November 30, 2013

Top Holiday Movies

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? 


November 22, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide : For the Hostess

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 


November 20, 2013

The Problem with DSLR Cameras

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?

November 19, 2013

Party Couture

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! 


November 09, 2013

Project Photo Wall

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!


November 06, 2013

Cold Weather Necessities

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. 


November 04, 2013

How To: Halloween Party

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? 
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. 
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. 
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