Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Hot Chocolate Favors

Cam and I really embraced the winter theme of our wedding and wanted to give our guests a practical favor that captured the season. While we considered all sorts of ideas, we kept coming back to giving out hot chocolate as a favor. Unfortunately, all that came to mind were images like this, which neither of us were impressed by:

So, we didn't commit to the idea and continued our search. Until we came across this:

Photo Source: The Inspired Bride

That was it. Decision made, we were in love. Classy, simple and could be tailored to our colour scheme. This photo and idea came from The Inspired Bride who posted a step-by-step tutorial here.

We used the materials she recommended, purchasing the vials from SKS Bottles and printing her tags which she kindly provided a PDF template for. It couldn't get any easier! We purchased three different kinds of hot chocolate from the Bulk Barn - White, Milk and Mint hot chocolates - and filled 300+ vials.

After scouring Queen Street West for the perfect ribbon (when you get married, suddenly perfect ribbon becomes irrationally critical), we wrapped one of each kind of hot chocolate vial up and tied on the tags.

Voila! Our finished product:


HUG's Cookies & Champagne Event

Last night I attended a Cookies and Champagne Party! Those who know me will agree, this is right up my alley. The event was hosted by Hip & Urban Girls Lisa Ng and Wendy Kam. This was my first Hip & Urban Girl (HUG) event, but do these women ever know how to throw a party!

The idea was to bring 4 dozen cookies to exchange with others. So, this past weekend I went to work baking and decorating.

I'm really proud of how my cookies turned out. Here I am setting my cookies out at the event:

The melted snowmen were my favorite - how could you not laugh at these!

Obviously they caught the official photographer's eye too and the Hip and Urban Girls named it "the MOST original cookie of the night" in their recap post!

Barefoot Wine supplied the champagne portion of the evening and I really enjoyed the Barefoot Bubbly Pinot Grigio ($12.95, LCBO). They were also serving the Barefoot Bubbly Moscato Spumante ($13.15, LCBO) but I found it much too sweet for my tastes.

Guests enjoyed glasses of bubbly while shopping the mini-market of local vendors that was set up. I purchased a fantastic lip gloss from MarieNatie Cosmetics and an all-natural cuticle cream from Pura Vida Spa...ahh!

After the shopping, bubbly and networking with great women, the "exchange" started.

I came home with this delicious pile of cookies:

Yes, I took one of my own. :)

Overall, a really successful event. I'll be watching for more HUG events and will be marking my calendar for next year's Cookies & Champagne Party!

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Time for the Holidays!!

This weekend marked the beginning of the Holidays and Christmas this year. Normally Cam is insistent on waiting until the first weekend in December, but he must have been feeling the holiday spirit because he agreed to decorate and put up our tree a week early this year!

This was also Zander's first introduction to Christmas so he was, as usual, eager to be involved and included. This year we decided on a red, white and silver theme for our decor, and I really like how it turned out!

We also visited Cam's mom to help her decorate her house. I love her fireplace and mantel! So cozy for the holidays.

I was once again inspired by Pinterest and suggested we add these hanging ornaments as decoration. They turned out really nicely, and we came up with the idea of adding a garland with lights around this doorway next year, for even more of an impact.

I really enjoyed my weekend of decorating, baking, shopping and listening to holiday music. I've embraced the holidays, and hope this enthusiasm only grows as we get closer and closer to Christmas! Afterall, the journey is just as fun as the destination.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cam's Projects

I'm not the only one being creative around the house. Cam, who has been afraid of hanging anything on the wall ever since our IKEA shelf came crashing down on us in 2006, has been hanging and mounting things around our condo ever since we moved in.

Our condo is a finished loft space, which means for the most part there is only a thin piece of drywall covering solid concrete. With the use of a hammer drill, pretty much anything can be hung up with confidence.

First, he put these shelving units in our washroom:
(note: we love Kitchen Stuff Plus! The baskets and art are from there too)

Then, Cam hung our pot rack above the island (such a space saver!!):

This week, after a recent TV upgrade, he mounted our old tv from the ceiling at the foot of our bed. Given the small size of our bedroom and the fact that the sliding door needs to get by, this is a genius solution!

Finally, he mounted a small wall shelf and mail/key station at our front door. We've been looking for a hall table, but they're all so big or so expensive. This inexpensive solution here solves our problem of somewhere to drop our keys, wallets and mail and takes up almost no space at all!

So what should we put up next? Any other space saving ideas for condo-living? Feel free to comment below with suggestions!

P.S. Note to self: Take better photos.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Our First Look

One of my favorite moments of our wedding day was our First Look. Since we opted to take photos before the ceremony, we would miss out on the traditional "grand entrance". Instead, we created a private moment, just us (and our photographers) where we would see each other for the first time.

We chose the beautiful front staircase at One King West, and after seeing the photos - I think it was the perfect choice.

After getting ready in seperate suites, I made my way down the back elevator. I couldn't stop staring at myself as a bride and fidgeting with last minute adjustments.

As I made my way through the ballroom towards the top of the staircase, my handsome groom was waiting patiently (yes, I was late!) for me at the bottom of the staircase.

Then, I appeared over the banister, seeing him for the first time on our wedding day.

As I made the walk down the stairs, we couldn't keep our eyes off each other...

Then - the hug, the kiss, and the mandatory twirl to get the full view!

We're getting MARRIED!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Coffee Filter Flowers

Beautiful flower, right? Even better - its made of coffee filters! Yet again, I've been inspired by Pinterest.

This photo is from Brown Paper Packages, who made a gorgeous bouquet following Michella Maria's tutorial found here. Michella's tutorial is so great, I'm not going to replicate it. I'll just refer you to her.

However, I did learn a few tips and tricks along the way that I can share.

(1) This is an art, not a science.

It's less important to follow the tutorial exactly right, and more important to get the hang of the general idea of the technique. Your first few tries will NOT look as good as you hope (but keep at it!).

Tip #1: Don't start with the recommended 10 coffee filters. Use fewer until you get the hang of it - they'll be easier to work with - and then add more as you become comfortable.

Tip #2: Maybe I'm just a messy person, or I bought cheap coffee filters, but my coffee filter became soggy and ripped while trying to glue it to the floral wire. I found it much easier to adhere it using wrapped floral tape, like this:

On that note...

(2) Floral tape is the stickiest material I've ever used.

Unless you've used it before, look into how to use floral tape. I found these tips helpful. Most importantly:

Tip #3: Floral tape must be stretched in order for it to stick to itself. Otherwise, you think you're tightly wrapping the flower, and it all falls out. I found it easiest to break of a manageable piece, and stretch it out before beginning to work with it. Like this:

(3) Once you get the hang of it - it's easy!

Once you master the technique, they really only take a few minutes to make. Then you can transfer your skills to other types of flowers like daffodils or coloured roses!

Here's a photo of an almost-finished flower, with Zander helping:

And finally... a whole bouquet decorating my washroom:

Update: I found these pretty silver stones (2 x $1.99, IKEA) to add to the vase. This project is officially complete now!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Birthday Recap

I celebrated my 25th Birthday in style, in a private room at The Keg Mansion - one of my absolute favorite places in the city. I have to say a big thank you to everyone for coming and making the night special. I will definitely cherish the memory of this evening spent with those closest to me. 

I was lucky enough to have TWO celebrations this year, as Cam arranged for another group of friends to celebrate with us the following night in Guelph, at a country bar. Live country music is definitely my scene. I had a blast re-living my Nashville memories, dancing and singing all night long. Now I just have to find a good country bar in Toronto!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday - Happy Birthday to Me!

Today, I'm 25 years old.This quarter century landmark couldn't come at a better time. Reflecting on the past years, I'm amazed at what I've accomplished. I've earned two degrees, started a career, married my best friend and bought my first home. Not too bad, right? I feel good about who I am, the path I'm on and the life I'm leading. Yet, I'm only 25. I have so much to accomplish, so many of life's milestones still ahead of me.

And so, today, I celebrate!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Birthday Enthusiasm from Momma

I think my mom is more excited about my birthday than I am. Well, okay, maybe not - but close! She began sending birthday wishes on November 8th (a whole 10 days before my birthday) with this facebook post:

Since then, I've received a daily birthday image posted to my facebook wall. Here's the collection:

And more...

Who taught my momma how to use Google Images??

On any other occasion I might introduce my mom to the concept of spamming or to the website 'Oh Crap. My Parents Joined Facebook' but since she gave birth to me and all, I'll let this one go.

Plus, its nice. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas Budget Challenge

This year, my husband and I are lucky enough to be celebrating Christmas with both our mothers together! For the first year in our relationship, we're not doing the 3+ stop holiday road trip. We've narrowed it down to two - one in Canada, and the other in Belgium (but that's for another post).

As we come together in a bigger group this year, we've agreed to place less emphasis on shopping and gift giving, and more emphasis on spending a fun time together. Hence, the Christmas Budget Challenge: to spend no more than $50 on gifts for any other person.

For me, this will most definitely be a challenge.

I love the holidays. L-O-V-E LOVE the holidays. I love shopping busy malls right up to the last minute. You'll find me, Starbucks Peppermint Latte in hand, wandering the Eaton Centre the afternoon of the 23rd, singing along to the Christmas Carols we've all heard one to many times and lining up with other last minute shoppers to get that small garnish gift or neat stocking stuffer. Most of all, I love spoiling the people I love. They'll always deserve that one more gift, or item that made me smile and think of them.

But, in the spirit of fairness and an experience-based, non-materialistic Christmas, I'm going to give this budget challenge my best shot.

To stretch my gift budget a little farther and to keep myself out of the malls, I'm taking on a few DIY projects inspired by the Happy Housewife's 100 Days of Homemade Christmas Gifts.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Me and My Projects

I like to project. Project, an untraditional use of the verb. I don't mean I like to speak loudly (in fact I'm quite quiet) or cause an image to appear. I mean I like to take on projects!

Some are challenges, others are merely activities to keep me busy. While projects may be meaningful or useful, many have no greater purpose. The term "project" is vague, which is exactly why I like using it to describe my interests. I may blog about my current projects (baking, reading, DIY crafting, travel and relationships), I may reflect on past projects (academics and wedding planning) but most importantly, I want to be open to exploring any number of interests, opportunities or experiences that may come my way.

When I'm inspired by something, I often want to read it/make it/do it - experience it for myself! Many of my project ideas come from others, and I'll do my best to give credit where credit is due. I'm not a super creative person (unfortunately) but I take direction well. For that reason, I'm usually inspired more than I'm inspiring. I enjoy browsing all sorts of blogs, and I'm addicted to Pinterest.

As I blog about my projects I hope to share the sources of my inspiration, my own experiences and maybe even inspire someone else to take on a project of their own. And as I set this goal, I realize blogging has become my latest project...