Friday, February 20, 2015

the best cinnamon-sugar donut muffins you'll ever eat






Do you remember eating cinnamon toast as a kid? I loved it. This recipe is an ode to those nostalgic days (makes me feel like I'm 7 again!) and is also the perfect comfort food. You'll end up feeling warm and cozy, no matter what the weather.

I made these sweet cinnamon coated cakey donuts yesterday and posted the recipe today. This lack of procrastination is testament to how bonkers delicious they are and how badly I wanted to share them with you. Plus the recipe comes together easily and will fill your house with the most heavenly scent.

The hardest part is waiting for them to cool so you can dunk them in the melted butter and cinnamon sugar and eat 'em. Consider yourself warned: your patience will be tested but it's well worth the wait.

Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Muffins
Makes 12 muffins or 24 mini donuts
Adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

Here's what you need to make them:
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or ground nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons buttermilk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs

For the doughnut coating:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

To make the muffins: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly spray 12 large muffin cups with vegetable oil spray OR if making mini donuts, lightly spray two mini donut pans.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cardamom. In a medium bowl, combine the milk and buttermilk.

In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium speed, cream the butter for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the speed to low and gradually add the sugar. Continue to mix until the mixture lightens in color. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until combined. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the milk mixture, mixing just until smooth; do not overmix or they will become dense.

With a large ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them approximately two-thirds full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are firm to the touch and lightly golden. Please note: I used a teaspoon to fill the mini donuts pans and the mini donuts were done after about 17 minutes.

While the muffins bake, set up two bowls to dunk them in. In one bowl you will have the melted butter, and in the other bowl you will have the cinnamon sugar.

Let the donuts cool completely on a wire rack (waiting is the hard part!). Dunk them in the melted butter, then coat them with the cinnamon sugar. The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Enjoy!

Notes:
  • Please don't omit the cardamom. Although it's only a teensy amount, it makes such a difference in flavour and aroma.  Trust me, it's worth seeking out. 
  • With the batter, I made a combo of 12 (very large) mini donuts and 5 muffins. 
  • The Back in the Day Bakery is my new favourite cookbook. I bought if for myself a few weeks ago but hadn't made anything yet until last weekend when one of my friends made the Buttermilk Biscones (a cross between scones & biscuits). They were amazing! Tasting those tasty biscones inspired to try something from the book too. Highly recommend! 
  • The winner of the Duchess Cookbook giveaway is revealed here. Congratulations to the lucky lady! And thanks to everyone who entered.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

my valentine's day story

Fourteen years ago today, I was feeling hopelessly single and wondering if I'd ever meet my soulmate. Didn't seem likely. I had gone on a bunch of unsuccessful blind dates (online dating hadn't quite yet taken off at that time) and one day I found myself discussing the topic with a close friend. Her mom, who was listening in on our conversation, quickly piped up and told me the reason why I was single is because I talked too much. "Men don't like that," she added.

"Ha," I thought indignantly to myself,  "I'm not changing who I am so I can meet a man."

And I didn't. Because I'm stubborn like that and even back then, I knew my worth. Not too long after, I met Scott. That first night we talked for hours (take that friend's mom!). Goes to show that you just never know what's right around the corner. And that, as corny as it sounds, you should never change who you are. 

Hope you have a wonderful day with the people you love. Scott and I are having an at-home date night and we'll be chowing down on these (can't wait!).  xoxo

P.S. Six ways to keep the sparks flying in your relationship.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

how to keep the sparks flying in your relationship



Scott and I have been together for 13 years, 8 months and 16 days. After spending that much time as a couple, we've reached a level of intimacy I never knew existed. While there is something to be said about being completely comfortable and intimate with each other, it's also important to be reminded of the butterflies we had when we first started dating. The bonus is that butterflies usually lead to flirtation and sexy-time. And who doesn't want sexy-time?!


Here are a few things we do to keep the sparks flying in our relationship:

  • Meet separately at the restaurant. I always get excited when I meet up with Scott at a restaurant or bar. I love that moment of anticipation as I scan the room to find him! There's nothing quite like seeing a handsome man and then realizing it's your handsome man to stir up the butterflies. That is such a lovely feeling and it makes me feel fun and flirty. Meeting separately also gives me the chance to see him not just as the person I share my home life with, but as the person he exists beyond that. 
  • Keep phones off the table during meals. I've been known to take photos of our food, but I've started to do less of that (you might've noticed this if you follow me on Instagram). The time I spend with the people I love has become much more valuable. 
  • Hold hands at the table (but really, hold hands every chance you get). Scott and I do this all the time, whether we're on a fancier dinner date or just having some pho at our fave Vietnamese place. So simple but it sets a special mood.
  • 5 minute make-out sessions. One of us just asks "Wanna make out for 5 minutes?" and it's nearly impossible to turn down or be turned down. Everyone has five minutes for a little old school making out, right? Sneaking in a kiss each day that lasts longer than 5 seconds takes me back to the early dating days. Sometimes while we're watching tv, I'll plank on Scott. Sounds bizarro, I know but it's our special thing. And no, it's not sexual, dirty birds. I'm always fully clothed while planking (;
  • Ask each other out on dates, don't just plan dates. I'll text or call Scott and ask if he'll go on a date with me and then plan accordingly and vice versa. Again, it adds just enough of those same butterflies.
  • Scott purchased this book for us recently. Whoa, spicy. I'm thinking an entirely separate blog post might be in order here (;
These are all little things, but sometimes life is about the little things, right? What funny little things (or big things!) do you do to keep the sparks flying in your relationships? I'd love to hear...

(Photo by Harry Benson)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

duchess cookbook & treats giveaway!

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Duchess Bake Shop has had my heart since it opened its doors in the fall of 2009. It's one of my favourite spots in Edmonton to grab a delicious French pastry and then sit, eat & chat with friends for hours. If you follow me on Instagram you'll know that last statement couldn't be more true.

When I found out Giselle Courteau, the shop's co-owner, was writing a cookbook I was elated. Its release date, November 12, was a happy day for me and I wasn't disappointed in the least bit. The book is a true keepsake with stunning photographs and invaluable accompanying step-by-step instructions. This is the first time I've owned a cookbook in which I've sampled most of the recipes (which makes owning it that much more special).

You can probably tell from the picture above that I've already tried many of the recipes (& also have a hard time keeping cookbooks clean, mine are almost always covered in batter & flour), including our family faves: double ginger cookies and raspberry white chocolate scones.

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I'm happy to report that Giselle has generously provided a signed copy of Duchess' cookbook as a giveaway for one lucky reader. Also included in the giveaway: a package containing the shop's beloved salted caramel sauce (which I used to make these), hot chocolate, raspberry rose jam and a Theo gingerbread milk chocolate bar.

For a chance to win, please visit Duchess' website and then leave a comment below with the name of the baked good you'd like to try making at home. For additional entries, follow all kinds of lovely on Instagram and Facebook and comment on the giveaway post/picture. 

Entries must be posted by Friday, February 13 at 9am MST*, and one winner will be chosen at random.

Best of luck!

You can also purchase the cookbook in Edmonton at Provisions or online. Highly recommend!

Contest is now closed. Congratulations to Brie of A Slice of Brie! Thank you to everyone who entered.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

style: chic earrings

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  il_fullxfull.301791481 By Boe Gold

Gorgeous earrings can change your whole look in a instant. I know my winter wardrobe could use a perk up right about now (anyone else over winter?). These four pairs are at the top of my wish list.

Clockwise from top left:

  • Edgy & wear-with-everything studs from my favourite Canadian shop, So Pretty Jewelry.  
  • This exotic pair from Club Monaco has been on my mind for a while now. Beautiful, right?
  • Feminine & sweet reminder bows handmade by New York based By Boe
  • Etsy shop Dinosaur Toes makes these simple modern hammered hoops. Such a great price, too. 

Wouldn't they all be beautiful to wear to date night? Or anytime really. (: Which pair is your fave?

I just purchased these art deco chandeliers which can be worn three (!!) ways. Love. They were a "I survived the January blahs" present to myself. The So Pretty studs are next on my list.

Hope your week is off to a good start! Be sure to check back here on Thursday. I have a delicious giveaway I'm excited to share with you featuring a beloved bakery of mine.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

how to relax & fall asleep quickly


Getting my brain to turn off at bedtime can be difficult. Especially when I have a gazillion things on my mind. During the day, I feel pretty happy-go-lucky, but as I lie down at night, my mind starts spinning. Lately the tossing and turning topics include trying to have a baby (we have a BIG doctor's appointment coming up on Monday) and the logistics of a full kitchen renovation. Exciting and good things yes, but also anxiety inducing, as is my wont.

So when I recently came across this breathing technique I immediately decided to give it a try.

Here's how it works:

Step 1: Breath in silently through your nose for a count of 4.
Step 2: Hold your breath to the count of 7.
Step 3: Exhale through your mouth while making a whooshing sound to the count of 8.
Step 4: Now inhale again and repeat the cycle another three times or until you fall asleep.

I've been doing it for the past week and it honestly works! Admittedly, I felt like I was going to die the first few times I held my breath, but I got the hang of it quickly. And it's gotten easier with each passing night. Now I'm usually asleep after three rounds of 4-7-8.  Blessedly sweet sleep. It's become my go-to method to "close some tabs" when my thoughts get a little all over the place.

Are you a good sleeper? Any tips? Or are you a worrier, too? When it comes to worrying, we can really nail it sometimes (:

P.S. This brilliant website puts a single day of your life in perspective.

Print via. It's funny 'cause it's true.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

bye bye 2014. hello 2015!


Happy New Year friends! I hope you had a great holiday and celebrated the end of 2014 in a way that made you feel ready to embrace the new year ahead. I had a few too many blood orange-rosemary fizz cocktails last night. Will definitely be sharing that recipe with you! 

When it comes to 2014, I don't really know where to start. It was a challenging year with some rough spots and changes, yet it had many beautiful moments too. Highlights included this magical experience in the mountainsour 11th wedding anniversarytrip to Bosnia/Croatia, the wedding of one of my nearest & dearest, my first blogging conference in Toronto and of course, any time spent with these two. I also ate, cooked and baked a ton of delicious things.  

Over the past twelve months, I've also grown considerably. I've learned the breadth of my resilience, figured out how best to deal with my anxiety, regained my professional confidence and discovered who I can count on during tough times. I'm beyond grateful to have a wonderful husband, family and a great group of friends surrounding me with love, laughter, encouragement and support. I needed them this year especially.

And I'm grateful for you too! Thank you for sticking with me and my spotty posting. I'm flattered to have you along for the journey and am appreciative of every comment, tweet, email or share. It means a lot to me that you find your way here, especially with all the awesomeness available on the internet these days. 

Things to look forward to in 2015: turning 40 in March (holy shit!), trying to start a family (holy shit x a million! Can you tell I'm scared? But so excited if it does happen!), a kitchen/bathroom renovation, and travelling more. And just generally investing more time and energy in the people that matter and more money in experiences rather than things. That all sounds doable, right?

Cheers to a wonderful year in store, full of unexpected surprises and delights! And thanks again for reading the blog. If I could hug you through the internet, I would. xoxo

P.S. Come back soon, will ya. I'm hosting my first giveaway of twenty fifteen soon (: 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

eat: maple rosemary spiced pretzel & nut mix


This sweet and spicy mix is ridiculously easy to make, extremely addictive and suitable for special occasion and raucous get-togethers. Cards Against Humanity, anyone?

Adding maple syrup and fresh rosemary elevates humble nuts and pretzels into something extra special and delicious. It's munchery at its best and a great hostess gift to bring to holiday parties. My friends, family and neighbours are all getting a bag of this good stuff because who doesn't love an edible gift?

Maple Rosemary Spiced Pretzel and Nut Mix
Makes about 4 cups (300 gr)
Adapted from David Lebovitz' The Sweet Life in Paris

Here's what you need to make them:
2 cups (200 gr) mixed raw nuts; any combo of cashews, whole almonds, peanuts, pecan halves, pistachios and hazelnuts.
1 tablespoon (15 gr) unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons (45 gr) dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons (45 gr) roughly chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to your spice level)
3/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
2 cups (100 gr) small pretzel twists

Line a large cookie sheet with foil or parchment. Spread the nuts in an even layer and roast in a 350F (180C) oven for 10 minutes, stirring once for even toasting.

In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and maple syrup.

Add the warm nuts, stirring until coated. Then mix in the salt (if using, please see note below), pretzels and rosemary, and stir until the nuts and pretzels are completely coated.

Spread the mixture back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 12-18 minutes, stirring twice during cooking. Your house is going to smell amazing. Watch them carefully to make sure they don't burn. Remove from oven and cool completely, separating the nuts and pretzels as they cool.

Once cool, this mixture can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

Happy munching!

  • Notes:
  • I used Kirkland mixed nuts from Costco. They are already toasted, so I just warmed them up in the oven for about 5 minutes at 350F and kept a close eye on them. 
  • I melted the butter in a large bowl, so I could do all the mixing in that bowl, making one less thing for me to wash as well. 
  • I omitted the salt because the pretzels were salted. If you decide to add salt, make sure to add it in after the nuts are stirred, so it doesn’t dissolve. And be sure to use coarse salt, which has an appealing, crunchy texture and more delicate flavor than ordinary table salt.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

how to get your significant other to agree to a new sofa


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Hi guys! How've you been? We got a new sofa for our sitting room recently, our old one was starting to show signs of wear (mostly from my sweaty feet). Although it served us well over the past nine years, it was high time for a change. Here's my foolproof strategy in case you need to convince someone in your life that you need a new sofa:

1. Mention your contempt for the old sofa for about two years non-stop. At this point your main squeeze may gently remind you that there's nothing wrong with said sofa and that you once loved it dearly. In response, you let out a melodramatic sigh worthy of an Emmy.

2.  Agree to sell the old sofa, which you affectionately refer to as the brown beast, on kijiji before buying a replacement. But then procrastinate for months on end at which point your partner ends up doing it for you out of pure exasperation.

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3.  Tell your significant other, in an imploring manner, that you'd be willing to give up Starbucks chai lattes for a new sofa even though you both know darn well you don't have that kind of resolve.

4.  Ask to stop at the furniture store on a day that just happens to be your wedding anniversary
just to look around.

And finally,

5. Enjoy a chai latte while lounging (and wearing socks) on your new sofa.
_______________
Sofa: Gus Modern via Inspired Home Interiors
Throw: H&M Home
Rug, side table, lotus candle holder & printed pillow: HomeSense
Coffee table: Structube (similar)
Tray & Mongolian fur pillow: Chapters Indigo
Vase: Anthropologie
Mirrors: Superstore/Loblaws (old)
Brass bowl & lamp: Target
Wood coasters: Justine Ma: Design & Hand Lettering

P.S. Hope you're all doing well! I'll be back with a style post and front door reveal soon (because I can't call myself a blogger if I'm not blogging). Truthfully, I've been spending most of my time on Instagram and Facebook lately. Come and find me, if you haven't already!

Monday, July 28, 2014

we're heading to croatia...






Have you ever been to Croatia? We're hopping on a plane and heading there tomorrow!

We're crazy excited and cannot wait to spend a few weeks relaxing, island hopping and visiting with my extended family (it's been 5 years since we've seen them). I've been itching for this kind of vacation — the kind where you kick it all day at the beach, drink wine in the evening, and just straight chill. We may even throw in some meandering down cobblestone streets in search of bits of history or funky shops.

Our plan is to fly into Zagreb, visit my mom's side of the family in Bosnia for a few days and then head down to my birth island of Brac, where my dad's side lives, via the ferry in Split.  
We're going to spend a week on Brac (above) and then decide where else to go - maybe Dubrovnik, Hvar (below) or even Venice. We haven't entirely made up our minds, which is unusual and thrilling because I'm usually such a planner. 

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Our ten-year-old niece Raissa is coming with us for part of the trip and we're also meeting up with my parents, who left for Bosnia last week. Should be fun as we've never travelled on a plane with a kid. Thankfully Rai's pretty awesome and we're looking forward to this bonding time with her (Scott's elated to have another English speaking person around since his Croatian is, um, a tad rusty).
I'll be sharing photos of our vacation on Instagram and Facebook, if you'd like to follow along. 

Have a wonderful three weeks, and see you at the end of August!

P.S. Can't wait to read this book on the plane and finally wear this dress

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