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 \\

Beating the Heat

What a summer! And I’m talking about the heat. It seems like our summers have gotten hotter, in general. Is it just me?! I always say that the really hot days are still too few to justify installing an air conditioning unit in our home. Except that those really hot days are increasing in frequency and temperature, and I’m about ready to bid our fans adieu, and just go for the real deal. I blame a few things for this (my Mediterranean-living, heat-loving friends and family are rolling their eyes right now, I just know it!). One: I think it comes with age. I not only have become less tolerant of heat, but I physically can’t handle it like I used to in my 20s. Gone are the days where I could spend hour after hour being a slave to the sun. I get the shakes, I get weak, and I turn into a big mess if I don’t have a hat, a bottle of water and some shade nearby. Sigh. Two: 95% of my day is now spent running after and keeping up with my two young girls. My pre-kid self might relish in these soaring temperatures a bit more. But kid wrangling and +30 degrees…I’m sweating just thinking about it.

Bottom line: I love summer, I really do. I just love it with cold water and even colder decaf, iced Americanos. Here’s what we’ve been up to and how we’re beating the heat:

A Rocky Mountain getaway back in June. That cool, mountain air was welcomed with open arms.

 

Lots of lake walks, refreshing slurpees every once in a while, and playing tour guide for my cousin who recently visited from North Carolina

I have also made it my goal to experiment with some different dinner recipes to limit my oven use on the exceptionally scorching days. So far, I’ve tried these summer rolls (a new family hit!) and a summer vegetable soup (very similar to this recipe).

Hope you’re enjoying the summer! Tell me about the ways your beating the heat and any tasty, summer dinner recipes you love 🙂

xo,

Kassey

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 \\

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 ❤