Holiday Gift Guide

I can’t believe Christmas is almost a week away -- 8 days to be exact. For all you last minute shoppers who either haven’t started your Christmas shopping yet, need a few extra ideas or simply want to buy something for yourself, I’ve complied a list of lust-worthy items, with price ranges no higher than $150 so there is something for every budget.  


Vegan Peppermint Patties

Holiday season is upon us and that means an abundance of indulgent foods and treats. But as I'm leaving for a trip really soon (going to Hong Kong and Australia), I’ve been trying to lay low on the indulgent part (that is being saved for obvious and necessary vacation eating). I was tempted to make peppermint patties but couldn't decide on a healthy version I liked best. So when I saw that Oh She Glows (one of my favourite food blogs) had made her own vegan version, I knew this was the winner.

Crunchy on the outside, smooth and creamy on the inside, these peppermint patties are melt-in-your-mouth divine. They have a nice peppermint flavour without being overpowering and the filling is so luxurious. I didn’t have agave on hand so I subbed in coconut nectar instead. Side note: if you haven’t tried coconut nectar, you must. It has a rich, deep flavour and is healthier than agave. However, because of the coconut nectar, my filling turned out a beige colour rather than the usual white insides of traditional peppermint patties. Although not as pretty, the taste certainly made up for it. 


Fall Trend: Oversized Coats

Oversized coats are another big (pun intended) trend this season. Masculine and dramatically large, these coats have dropped shoulders, roomy sleeves and are generally looser throughout. I’m usually all about fitted coats, but there’s something about the roominess of oversized ones that seem extra cozy and comfy. They can be unconventionally chic when worn properly (especially when open and undone) and as long as they aren't too oversized. You don't want to look like your coat is swallowing you whole. Bare your legs or pair it with skinny pants and heels to balance out the look.


Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Ever since fall has arrived, I've been wanting to make pumpkin mac & cheese and I finally got around to it this past weekend. Of course I wanted a healthier version of this classic pasta dish and the result was a rich and decadent meal without feeling too heavy. The pumpkin made the cheese sauce so creamy and luxurious -- comfort food at its best. For the pasta, I opted for penne instead of macaroni and used panko breadcrumbs for a crunchier topping. This is the perfect bowl of cheesy goodness that will satisfy any carb craving on a chilly fall night.


Modern Man Fashion Week - Christopher Bates SS14

Modern Man Fashion Week continued with Christopher Bates’ “Best of” Spring/Summer ‘14 Collection, featuring the menswear designer's favourite looks. It was his second unveiling of the collection in Toronto; the first shown during World MasterCard Fashion Week a few weeks back. I loved everything about this French Rivieria inspired collection -- very fresh, sophisticated and classic Euro chic. I especially liked the lipstick kiss on some of the collars, which has become Christopher Bates' signature stamp. The collection was reminiscent of a simple but elegant nautical lifestyle and the tailoring was spot-on. It was a fantastic show that successfully concluded the first day of Modern Man Fashion Week.


Modern Man Fashion Week - Le Chateau

Toronto kicked off the premiere of Men’s Fashion Week on Monday, dedicated solely to men’s fashion. Held at Uniun nightclub, Modern ManFashion Week was the first to profile some of the leading men designers' latest collections on the runway. Before the show started, a grooming station was set up where men could get their hair cut, styled, or opt for a shave. Judging by some of the models who were getting their last minute groom on, I was excited to see what the show would bring -- who doesn't love to watch male models strut their stuff?

Le Chateau Menswear opened the show with a stylish collection featuring cozy knits, fur-collared coats, fitted blazers, and dapper suits. The men's fashion at Le Chateau is evolving to a more mature style, and this was clearly evident in their collection. It was a great show overall filled with both causal and dressy looks. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post on Christopher Bates' Spring/Summer Collection.


Hermes Exhibition: Festival des Metiers

Hermes brought its artistic exhibition, Festival des Metiers (Festival of Crafts) to Toronto and I attended its opening the other evening. Held at the Design Exchange, the exhibit provides an insightful look at what goes on behind the scenes in making the renowned Hermes goods. I got to see firsthand the amazing precision, detail and work of the craftsmanship that has defined Hermes as having an unprecedented level of quality in their products.

Festival des Metiers is an ongoing exhibit that travels around the world and features various artisans from France, each with their own intimate workstations where they demonstrate and explain how particular products are made. Seeing them work their magic was astounding to say the least. Everything is made by hand using traditional techniques and methods that have been used for years. I love how committed they are to their craft and their passion is evident.

Artisans include a leather maker constructing the iconic Kelly bag, a saddler, glove maker, tie maker, silk printer, watchmaker, porcelain painter, and gem setter. One of the best parts of the exhibit is that you can engage with and talk directly to the craftspeople (so you can find out all their little secrets of course). Here are some things I learned:
  •  Crocodile bags are made inside out.
  • The saddle was Hermes’ first craft. It takes about 25 hours to make one.
  • There are around 60 glove makers, each with a specific job. A hydraulic press is used to cut the gloves, then it is stitched, and a silk or cashmere lining is put inside. A specialized iron is then used to smooth the leather.
  • Silk printers dye their colours from darkest to lightest, smallest to biggest motifs. It takes approximately two years to produce one scarf, from the initial design stage to the finished product. To penetrate the colour, a dry steam is used to set the dye, and then the scarf is washed to take out the gum.
  • All watches are Swiss made, and the leather is imported from Paris.
  • They make the most adorable mini sample designs that look like baby clothes. I wonder if I could squeeze into one of them.

The exhibit is FREE and is open until this Sunday, October 6, 2013 from 11am-7pm. Be sure to check it out before it’s too late! 


Homemade Pumpkin Butter

As of yesterday, fall is officially upon us. And that means cooking and baking with my favourite fall ingredient: pumpkin. As soon as I saw this recipe for homemade pumpkin butter, I knew it’d be the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of the fall season. Thick, creamy and full of delicious pumpkin flavour, this pumpkin butter is nothing short of amazing. It is so deliriously good that I could eat this by the spoonful (which I did). It’s also delicious slathered on toast, on top of pancakes, as a dip for apple slices, and swirled into yogurt. Expect to see lots of pumpkin related recipes as the season progresses.


Fall Trend: Fashion Sweatshirts

When I think of sweatshirts, stylish certainly isn’t the first thing that comes to my mind. This fall, however, that’s all about to change as fashion sweatshirts are majorly trending. I was a bit weary of the trend at first; however, after perusing online I discovered many luxe sweatshirts that I adore. Sweatshirts are no longer frumpy and causal; they’re glammed up with embellishments like sequins and jewels, leather and quilted textures, and colourful prints and patterns. I love that you get the comfort and looseness from a sweatshirt, while being chic and modern. It’s also extremely versatile as you can wear it with pretty much anything. For a causal look, pair it with jeans or pants, or dress it up with a flouncy or pencil skirt.


London Love

Can't go to London without having some fish and chips

I’ve been documenting my London trip for the past little while and looking back through my many photos, it puts a smile on my face and makes me reminisce the adventures I had there. Although it is long over and went by way too quickly, it has created memories that I will never forget. Here are some of my favourite random photos from my trip.

I think everyone could benefit from having a mad hatters chair in their place

Beautiful view of Westminster Abbey

Gorgeous flowers in the College Gardens of Westminster Abbey

On my way to Hogwarts (I'm a Harry Potter nerd)
Amazing blueberry mojitos that I need to learn how to recreate 

Love the buildings there, especially when set behind a bed of flowers
Laduree macarons from Paris
The closest I'll probably ever get to David Beckham