Christmastime

I love Christmas every year that it rolls around, but there’s one particular Christmas that stands out from the rest.

 

Back in 2005 (hard to believe that’s over ten years ago), my family and I celebrated Christmas and New Years in Greece. It was a chance to spend some time with all of our relatives there, and also to see Greece at a very different time of year. When you hear of Greece, most people think of islands, or beaches, world famous sunsets, or ancient ruins. Souvlaki may also come to mind. But life is different during the winter months. At least, it felt that way to me after only having seen it in the summer months when the aforementioned are most prevalent.

It was like we were part of the country’s regular programming; where citizens were out and about getting ready for Christmas, rushing from one gathering or party to the next. The traditions we preserve and practice here at home were visible and alive everywhere, surrounding us like the richest chocolate around a hazelnut. The most memorable and meaningful part was that we got to experience Christmas the way my dad did growing up as a kid.  It was, without sounding childish or cliche, magical.

In amongst all of these lovely, festive moments, there were also some eye-opening parts of the trip. Like the fact that homes aren’t heated in the same way during the winter like our Canadian homes are. Let’s just say that when the firewood has been used up and it’s the middle of the night, you layer with every sweater and blanket in site! Or when we were driving up a narrow, village road that was covered in ice, we had to accept the fact that our little rental car couldn’t hack it (it seriously couldn’t; we spun out multiple times, and even lost control as we headed towards the roadside…with no guardrail!) But, my uncle’s old, Toyota pick-up truck could! Strap some chains around the tires and away you go, is how it’s done over there.

It was a trip to remember, in spite of the differences. The true gift in all of this was experiencing something so rich, and so cool with my parents and sisters, and with relatives that are so far away. Now that I have a family of my own, I can’t wait to experience something like this and create our own version of this in the future.

greece-december-16-2005-to-january-7-2006-013

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a holiday season full of love, laughter and lots of restful family time. See you in 2017!

xo! Kassey

//Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences \\

Four Words

Salted. Caramel. Chocolate. Cake.

Back in July, we celebrated Alex’s birthday with this delicious cake.

 

I started this post shortly after making it in an effort to share it with all of you ASAP, but it has remained in my drafts until now. Oops! In any case, the end of September has me thinking back to our summer happenings, wondering how on earth it all went by so fast?! Without further ado, read on to feast your eyes on our new family favourite.

Thea has proven her interest in all things baking and cooking time and time again, and she makes the cutest little sous chef. Every time I’m working on something, she pulls up a chair right next to me and asks to help. To which I excitedly respond, “OK!!!!!”. So we donned our aprons and got to work following this recipe . We followed it as is, with the exception of the garnish on top of the cake at the very end. I had Chipits Skor Toffee Bits on hand and decided to go with those instead of the flaky sea salt. No regrets there.

 

 

Now, I need to tell you guys about a secret little ingredient. One that I’m definitely going to buy again because it’s so decadent, whether you’re adding it into a cake or drizzling it on top of ice cream. This Salted Caramel by local dynasty, Duchess Provisions, is the ultimate jar of heaven that ever lived in your pantry (next to Nutella, of course). It truly added to the richness of the frosting and the layers in between the cakes. Yes, you read that right – cakes. Three layers, in fact!

 

We are a family of four, but technically only three of us eat food that requires chewing, so there were definitely leftovers. Leftovers for days (which was just fine by me)! This birthday celebration was as delicious as it was cute, and I think we’re all waiting for an excuse to indulge in this cake again. Good thing Thanksgiving is coming up…

 

Back to how there are only a few days left in September – anyone else feel like this month serves as motivation to do new things? My to-do list is long, and sitting nicely at the top are things like checking out the brand new Rogers Place arena, brunching at Cafe Linnea, and take in as much of this beautiful fall weather and crunchy, golden leaves as we can. How about you?

Happy almost weekend!

 

//Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences \\

Mother’s Day

Motherhood has been, and continues to be, the most beautiful and incredible ride. It’s fun, it’s fulfilling, it’s feeling and expressing a love you didn’t quite know existed, and it requires you to develop a thick skin pretty quickly in order to roll with the learning curves along the way. This Mother’s Day, my wishlist consists of things that are totally basic and simple, but are tied to the experiences I enjoy and look forward to having more of with my little family. Below is a round up of every day things, but things that take on new meaning once you become a mom.

Clockwise L to R: Oversized vegan weekender, Explore Alberta HoodieNike Juvenate, Signature home scent, Sugared & Spiced cake, Mug, Love Fresh lotion

Photo credits: Sole Society, Ole Originals, Nike, Anthropologie, Sugared & Spiced, Jillian Schecher, Love Fresh

Packing up and running off with my family for a few days is what my dreams are made of, especially as life gets busier and we get caught in the day-to-day of things. Everything I would need for a mountain getaway, tossed into this beautiful weekender bag, and off we go!

A mountain getaway needs this Explore Alberta hoodie. It’s casual and cute and just what I need to run around with my girls (also makes me feel Alberta proud)

As the girls get older and more active, I look forward to keeping pace right there with them. Why not do it in a pair of cute kicks?!

I love a signature scent for my family to associate with a warm and cozy home. This Capri Blue candle from Anthropologie is perfection.

The sweet tooth runs strong in this family. And just look at this cake…need I say more?!

Coffee is a necessary treat that I look forward to each day, and I absolutely love this mug that my dear friend, Justine Ma, designed with another sweet and talented gal, Miss Chrissy Charms.

By the end of each day, my hands are in need of some beautifully scented TLC, and this Lavender lotion from Love Fresh is just what my skin needs and loves.

Wishing a very happy Mother’s Day weekend to all of the moms and moms-to-be, and especially to my favourite – my own mom ❤

xo

//Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences \\

2016 So Far

A couple of weeks into the new year, and I’m just now getting around to this post! I hope the holidays were full of family and good food, and that you’re all feeling recharged, rejuvenated, and ready to take on another great year.

I am still one week away from my due date, so anxious and excited would be the biggest understatements to describe how we’re feeling about the impending arrival of our fourth family member! I, especially, am feeling beyond ready to welcome this little bundle of a girl into our lives, because if I’m being honest – pregnant and toddler wrangling on the daily is plain … hard. I just continue to remind myself that I physically can’t be pregnant forever, and before long, we will all be getting acquainted and getting to know the latest and cutest addition to our family.

With so much excitement (and adjustment, no doubt) awaiting us in 2016, I am looking forward to taking it all in in somewhat of a scaled back way. I will probably be a little quieter on this space for the next couple of months, for no reason other than to just focus on us as a new family of four. Stick with me, though, as I will remain active on Instagram and Twitter. and of course try my best to get back on here with updates and photos when I can. I’m also looking forward to sharing some of the plans I’ve been working on for the work side of my life. But you’ll have to wait until spring/summer for that one 🙂

Here are a few photos from the last little while. Enjoy, and hope you’re having a great week!

 

We celebrated Thea turning two with a Minnie Mouse themed day!

|| Cake by Jacqueline at Cake Affair & topper designed by Justine Ma ||

This cookie decorating station was a hit, and super simple to whip up.

She was really into decorating this year, and surprisingly wasn’t too interested in dismantling any of the tree after the fact – thank goodness!

On Christmas Eve, we decided to head down to the Legislature Grounds, and we’re so glad we did. You can’t really tell from these photos, but it was an exceptionally cold evening. It was a short-lived visit, but the beauty sure made up for it!

Our last Christmas as a family of three! Something tells me that the exact picture of this time next year is going to look a whole lot different!!

xo,

Kassey

// Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences \\

#yeg Spotlight: HUNT AMOR

Do you ever think about the days when it was common to visit the tailor or seamstress for a bespoke garment? Or to the well-known shoemaker who could fix anything and everything, and also whip up a pair of custom made shoes? There’s also the jewelry maker, who will sit and listen to the intricate and personal details and create an individualized piece of jewelry that will adorn your body and tell a story for years to come. Blame it on the nostalgia in me, or the fact that, deep inside, I have actually been an 80 year old since I was about five, but I find myself wishing for these things to be commonplace again.

Thanks to Edmonton being awesome and hugely supportive of grassroots and entrepreneurial initiatives, there are a couple of local businesses that are making new again what was once considered old. Slated for a #yeg Spotlight on here in the not-too-distant future, Poppy Barley is taking Canada and the world by storm with their made-to-measure footwear; Todoruk Design is elegantly bringing back couture, bespoke and the atelier; and then there’s HUNT AMOR, a local jewelry designer who is showcasing their talents through four different lines: custom, utility, fashion, and the newly released Kindred collections.

A few HUNT AMOR originals that I have my eye on

Clockwise: Hex Cuff, Kindred Vera, Baby V Drop Earrings

A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of attending the most ultimate and cool party which celebrated the release of the new Kindred collection. I will let the photos below do the talking, but everything about the night was perfectly suited to the brand that Amor Carandang and Chris Provins have created: the venue (Tomnuk Design Studio) the music, and the crowd. It’s so evident these two have garnered a lot of well-deserved love and support through their hard, dedicated work and genuine, down-to-earth personalities.

// Party photos are all captured by Jody Bailey \\

I’m keeping an eye on what Amor & Chris release next, because without a doubt, I will love it and I will shop it!

Happy mid-week! xo,

Kassey
// Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences \\

Modern Crafting with Made Social Co.

A few weeks ago, a pretty little confetti-laden invitation popped into my Inbox, and it was to the launch of Made Social, a modern take on a crafting night out. I was so excited about this, because behind it all are two friends of mine, Andrea and Christine, who are two supremely talented and creative ladies.

These are not your typical how-to kinds of workshops. Think of it more like a beautifully styled night out where you also get to snack, laugh and craft the night away. Have you ever found yourself wanting to gather a group of girls to go out and do something more than grab coffee? Made Social is the perfect answer! Christine and Andrea work to make each workshop equal parts charming and social with no detail overlooked. And, at the end of it all, you walk away with a specially hand-made piece.

This inaugural evening involved making a yarn wall hanging, which you’ll see in some of the pictures below. Now, I don’t consider myself the craftiest of people, but these were simple to make and the outcome is something I love even more. So much so that I actually have the perfect spot in mind to hang it in the new nursery!

I love connecting, and the best part of an evening like this, for me, is the chance to meet fellow bloggers and reconnect with those I’ve had the opportunity to meet since starting this little blog of my own. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this city is FULL of creative and ambitious individuals who are all working on really cool things. To meet and connect with people like this is always really fun and inspiring. Not to mention the wow-factor of the individuals and locally-owned businesses that played a part in making this night happen – our space for the night (the amazing Project Loft), the always stunning floral decor by Fabloomosity, and so many more (all linked at the end of the post) all contributed to making the night feel really special and exclusive.

I saved the best part for last because no party is really complete without a photo booth. And you guys, this one involved confetti!!! Captured below is more of the fun throughout the night, including a group shot of everyone who participated in the launch.

Top row L to R: me, Diana of 204 Park, Jenna of Plum Home & Design, Erinn of Shop the Skinny, Stephanie of All About Ami, Justine of Justine Ma Design. Bottom row L to R: Kelsy of Twirls & Travels, Holly of In the Fun Lane, Amanda of Natural Mommie, Andrea of Andrea Hanki Photography, Christine of Just Bella Blog, Jenna of Hobbs Photography, and Linda of Linda Hoang

I always know it’s a good night when I set out with intentions of taking a bunch of photos, only to come away with one or two decent-quality pictures on my phone because I was too busy chatting. This night was no exception, and I wanted to send a HUGE thanks to Andrea for documenting the evening through these photos you see here, and providing them to us to share with you 🙂

Made Social will be holding their next modern craft workshop on October 24, and registration opens tonight! Stay tuned on Instagram for more details on how to get in on the fun because, trust me, you don’t want to miss out!

Thanks again, Christine and Andrea, for including me in the launch of your exciting new endeavor! Can’t wait to attend the next one!

Happy crafting, and have a great week…xo!

All photos courtesy of Andrea Hanki
Shout out to the local creative businesses involved (although not all pictured above):

Amanada Nogier, Industrial Designer
Carousel Paper Co.
Confetti Sweets
Contessa Macarons
Fabloomosity
I Love the Moon
Justine Ma Design
Plum Home & Design
Pura Botanicals
Uppercase Press
The Project Loft

Showering the Bride!

Happy Monday and hello! I’ve been a bit absent around here lately, mostly because of a busy few months, plus it’s summer time and we’ve been out and about enjoying this heat. And there has been some intense heat in Edmonton so far!

Amidst our melting in this long stretch of +30 temperatures, we threw my little sister’s bridal shower last week, and we had the prettiest afternoon full of love, laughs and amazing food. We went with a sewing theme, as the soon-to-be Mrs. loves all things needlework and crafting. We included subtle details throughout the decor, like the spools of thread and buttons on the food cards pictured below, similar cake and cupcake decorations, complete with our favors – mini/emergency sewing kits that you can toss in your purse.

This beautiful wristlet was made by the talented girls at Fabloomosity. For all things floral that are every bit stunning as they are unique, you want to get in touch with these ladies. They’re a dream!

There’s something about small and intimate showers that makes for a perfect afternoon. We spent the day catching up, taking some girly pictures, and enjoying each other’s company. Throw some delicious snacks in there, and well, it doesn’t really get much better than that.

And every shower needs a little duvet tester!

The big day is less than two months away, which is crazy to believe! That might just be what I love so much about weddings – that there are a few smaller events and celebrations that take place in advance of the wedding day, making it seem like you’re celebrating the couple for months and months.

Here’s to another couple of months of fun, spoiling and enjoyment. Have a great week!

xo,
Kassey

Easter Parts One & Two

For those who may not know, Easter is the biggest religious celebration for Greek Orthodox Christians (it’s bigger than Christmas). Growing up, we have always celebrated Orthodox Easter, with certain festivities and family gatherings spilling over onto Western Easter, depending on how close the two fall if it’s not on a year that they coincide completely. Confusing, I know! You can read about the differences and why they are sometimes celebrated on different days here.

This year, we celebrated both. Western, or Catholic Easter, presented an opportunity to get together with family for an outdoor egg hunt at my aunt and uncle’s farm. This was a place where my sisters and I spent a lot of time in our younger years and it was so fun to go back now with Theodora. It’s not hard to see that she had a lot of fun filling her basket with the help of her older cousins, pointing out where the eggs and other Easter goodies were hiding!

She was clearly done at this point. With the egg hunt, and all of the pictures!

Orthodox Easter, which was just this past weekend, consisted of a lot of church-going and looking forward to the meat-filled feast that would break our 40-day fast. This typically includes a big lamb roast, but because not everyone was in town for the weekend, we opted for hosting an equally satisfying, but simple, brunch on Sunday morning. I vowed to take more pictures throughout the weekend, but failed miserably, getting caught up in the busy-ness of everything. I did, however, manage to take a couple on my phone – of Thea’s outfits that we dressed her in for church. Priorities, right?! Here, friends, our Orthodox Easter in Thea’s #ootd, or Outfits of the Day.

One of my dreams is to one day celebrate Easter in Greece – to really experience the richness, beauty and mystery of the holiday. Until that time, we will continue with carrying out the traditions we knew and loved during our childhood, with a whole lot of fun along the way!

I hope you’re having a great week!

xo
Kassey

Also…

Although an old article, Rita Wilson’s take on Orthodox Easter is a really personal and beautiful read, if you haven’t come across it already.

Fun fact ~ It’s a sweet coincidence that I post on this topic today. Easter was my grandma’s absolute favourite holiday, and today is her birthday! Happy Birthday yiayia. You are still very much alive in my heart and memories ❤

Thanks, 2014. Hello, 2015!

I hope you all have had a restful, food-filled holiday with all of the family time your hearts can handle, and more! That is what the holidays are all about after all, right?

It has been not just a great holiday season for us, but a great year all around. We took in all of our firsts with Theodora, and got to enjoy an energetic Christmas morning full of laughs as we watched her destroy every piece of tissue paper she came across. Who needs toys?!

As we were nearing the holidays, I was really hoping to take a true break and unplug. It’s hard to do, since day to day life is full of digital distractions, but I was determined to completely scale back on laptop, tablet and cell phone time. And what a success; we did it! We had several festive events on our radar, which we managed to take in, but most of all, we just wanted to hang out with our families. Visiting with family and friends was of top priority, especially those that made it in from out of town, so we feel refreshed after having caught up with those that are dear to us, but live far away.

It should be all 365 days of the year, but at Christmas time we are reminded to acknowledge and count our blessings. Having just payed my respects at an old friend’s funeral yesterday, that reminder was especially clear to me. I do my best to recognize all of life’s blessings all throughout the year, even (especially) the tiny ones, but I will make sure that for 2015, I kick that up a notch.

For example, I’m going to institute a wear-matching-slippers ritual, like we did on Christmas morning:

Or take a regular stroll through the local zoo at night:

Have a snow day on a more regular basis:

Relish in all of the joy that this little one brings us:

Also worth mentioning – she not only got her two front (top) teeth for Christmas, but also mastered walking! This proud mom is filling in these milestones in the baby book!

As our 2014 chapter comes to a close, we excitedly await 2015 and all of the fun it has in store for us. We’ve got wedding festivities on the horizon, and the regular daily adventures that we call life, so that in itself is a blessing. Hug those you love extra tight, and I wish you all every joy and happiness in 2015. Oh, and ring in the New Year safely 🙂

xo,
Kassey

RIP JC ❤

#yeg Spotlight: Holiday Shopping

The festive spirit has been evident in our home for a few weeks now, but my excitement really amps up the moment Halloween is over. Christmas is, without question, my favourite time of the year, and I have enjoyed holiday shopping this year with my favourite little shopping companion by my side. I really like to support local businesses as much as I can, so I turned to a few of my favourite local makers (and discovered some new ones along the way) when thinking about what we wanted to gift this year. Below, my go-tos and why I like them so much:

1. Justine Ma: Design & Hand Lettering
Can you remember a time when a handwritten note didn’t give you an extra special feeling? I can’t, especially when it’s this level of beautiful and perfect. Justine’s custom hand lettering is appropriate for pretty much all occasions and reasons for gifting, and will make a most heart felt and memorable gift. Her merchandise can be found in various local shops throughout the city, and she is a regular in the craft show scene, the details of which you can keep up with through her Instagram feed. It’s a gorgeous feed, and it’s sprinkled with appearances of her equally gorgeous family. You’re welcome 🙂

2. Sylvia Soo Leather, Art & Design
I haven’t really stopped gushing about Sylvia since I discovered her, and I have equal parts lust for her leather goods as I do her sweet personality. I first learned about her through an interview my friend, Gillian, did on her blog, The Noteworthy (you can read all about Sylvia here), and then I had the chance to meet her at the Make It Show last month. Clean, minimalist and impeccable craftsmanship are but a few of the ways I would describe Sylvia’s work. And while you’re perusing her site, I would encourage you to read about how she got started in leather making. It will move and inspire you in ways you probably won’t expect.

3. Jacek Chocolate Couture
There’s chocolate, and then there’s Jacek Chocolate. More than just a delectable, bite-sized treat, they’re nice to look at, too; I’ve actually heard of these being referred to as edible art! We upped our chocolate giving this year by grabbing a few beautifully boxed goodies, and in turn, we’re supporting a really cool local business. While I haven’t met the master chocolatier behind all of this, I’ve heard Jacqueline’s passion for the art is contagious. And by the evolution of her business, from home-based to storefront in the heart of downtown Edmonton, I’d say this passion injection is a good thing.

4. Duchess Bake Shop
I think all of Canada knows of Duchess Bake Shop by now, as they have truly established themselves as a prominent, top tier, bakery. It also represents all things beautiful and French, from the savoury Croque Monsieur to the pristine decor, it’s as if you’re hanging out in Paris for the day. Their cookbook, released earlier this fall, shares not only recipes, but tips, tricks and beautiful photos to help us recreate our favourites right at home.

5. Plum Home + Design
Beautiful things abound under the roof of Plum. For the antique lover, or the kitchen warrior, the crafting queen, or the office organizing nut, there is something for everyone. Each item in this store is perfectly curated to create the most charming shopping experience (online shopping is available, too!), making it really difficult not to walk out with something for yourself. Or that adorable baby in your life – Baby Plum is an expanding portion of this local business, and it’s a whole lot of soft, cute, and beautiful.

6. Evoolution
The wide variety of infused oils and vinegars available here make gift-giving a very smooth ride. I have been on the receiving end of an Evoolution gift, and I’m always so excited to put the new oil and vinegar pairing to work. For those Jamie Oliver types in your life, a gift set or individually chosen pairing just begs for experimentation. A sure win!

I would love for you to share some of your local favourites with me! I’m always looking to add to my list of local go-tos.

Have a great week!

xo,
Kassey

Images via:
http://www.plumhomeanddesign.com, my own, http://www.jacekchocolate.com, http://www.duchessbakeshop.com, http://www.evoolution.ca