dropped off along the way, and; at the very last minute decide that a kicky little hat would help hide my unusually unruly mess of hair. But, I'm a special kind of loser.

As I headed to the corner where I planned to wait, I noticed a family with small Canada flags walking in the opposite direction, away from where the torch was at any moment going to be passing. I should have taken that as the first clue. Instead I excitedly carried on, and as I got to the corner I noticed that there was seemingly nothing special except for heavier than normal rush-hour traffic. Ever hopeful, I looked up the road... like an idiot. More traffic, more people talking excitedly as they walked away. Dismayed, I turned and look down the road in the direction that the torch would be travelling away from me. There in the distance were the flashing lights of the RCMP cars as they held back the traffic to let the torch pass. I walked toward the lights, all the while hoping that it was just a traffic accident and that the torch was still behind me. It was not to be.

A few blocks ahead, I heard a muffled roar of excitement. The torch was changing hands and carrying on. No! I picked up the pace, and using my briskest walk set forth. I almost caught up. Twice. But like a carrot on a stick, the flame eluded me. After I got held up at a very busy intersection the flame, carrying on its journey, outpaced me. I was not going to be able to catch up. Dejected, I turned back and slowly began walking home passing the excited spectators.

Then, I thought "It's not over yet. My Olympic journey will NOT end here!" Racing back home (well, racing is a strong word. I was tired from the first cold kilometre long walk, and used only my second briskest pace on this leg), I burst back into my apartment and looked to see where the flame was headed and where I could try to cut it off at the pass. I could still do it, but I had to be cunning, and quick, and most importantly, I could not get lost! This was going to be interesting as my geography skills are poor at best and the torch route sort of backtracked on itself at a strange angle. I ran back outside (stopping first to check my mail, having not already learned my lesson!) and jumped into the Matrix (Toyota, not Keanu!). I gunned the engine and roared away at a reasonable and safe speed.

I was again on my way. Then the gas light came on. Seriously? I turned up the road that I thought the flame might now be on. No flashing lights, no excited spectators. Nothing but cold, dark street. I traveled up a little further. Still nothing. I went on a little further and in my peripheral vision I caught the quickest flash of blue light. I did a couple of quick around the block moves and found the lights again a few blocks away. I made it. And this time I had not missed it. I had to wait a few minutes for the torch to arrive, but arrive it did. I witnessed history unfold.

And this my friends, is an example of the indomitable spirit on which Olympic dreams are built.
GO CANADA. Vancouver, 2010! Whoot!! (punches air with fist.... does not hurt self!)

Now, you'll have to take my word for it that this is in fact, a photo of the Olympic Torch.

Favorite Things - November 22

I don't think I have ever been shy in proclaiming my love for both fine red wine and very good dark chocolate. But I did I ever mention that the two together are my hands-down favorite food pairing? Its true: a good wine and a great chocolate when consumed together provide a truly transcendental experience. Imagine my delight then, when I discovered today's favorite thing.

Brix. A dark chocolate (60% OR 70%) that has been crafted for the sole purpose of being paired with red wine. The 60% chocolate is meant to pair with Zinfandel, Syrah, Rhone, Merlot and Shiraz. The 70% meanwhile is meant to pair with Cabernet-Sauvignon, Bordeaux or Barolo. I'm a 70%-Bordeaux sorta girl. Hm-mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Now, looking at their website I have discovered that there is a milk chocolate too. I'm not a great lover of milk chocolate but if it were paired with their suggestions of Port, Ice Wine, Rosé, Pinot Noir, or Burgundy, maybe I could be swayed to give it a sample.

From their website:
At (the) root is single origin Ghanaian chocolate, known for its red fruit tones, mixed with the highest quality confectionary chocolate. The result is a blend so pure in flavor that it actually enhances those nuances found in great wines, without confusing the palate.

And remember, both dark chocolate and red wine are good for the heart. I truly believe they are also good for the soul.

22 November 2009

Some Things to Watch For....

Three big things will be happening this week.

1) The Trans-Canada Etsy Team had a team challenge. Everyone was invited to create an item that was inspired by "spice". I sent my entry in (just in the nick of time). Voting should begin shortly, and I will post a link here.

2) Another item on the Trans-Canada Etsy Team agenda. A new promotion is beginning very soon. Maybe you remember our summer road-trip? A similar event is in the works. Details will be posted in the next couple days.

3) South of us, a big American-style holiday is looming. I plan to launch a promotion just for String Me Along to coincide with this.

Good things come in threes!! So keep checking back. Its going to be a very busy week!

Until then, here are a couple of new items in my shop:

The "Aurora Borealis on the Longest Night of the Year" bracelet, with shimmery Czech firepolished glass beads and lots of warm copper.

The "Winter Lily Pad" bobby pin. This has a patinaed brass stamping and a white lucite chrysanthemum cabochon.

And finally, the "Winter Berries" earrings. Stunning red Swarovski crystal meets sterling silver berry branches in a festive earring.

20 November 2009

Baby, Its Cold Outside.

Although it has been an unusually mild November, Jack Frost winks at me at each morning. It will not be long before the deep Canadian freeze settles in to stay for an extended period. Soon I will need to add an extra five minutes to my day to bundle up in layers and layers of scarves, mittens, hats, etc before heading out. I can't say that I mind too greatly, after all I have a great fondness for scarves and relish the opportunity to add a new one to my already overwhelming collection. If you find yourself without an adequate supply of warm winter gear however, fear not. I am here to point you in the right direction.

Now, because of my bias let's begin with a discussion on scarves. I love a nice long scarf that wraps around and around, allowing me to bury my nose, protecting it from the chill. And since you may see nothing more of me than the narrow strip between mid-nose and eyebrow, I better play up my hazel eyes. A scarf in blues and greens will brighten them. I do believe that this stunning scarf from Fluur, measuring more than a generous 58 inches would be a perfect option. It even has a super-long fringe which is always a fun addition to a scarf.

Now sometimes, okay rarely, I go someplace that requires me to dress up a little more, and on occasions like that, I like to have a shorter, flouncy scarf that can be kept nearby if the event area has a chill. Since I have become a huge fan of nuno-felting lately, this gorgeous scarf from mireilles caught my eye. I adore the vibrancy of the blue against the inky black.

Now, maybe my second favorite thing about winter is mittens and I can't explain why but, I have an unexplainable penchant for red mittens. I also think that fingerless mittens\gloves are a brilliant invention. As someone who likes to go out with a camera in the winter, I like to have fingers free for that perfect "Click" moment. You don't always have time to rip off a mitten before the moment passes. I think they can and should be pretty, though as well as practical, like these pretties by mosey.

Did you know that you lose most of your body heat from the top of your head. Stay warm and combat winter's bad hair days with a gorgeous hat. I love this layered cloche style from lizarietz.

If you wish to be a winter princess, this caplet is mandatory. It is just so gorgeous and flirty.

This caplet is from Nortique, who from cold and snowy Newfoundland, should know a thing or two about looking fresh and pretty through a long, cold winter. Do you think that there is any coincidence that three of the above sellers are from Canada? We Canadians know how to conquer the winter months with flair.

19 November 2009

Festive Fetes

Tonight we dress up and take the town by storm. Its the holidays, and there are bound to be a few parties to attend (... or crash!). Let's play dress up for a bit an d choose some of those perfect holiday party outfits.

First, let's say that we have a black tie ball to attend. We need to look elegant and refined, and nothing works better in a situation like this than basic black. But we don't want it to be staid and stiff. The perfect solution is this perfectly elegant floor length gown made of breathable, movable eco-friendly bamboo. Econica, the designer of this gorgeous frock, promises that it offers support, adds shape, yet is very comfortable. What a welcome relief.

If you are going to a more casual party, say the office Christmas party, you want to look dressy, yet casual and comfortable. You also must appear respectable. The last thing you want to over hear on Monday morning is people whispering about your scandalous cleavage, or super-short mini. You can still be sexy, but within reason. Try pairing an eye-catching top with a fitted pencil skirt. I love this DearLillie long sleeved shirt with a pop of festive colour around the face. With the added drama on the neckline, you can keep accessories to a minimum.

Finally, maybe its your intent to burn the midnight oil and dance the night away. Fine, but dress wisely. You want a dress that swirls, swishes and shimmies right along with you. You probably need something like this sassy number from yystudio. What gorgeous movement to that fabric!

I think we have the dresses covered. Let's move on to every girl's favorite part of dressing up - the accessories.

First, let's talk purses. I think for an dress up occasion no purse is better than a simple, elegant clutch. There are no bulky straps to interfere with your sexy bared shoulders, and if you are nervous, it grasping it keeps your hands from fluttering around anxiously. I am in love with clutches from FIAZCO. What a treat that I found a pretty clutch that matches perfectly all three of our above outfits. Meet Gwyneth... isn't she sweet, and just a little saucy?

Moving on to jewelry, your outfit really dictates which pieces you choose. You don't want all the interest in one area. For example, if you were wearing the shirt with all fantastic detailing around the neck, you want to choose a simple earring, and pair it with a bolder ring or bracelet. Imagine wearing this stunner of a ring from SpiderellaStudio with the above shirt. The rose matches the detailing on the neckline, but doesn't compete with it.

For the more elegant, lower cut, floor length gown, I would like to keep the visual interest near my face and necklace. I love the look of a multi-layered necklace, here enhanced by the elegance of pearls. This necklace from ERMoriginals is full of vintage romance.

Well, ladies, that's all. Now, put on your lipstick and dancing shoes. Don't do anything I wouldn't do. Happy Holidays!

18 November 2009


Let's make merry!! It wouldn't be the holidays without a few festive get-togethers. I think we'll look at a couple popular, fun entertaining scenarios: the evening wine and cheese party; the afternoon open house, and; the skating party.

Let's start with the adults only wine and cheese party. We'll invite the kiddies along later.

There are two staple ingredients necessary for a wine and cheese party, which I think you can guess. I'll help you out here by providing a useful link from Canadian Living on the cheese and wine basics.

Much as I love both cheese and wine, I'm more interested today in scouting out the fun add-ons. For example, a sweet onion confit like this one from lemonbird, would be a decadent and savoury addition to any cheese tray.

To add a little crunch to the cheese table, a bowl of spiced or sweet nuts is a perennial favorite. These nuts by marasmaples combine sweet and salty: spiced maple pecans.

Now for some fun party accessories. Cocktail napkins are necessary. But the paper ones are not exactly eco-friendly, and they really don't swipe up too much excess wine from the upper lip. Fabric cocktail napkins in festive fabrics are a much better option. These ones come from fabnaps.

You'll probably want to avoid having moisture rings appear on your polished wood furniture. These handy little coasters can slip right onto the base of a stemmed glass, so no need to worry about finding a coaster as you travel, and no confusing your glass with someone else's. DimmalimmHome is the genius behind these.

There we go, that covers the basics for a good wine and cheese party. Let's move onto the afternoon Open House, which is probably best not scheduled for the early afternoon following the wine and cheese party.

For this more casual get together, where guests come and go at no real appointed time, it is best to have on hand a selection of warm and cold drinks. This may be an event that is best alcohol-free unless most of your guests are local and likely to arrive on foot. There are plenty of fabulous alcohol free beverages though that are fitting for the season: cranberry juice, or punch; pomegranate Italian soda or sparkling water; and of course the ever-pleasing warm mug of mulled cider. The added benefit of cider being that as you mull the cider, the intoxicating warming aromas fill your home. I have tried to use my own spices to mull cider before, but I never seem to get it right. This spice blend from bayberrymeadowherbs has all the necessary pleasing elements however, as well as cinnamon sticks to add style when served.

To go with the cider, I can think of nothing better than a crumbly, melt in your mouth shortbread. Don't these not-quite- traditional brown sugar gingerspice shortbread look divine? You can thank whimsyandspice for these creations.

Brew some coffee and tea, and offer a biscotti alongside. Whimsyandspice also has tempting biscotti flavours on offer.

And for parting gifts, treat your guests to a little treat to go. Maybe a couple of assorted caramels? LeBellaCaramella offers an intriguing assortment of flavoured soft caramels. Pictured here are the fall flavoured caramels, but I am verrry intrigued also, by the thai coconut and lemongrass flavour.

Just tuck a few caramels into some favour boxes, traditionally used for weddings, but just fine also for any occassion. I love these simple yet elegant black and white damask pattern boxes.

Whewww... one more party down, one more to go. This next one is easy. We'll be heading to the rink soon, and then back to the house to warm up. All you really need for this party is a warm and cozy treat to bring the warmth back to cold noses and toes.

A frothy cup of hot chocolate....mmmmm. For a change of pace, why not try a French Vanilla hot chocolate mix. This one is from tetoncocoacompany.

And if everyone was extra good today, they surely deserve a marshmallow. I love the idea of these candy cane flavoured 'mallows from haveitconfections.

And, that's it. Our entertaining responsibilities are over. Next, we get to enjoy being a guest, and we will do it dressed in full holiday glam. Tomorrow, we prepare for our night out.