Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!

December 31, 2013

My, my, my... where has the time gone! I can't believe we are already saying goodbye to 2013 and are about to start a new year. I know it happens on the same day every year, but it sort of tends to sneak up on me! And I probably say this every year, but this past year has felt like the best one yet (graduating from university and deciding to chop off my hair definitely top the list)!  Two thousand and fourteen sounds like a good year, doesn't it? I am already looking forward to graduating again (but hopefully for the last time), going on an European adventure, and starting my career! So bring it on 2014! 

In the meantime I am reflecting on my most dearest moments, and the word thankful is not enough to describe how I feel about this year! Here are some my favourite moments, on and off the blog. 

Thank you so, so much for reading and following along on my Pastels and Pastries journey! Exciting things are to come. 

xx
gabriella 

A Classic New Year's Eve

December 27, 2013


I do love any excuse to celebrate, but the whole New Year's Eve routine has got to be a bit repetitive over the past few years.  In order to avoid all the unnecessary pressure put on this one evening (that just tends to end up with expectations unfulfilled) I told myself I would not be buying a new outfit for New Years Eve. 

That was until I saw this dress. I spotted it back in October in the Dynamite window, and I was surprised by how much I loved it. Still unsure how it would look, I ordered it online when they were having free shipping and I thought that even if I have to return it, so be it. I love that even though it's classic black and white, it is definitely unlike anything I own, which I am thrilled about. I mean it's basically a turtle neck, has long sleeves  and as my boyfriend says, "resembles a carpet"- which I am totally okay with! However, I couldn't say no to a little sparkle, so I'll be pairing it with my red pumps and KSNY glitter clutch. 

What are your New Year's Eve plans? 

Christmas Kindness

December 25, 2013


The past few days have been complete chaos around here. In case you haven't heard, Toronto and the GTA were hit with a freakish ice storm three days ago, and many are still without power and heat. We only just received power, heat and water last night and the amount of love and kindness I have experienced during our outage was remarkable. We really thought we would have to cancel our Christmas dinner! From friends who gave me a warm place to sleep and shower, to the hydro workers who came to our house at 5:00pm on Christmas Eve to ensure we would have power for today, thank you! Merry Christmas to all, and enjoy this day with your loved ones because without them there would be no light in this world!

Feeling Festive

December 23, 2013


Red, glitter, and leopard- pretty much the trifecta of holiday attire in my eyes. Friday night we had our second holiday party of the season and since it was a bit more casual I went with my favourite sparkly leopard sweater dress, booties, and my go to red lipstick, Lady Danger (by MAC). I can't forget my extreme glitter clutch, that I am actually obsessed with. I've been wearing it everywhere and anywhere, even better is that it has a strap tucked inside. Gotta love the versatility! But seriously, 'tis the season to be sparkly, fa la la la la la, la la la la! 
{Mink Pink sweater dress, Juicy coat, Kate Spade clutch, Sam Edelman booties}

Packaging Baked Goods

December 20, 2013

After I made these cookies I decided they would be the perfect little gifts to bring to holiday parties.  I had to first think of a creative way to package them that didn't involve the dreaded cellophane and curly ribbon. I decided on a really easy method that I think looks great. Here's what I used and how I did it: 
  • brown paper bags
  • scissors 
  • thin string
  • ribbon
  • tape
  • sparkly card-stock
  • hole-punch 
  • baked goods to go inside
  1. By cutting some card stock I made homemade gift tags. I wrote my notes on the back, hole-punched them, and put them off to the side.
  2. Take the brown paper bag and cut off a couple inches from the top opening depending on how big you want the package to be.
  3. Fold over top portion of the bag to act as a flap (roughly 2 inches).
  4. Place baked goods inside the bag.
  5. Use a bit of tape to seal the underside of the flap to the bag.
  6. Using decorative ribbons, tie a bow around the filled bag.
  7. Using thinner string go over the previously tied bow and attach tag forming another bow.
So, so simple! And how cute would these be as place settings too! I suggest to make sure the cookies are cold and hard so no icing smudges. And it's best to package the day of since the oils from the butter may go through the bags! Enjoy! 




'Tis The Season

December 19, 2013


It's so easy to get caught up in all the commotion that occurs this time of year, whether it be in the malls, in the kitchen or even in your head. Besides trying to slow the fast paced season down, I am really trying to focus on giving, and avoiding the whole "one for you, one for me" mentality while shopping. Instead I've been trying to find the perfect gifts for my loved ones, and up my game in the wrapping department. Not to mention focus on the real reason for this season, which is not presents but our presence and that of our family and friends. 

What is your main focus this Holiday season? Maybe a little game of pay it forward? 


Holiday Gift Guide: For Him

December 18, 2013

Concluding this season's gift guides will be that for the male in your life. Boyfriend, dad, brother-  these gifts are pretty interchangeable once you take into account personal style and taste.  Well, if you are like me and still have yet to finish Christmas shopping. And no I do not need to be reminded that Christmas is exactly one week today! Oh well. Wish me luck as I brace myself for the malls!


1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

If you are really far behind in your shopping check out my other gift guides: for the hostess, and your best gal

Around Town: Christmas Edition

December 17, 2013

If the bright lights, perfectly decorated window displays, and copious amounts of holiday harmonies taking over the city hasn't satisfied your holiday bug, I really hope you managed to visit the Toronto Christmas Market over the past few weeks. I love going to the Christmas Market for many reasons- the ginormous tree, the mulled wine, the local vendors and most importantly how it really embodies that European charm I see to be addicted to. The Christmas Market takes over the historic Distillery District for two weeks every December and livens the streets with an outdoor fair that looks straight out of a movie. Surprisingly I managed to get there twice this year- once with some friends from out of town, and again with my boyfriend and his family, so I can definitely say if there is one place that can bring out the holiday cheer in anyone, by way of Christmas traditions and entertainment, it's here! 

Did you brave the cold (and snow) and get a chance to visit the market this year? 

Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing

December 16, 2013


 A few years ago I asked my aunt for her famous sugar cookie recipe and now every time I make them my mind becomes flooded with childhood memories. Her cookies were always baked to perfection, iced in pretty colours, cut into fun shapes and I could not wait to dive into them at any chance I could get! This year I decided to put a pastel spin on the classic Christmas shapes and I'm so excited to bring them out on Christmas day where she can give mine a taste. Follow the recipe below and make these for any occasion, I promise you won't be disappointed!








Sugar Cookie:
3/4 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 TSP vanilla
2 1/2 cups four
1 TSP baking powder
1 TSP salt
  1. Thoroughly mix butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla.
  2. Blend in flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Cover dough at least 1 hour to chill in refrigerator.
  4. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Roll dough 1/8 inch thick on  floured board.
  6. Cut our shapes and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake 6-8 minutes. (makes about 4 dozen)
Royal Icing:
4 cups sifted powered sugar
3 tablespoons meringue powder
8-10 tablespoons of warm water
  1. On a medium speed, beat powered sugar and meringue powder together.
  2. Gradually add in the warm water- 1 TSP at a time (you may find you don't need all 10).
  3. Stop beating when icing is texture of toothpaste (not too runny, not too thick). 
  4. Separate into bowls and add desired food colouring.
  5. Put icing into squeeze bottles or icing bags and pipe away (I start by outlining the cookie and then flood the inside adding more as necessary). 
I usually ice the cookies the day after I bake them because the process tends to be long. Don't let this discourage you! They are the cutest little cookies and are just as delicious as they look.



Being Productive At Home

December 13, 2013


Over the past few years I've caught myself in too many scenarios of procrastination that I would like to admit, obviously all occurring around the dreaded exam season. However, these instances have also made me realize when it's time to stop binge watching a new series on Netflix, and get things done. I have somewhat developed a system in order to stay productive at home and I wanted to share my tips in case you find yourself unmotivated to do anything that isn't Holiday related this exam season.

*Personally, I am more productive in the AM, so in order to benefit the most from these hours, I set my alarm early and get straight out of bed. I then follow my usual routine of washing my face, brushing my teeth and making coffee.

*I always make sure to change out of pyjamas, even if it's just to get into comfy pants, a sweater and fuzzy socks. This will help you to re-focus and make you feel more energetic. 

*My desk is in my room, which can sometimes be a bit distracting. To ensure I don't hop back into my inviting, unmade bed, I allot some time for cleaning and declutteing. Having a clean, organized work space gives a fresh attitude and a clear mind to complete tasks. Natural light gives off a much more positive vibe so I also like to open all curtains and blinds.

*Reward yourself with breaks, but be sure to measure when to take them by material, not by time. Let me explain: if I know my break is in 10 minutes I am more likely to be thinking about all the things to do on that break instead of actually focusing on what I'm studying.  Tell yourself you can have a break when you finish a certain chapter or get to a certain page. 

*Do not get back into bed thinking you will just do a little reading lying down. Speaking from experience, this effects all productivity levels and may or may not result in a 2 hour nap.

*And if nothing seems to be motivating, I switch up my workspace. Take over the kitchen table, or head to the nearest library or Starbucks and regroup. 

This morning marked the end of another semester for me! I am jumping back into bed to rest my pounding head and wrap myself in my waterfall duvet- but first to catch up on some missed episodes of Homeland

Holiday Gift Guide: For the Best Friend

December 10, 2013

Every year my girlfriends and I host a Holiday dinner party, and it has since turned into being my most favoured activity of the season. Instead of buying gifts for everyone, we do a ruthless form of Kris Kringle. Everyone draws a number and the person with number 1 opens a gift. The next person has the option to steal the previously opened gift or grab a new one, and the rest follow in that manner. We put into effect a (more or less) 40 dollar limit, but sometimes buying a gift that can suit anyone can be a bit difficult. We play this game for the fun factor and not to make anyone feel cheated, so I tend to abide by a certain gift guide every year to ensure everyone goes home happy. Below are some options I am considering for this year's gift. 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11

As Of Late..

December 06, 2013

Between final exams and projects, and trying to get ready for Christmas, the past few weeks have been a blur. I still have one more week to get through before the semester is over and then I can really focus on the Holidays. Since I tend to over-stress and in turn forget to enjoy the little things, I've been making a point to relax, and sneak in some fun activites. For starters, visiting the new Ripley's Aquarium of Canada with a friend in from out of town, and decorating and indulging in treats at every chance I get (if you have never tried the waffles at Le Petit Déjeuner go now, and immerse yourself in all things Belgian)! Hang in there to everyone else trying to get through finals, and I'll see you back here in one weeks time! 

You can follow along on Instagram for updates like these!

Top Holiday Movies

November 30, 2013


One of my favourite holiday traditions has to be sitting in front of the fireplace, hot chocolate in hand (topped with a gazillion marshmallows, obvi) and a stack of Christmas movies to watch. It doesn't matter how many times I've seen the flicks, there is something so nostalgic and wonderful about this activity that it has become a must-do every holiday season. While I don't claim to have seen all the classics (I am embarrassed to admit that I haven't even watched The Polar Express, or Miracle on 34th Street), I thought I would put together a little list of my favourite motion pictures to watch! 

Love Actually- Love is all around. Christmas is all around. It's just so good. 

The Christmas Story- The funniest Christmas movie, ever.  It literally gets me every time; the leg lamp, the bunny costume, "you'll poke your eye out, kid"! Must watch, if you haven't already.  

The Holiday- I am a sucker for any movie that takes me abroad, and Iris' (Kate Winslet) little English cabin steals my heart every time. Since this movie combines Jude Law's gorgeousness and Jack Black's quirkiness, it makes my list.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation- Again, soooo funny! I'm cracking up just thinking about the shenanigans that surround Clark and Eddie.

Frosty the Snowman- I know it's from 1969 but come on! Classic. 

The Grinch- Do you prefer the Jim Carey version or the classic cartoon? Maybe I keep watching the Jim Carey version because we saw the Whoville set on a family trip to L.A. (no, not during filming, just a Universal Studios Tour), but regardless it's a Christmas classic. 

The Santa Clause- The first one, and the first one only. 

Home Alone- I think this series (well no 1 and 2, specifically) goes on everyone's list. Number 1 is a classic, and number 2 takes place in New York City, and NYC during the holidays is dreamier than Jude Law in The Holiday. I'll leave you with this one: Merry Christmas ya filthy animal! 

Honourable mentions include Elf, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Jingle All the Way (the things Arnold does for that Turbo Man!).

Thought I would throw in the movies I refuse to watch. Firstly, Bad Santa. Lorelai, what were you thinking? Also, Jack Frost. I am never able to get past the first fifteen minutes. 

Did I miss any notables? What are your favourite holiday movies? 

Holiday Gift Guide : For the Hostess

November 22, 2013

December is a mere week away, which means the holiday parties are about to begin (cue the bells, music and carollers now)! While it is not always necessary to buy a hostess gift, it is definitely appreciated. Below are some fabulous gifts that any hostess I know would love to receive. And don't worry if these aren't in your budget, receiving homemade treats in pretty packaging or a bouquet of flowers is sometimes even better!




1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 

The Problem with DSLR Cameras

November 20, 2013

I have recently found photography, so to speak. Not in regards to my own picture taking skills, as they are far from extraordinary, but I have really grown an appreciation for a beautiful shot (since I know how difficult they can be to capture). But, besides all the different techniques that I will probably never master, there is one thing I struggle with on a day-to-day basis: the lack of a fashionable carrying bag. If you're not quivering at the below options (obviously above the line) then I don't know what to say, except you should stop reading now.

This may seem like a silly issue to have, but seriously try fitting a Canon Rebel T3i in a clutch! When are designers going to realize that bulky cameras are a norm now, and there is a need for a more appealing, safe, and functional bag. I am in the process of planning a fairly extensive trip and not taking my camera is simply not an option. But are my options really to sling it over my shoulder alongside my cross body for all to see? Or, should I continue with my current method of suffocating my camera in a large bag with shirts, scarves, and any other make-shift protective gear I can find? With my collection of mini bags growing rapidly, and the convenience of travelling with few items, something tells me I am more likely to go with the first option. 

You're probably thinking "didn't Rebecca Minkoff come out with a stylish camera bag?" and yes, she in fact came out with two. After measuring the dimensions of my camera for the umpteenth time I concluded that sadly it will not fit in the Craig Camera Bag (and unfortunately her slightly bigger Collin Camera Bag is not in my travel budget). So, until we see more stylish and fashionable camera bags, I would love to know- how do you carry around your digital SLR?  Do you have any travelling-with-a-bulky-camera tips?

Party Couture

November 19, 2013

Last week we celebrated my mother's birthday, and while she was out of the house I decided to do a bit of decorating. Since I was running late for class I opted for a quick and easy DIY tassel garland to hang above the buffet which held her flowers, cupcakes and gifts. I used some tissue paper I had lying around the house and followed the instructions found here (I won't bother going into detail because she does such a good job of explaining the process). I was a bit pressed for time so I couldn't fix some of the mistakes I made, like tangling/ripping the fringe, or cutting some tassels too short, but overall it looked lovely! It may not look identical to the infamous Confetti System, but it sure made an impression! She even kept it up for a few days! I'm already visualizing a red, cream and gold garland for my annual girls Christmas party. Try it out, and add a little pretty to your party! 

Project Photo Wall

November 09, 2013









There is nothing less motivating than staring at a blank, white wall. Since my desk was facing this wall of emptiness, I realized it needed a rejuvenation and since doing so, my newly finished gallery wall has brought a smile to my face nearly every time I look up and am reminded by memories, love and all around happiness. I have to admit, before I started the process of sourcing supplies I was a tad intimidated and I wondered if I would ever pull it off, but the whole project turned out to be so fun and easy (especially since my handy boyfriend helped me with all the tough stuff). It was really important for me to personalize the space, so I incorporated not just photos but beautiful cards, notes and prints on the wall.  Most of the items used were things I have been collecting over the years, like the handmade card of Japanese stamps my cousin sent me while teaching there, or the calendar cut out of Audrey Hepburn sitting on a dock. In case you are interested in creating your own personal gallery wall here is the process I followed:



1. Source your pictures. These do not have to be store bought prints. Remember to look through your memory boxe for pretty cards, magazine or calendar cut outs, photo booth pictures, and of course your favourite images.

2. Find frames to fit your items. I found many of my frames in my basement, but also bought a few from Ikea for a steal. Also, use matting to give some pictures a bit of depth. I also used this DIY collage frame so I could display current notes and multiple pictures easily.

3. Using painter's tape, tape off the area on the wall you want to cover. Then measure this area and tape off the exact same shape on the floor. You will use this to decide how you want to display your pretty things. 

4. I wanted my pictures to form a rectangle, so I started placing photos in the box on the floor making sure that spaces were somewhat even and frame colours were balanced. 
**Unfortunately I did not account for pre-existing holes in the wall from old frames so I had to make some last minute adjustments to my display.

5. Take a picture of how you want your gallery wall to look (just in case you need a reminder while you're on the ladder), and start hanging! 

Remember to have fun with it and create something you love to look at each day!






Cold Weather Necessities

November 06, 2013

Aside from the obvious winter coat and pair of boots, there are a few accessories that are essential to have when the cold weather hits. Here in Toronto we have already been graced with single digit temperatures, and since other parts of Canada are experiencing snow I thought this would be the perfect time to whip out the cold weather accessory guide! 
1.Honeycomb Stitch Infinity Scarf- Since my scarves usually double as a pillow for the train and a blanket for early morning classes, I need a scarf that is soft, warm, and big. Old Navy has this scarf in a variety of colours and is a serious steal.

2.Colorblock Oversized Eternity Scarf- Since scarves are a serious fall and winter staple for me it is imperative to have options! 

3.Wilfred Wool Cashmere Socks- The feeling of putting on cashmere socks in the early morning is divine. These will keep your feet warm throughout the day!

4.Knots On Earwarmer-Most wintercoats are neutral in colour. I like to find an accessory in a bright colour that will keep my spirits up for the grey, dull days ahead. 

5.Fierecly Spotted Leopard Print Beanie-I am loving the variety of toques lately! With so many to choose from I am on the hunt for something fun and complementary to all outfits. Leopard suits just about any outfit to me! 

6.Karen Walker Harvest Sunglasses-I may be getting ahead of myself here, but snow reflects some serious UV rays and can be blinding (especially for those of us with light eyes)!  Sunglasses are just as much a necessity in winter as they are in summer.

7.Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream-Cold weather means your skin is exposed to the elements. To stay protected from cold winds, and hot furnace air I like to use Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream. It's light and hydrating. 

8.L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream-As much as our face takes a beating in the cold weather so does our hands! I keep a rich moisturizer with me at all times. 

9.Kate Spade Perforated Leather Gloves-A nice pair of gloves are essential for going out. The colour and the bow sold me. 

10.Texting Lined Gloves-As silly as it sounds, I hate taking off my gloves in the cold to write a text or change a song. These texting lined gloves are key for day to day activities like walking around town and waiting at bus stops. 

How To: Halloween Party

November 04, 2013






One thing to note is that I adore organizing events. Some do call me a tad crazy, but I like to think of my love of party-planning as a gift that I can share with everyone (it may not be a gift in the process, so watch out). This year I decided to throw my first Halloween party, and although I was still in Vegas mode the days leading up to the party, it still managed to come together. All this last minute planning even scored me a few deals  (thank you Bulk Barn for putting all remaining festive candy 75% off the day after Halloween)! Throwing a halloween party does not have been complicated or expensive, it can be quite fun as long as you work that creativity! To break down the party I will first start with the decoration details then move on to desserts. As you will see below, we were going for an eerie look. What do you think? 
Decorations
Black roses: Initially I bought these from Dollar Tree to put in vases, but the day of I decided to cut each stemmed rose to hang individually from the ceiling above the sweet table. When we lit up the candles they definitely upped the ambiance! 


Old candles: My friend and I scoured her basement and found a bunch of creepy looking, old, used candles. We decided to group them together on a tray and drip red "blood" (paint) on each candle. Wicked effect! Also, we placed candles all around the room to add a supernatural element. 


Tablecloths: For the dessert buffet we used ripped old white shirts to act as coverage. For the dinning table we used an old white sheet and (while I was away) my friends kindly bloodied it up! They went full out with red hand prints and wrote words such as "kill" and "murder" all over it. So cool!

Jarred creepers: We put toy snakes and fake human hearts in mason jars and filled them up with water, a drop of milk, and some food colouring. To create a glowing effect we placed candles around the jars. These were actually spine-chilling!

Spiders: We placed them anywhere and everywhere. 
Desserts
Blood spattered cupcakes: Just a marble cupcake and some buttercream icing.  But, to top them off I splattered red food colouring all over the icing. I think Dexter would approve.

Caramel apples: I loved how the twigs added a rustic, eerie feel! This was my first time making caramel apples, and I did not anticipate the challenge I had from melting the caramel. I am determined to perfect them! 
Popcorn: We popped some kernels on the stovetop and added some candy and chocolate while it was still hot. Made for a mysterious mix of goodies! 

Candy: Like I said, I scored at Bulk Barn and served a wide variety of festive bonbons.  


With Halloween falling on a Thursday and the party falling on a Friday, I knew I wouldn't be able to send some spooky inspiration your way in time for this year's festivities, but I hope you keep these simple, inexpensive, yet dramatic ideas in mind for next year! Remember, getting a little creative with the decorations can really impact the overall look of the party, and in this case can boost the scare factor! 




**Self serve bars are key! Don't forget to make a crimson red punch and add some garnishes on the side, and obviously fun straws.