Get Your Kitchen Christmas-Ready With These 7 Festive Pieces!

Get Your Kitchen Christmas-Ready With These 7 Festive Pieces!

Christmas Kitchen Ideas
Christmas Pieces For Your Kitchen Island

(This post is sponsored by Kitchen Stuff Plus. You can read the original post that first appeared on November 21, 2018, directly on their website, here; all opinions are my own)

It’s time to get ready for Christmas and the best place to start is in the kitchen, the central meeting place of our home!

My kids and husband love all of the décor and enjoy every piece I put out. How fun is it to eat off of Christmas plates and to be surrounded by the colours and scenes of the season for a few weeks a year?

I recently picked up these 7 festive plates and tableware items at Kitchen Stuff Plus and they instantly put my family and kitchen into the holiday spirit.

1) Placemats and a Table Runner

After using mainly plain red placemats, I changed things up this year by going with printed placemats. I chose the Festive Tree pattern because I liked the different coloured trees on the beige background and because they go with the mini-tree decorations I have around the house.

Christmas Table Runner and Placemats
Christmas Table Runner and Placemats

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Create The Perfect Floral Centerpiece In 7 Easy Steps!

William Ashley Secret Garden Floral Affair Event by Iittala and Alice's Table
William Ashley Secret Garden Floral Affair Event by Iittala and Alice’s Table

I’ve always wanted to learn how to make a beautiful floral arrangement and, this weekend, my wish came true!

As a blogger, I get invited to events throughout the year, but I knew that the William Ashley Exclusive Floral Event would be special. For one, the setting was the new William Ashley customer experience showroom on Toronto’s Mink Mile. With high ceilings, plenty of natural light, and a tea lounge, the new space was perfect for the Secret Garden affair.

The second reason this event was special is that it was hosted by Alice Rossiter Lewis. Alice is the founder of Alice’s Table, a Boston-based business that provides starter kits and support to ‘executives’ who in turn run their own floral parties. Earlier this year, she appeared on Shark Tank and left with investments from both Mark Cuban and Sara Blakely. Alice’s energy is contagious, the pace is perfect, and the end result is a gorgeous and fragrant centerpiece.

Alice Rossiter Lewis of Alice's Table
Alice Rossiter Lewis of Alice’s Table

On Saturday afternoon, I rode the escalator to the second floor of William Ashley’s Bloor Street location and walked past the soft teal chairs in the bright and cozy customer lounge. At the long coffee bar, I enjoyed my English Breakfast Tea in Herend’s Royal Garden teacups (the same pattern gifted to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) and admired the long table that was set up for our event. What an inspiring spot, amidst crystal vases and tableware, for an afternoon of floral arranging.

At each blogger’s place stood a 6 inch Kastehelmi vase made by Iittala, the Finnish design house. The Kastehelmi collection is distinguished by raised droplets, named after the Finnish word for ‘dewdrop’. Oiva Toikka, the designer, cleverly added these droplets to hide joint marks and lines. We put on our aprons and got ready to fill our beautiful vases.

As Alice took us through the steps of building our own bouquets, we chatted about each other’s social media accounts and our love for creating content. Bloggers being bloggers, we had our cameras out, taking lots of photos and videos. It’s what we do, and documenting our every move feels most comfortable among fellow bloggers!

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10 Simple & Easy Kitchen Tricks From Henckels Knives

 

Tomato Bruschetta

Last week I had an amazing day with the Henckels & Staub product knowledge team, at the beautiful Miele Experience Center in Vaughan.

At the Henckels' Knives Event at the Miele Experience Centre, Vaughan, Ontario
At the Henckels’ Knives Event at the Miele Experience Centre, Vaughan, Ontario

Along with the Kitchen Stuff Plus team, we saw close-up product demonstrations by 5 chefs and a sales manager — all while preparing our own delicious lunch!

My favorite part was learning some food prep secrets from the chefs while trying out the different knives and cookware. I was on the team that made Tomato Bruschetta and Grilled Ratatouille Crostini and I very quickly realized that having the right knife, sharpened, could easily save me about 20 minutes a meal!

Tomato Bruschetta
Tomato Bruschetta

Here are some of the insider tips and tricks that I learned:

Pro Tip #1
The three most useful knives in any kitchen are a paring knife, a chef’s knife (can be a 6, 10, or 12 inch blade), and a bread knife. Continue reading

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Here’s Why (I Think) I’m Going To Be Okay On University Drop-Off Day

Here’s Why (I Think) I’m Going To Be Okay On University Drop Off Day

Our oldest is going off to university the first week of September, and, admittedly, I’ve been a bit of a hot mess over here. I’m not ready for my daughter to leave the nest. Some days are good, others are not so good. My heart is sad and heavy, but my thinking is more along the lines of ‘it’s going to be okay’. Over the years, I’ve heard many parents talk about their experience, listening intently because I knew my turn would come. It has.

I spent the last months of my daughter’s senior year thinking about missed opportunities of being together, yet also understanding that a teen’s school and social life can take precedence. Sometimes I felt guilty about how I could’ve parented her differently as a kid. And, sometimes I just cried a lot.

When we first found out we would be parents, my husband said it best: ‘we’re going to have a visitor for 18 years!’ I was impressed with how insightful he was about raising kids and then letting them go. I’m a bit slower about accepting and understanding my role, but time has been the perfect teacher.

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7 School And Work Lunches Approved By My Daughter And Husband

7 lunch ideas for Back to School
7 lunch ideas for Back to School

(This post first appeared on the Kitchen Stuff Plus website, on August 7, 2018. You can read that post here and follow the hyperlinks there to learn more about the highlighted products.)

After meal planning and making lunches for many years, my family and I have decided to shake things up for our upcoming back to school and work routines: we’re eating more fruits and vegetables and trying out different food combinations and ingredients.

Recently, I sat down with my high school daughter, who prepares and takes lunch every day, and my husband, who brings lunch to work a few times a month, to discuss new and fun ideas.

My daughter tested these lunches when she was at her summer day camp job and my husband enjoyed the leftovers from the photo shoot – yup, all the meals got a thumbs up!

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What I’m Sending To University With My Daughter This Fall

 

Getting ready for back to school with Kitchen Stuff Plus
Getting ready for back to school with Kitchen Stuff Plus

(This post first appeared on the Kitchen Stuff Plus website, on August 1, 2018. You can read that post here and follow the hyperlinks to learn more about the highlighted products.)

Although it’s going to be very hard to say goodbye to my oldest daughter when she goes off to university in September, it makes me feel better knowing she’ll have what she needs to make her dorm room feel a bit like home.

When we looked at the Kitchen Stuff Plus website, there were many room décor and snack accessories to choose from! We chose items that are reusable and environmentally friendly, conducive to healthy eating, and durable – so she can still use them when she eventually moves off campus.

Clothing & Shoes Storage

Non-slip hangers and underbed storage containers
Non-slip hangers and underbed storage containers

These velvet-covered hangers ensure clothes stay put without sliding to the bottom of the closet. Because they’re all the same, the closet will look more organized and aesthetically pleasing.

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Tahini Freezer Fudge

No Bake Salted Tahini Cookie Dough Fudge
No Bake Salted Tahini Cookie Dough Fudge from Ambitious Kitchen

Have you ever tried freezer fudge? It’s easy, quick, and no-bake — and, it’s my new favorite fudge.

I’ve always loved fudge: the texture, the bite-sized pieces, and the sweetness. And, I’ve made lots of fudge using condensed milk and chocolate, or using cream and butter and icing sugar. But, this freezer fudge, made with coconut oil, is just so simple and fast to make that I had to share it with you.

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How Colorful Tableware Changes Your Outdoor Dining Experience

 

Simple Steak Dinner on Tableware from Kitchen Stuff Plus
Simple Steak Dinner on Tableware from Kitchen Stuff Plus

(This post first appeared on the Kitchen Stuff Plus blog, on July 19, 2018)

It’s amazing how a set of outdoor tableware can change how one feels about eating outdoors. I recently won a flatlay contest sponsored by Collective Influence, a blogger/influencer association, of which I’m a member, and Kitchen Stuff Plus, one of southwestern Ontario’s leading kitchen and homewares stores. The prize was this beautiful tableware set for eight that my family and friends loved using this past weekend.

Outdoor Tableware from Kitchen Stuff Plus
Outdoor Tableware from Kitchen Stuff Plus

The tableware is called the Madrid and it’s part of the Blue Sky collection. It’s made out of BPA-free melamine that won’t mark when you use a steak knife on it like we did this weekend! It’s light-weight, dishwasher safe, and the perfect size for a bbq meal or just lounging around at home or in nature. The dinner dishes are the same size as indoor plates but the side dishes and bowls are slightly larger. These larger side dishes and bowls can be used as extra dishes when you have more guests. Continue reading

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Roasted Corn Black Bean Salad That’s Perfect For Summer BBQs

Roasted Corn Black Bean Salad
Roasted Corn Black Bean Salad

Sometimes I come across a recipe that I keep making over and over, like this Roasted Corn Black Bean Salad from Rose Reisman. I’m sharing it because I make it a lot in the summertime!

I saw this recipe in our local paper years ago and thought I would try it because it sounded perfect as an accompaniment to barbecued meals. It’s made with mangoes, black beans. sweet peppers, corn and coriander – all some of my favorite ingredients. The coriander is part of the dressing and the more you use, the better the salad tastes. If you have an herb garden and grow coriander, then you’ll love this salad because you likely already have this herb on hand.

Roasted Corn Black Bean Salad
Roasted Corn Black Bean Salad

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Cookie Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cups – And, They’re No-Bake!

 

Cookie Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cups Made With Penotti Cookie Notti
Cookie Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cups Made With Penotti Cookie Notti

I love to bake, a lot, and recently I’ve been experimenting with cookie butter. I discovered cookie butter about a year ago and I’ve been busy developing new ways to bake with it.

Cookie butter is a spread that’s been popular in Europe for many years and is now available and gaining popularity in North America. Made primarily from speculoos cookies, cookie butter looks like and has a similar consistency to peanut butter.

When I did some reading on the origins of cookie butter and speculoos cookies in particular, I realized that I practically grew up on these cookies! Speculoos, or speculaas, cookies are a Belgian spiced shortbread cookie that are popular year round in Europe. You’ve probably seen them in old-fashioned type tins around the holidays and you may have seen them in the cookie section of your grocery store. Speculoos cookies are brown in color, crunchy, and often have a caramel flavor in addition to hints of cinnamon. In Europe and the Middle East, these cookies are served as tea biscuits and used for baking – they’re consumed and enjoyed all year round.

Speculoos Cookies
Speculoos Cookies

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