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 \\

#yeg Spotlight: KidsFringe!

The Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is a well known and seriously loved summer festival not just by Edmontonians, but by theatre goers around the world. We had the opportunity to check out the KidsFringe last week, a branch that is fully dedicated to activities and entertainment fit for the 12 and under crowd, and had a great time!

There were drummers from the Booming Tree Taiko Drum Group. These guys were a hit, and Thea has been re-enacting the drumming ever since.

 

There was a craft and coloring area, and a Book Nook where Cinderella and Belle themselves conducted a little story time break. (I really thought I’d have a hard time tearing Thea away from her dream Disney princesses, but that blue balloon was much more interesting to her. Go figure!)

 

And, it’s not pictured here, but there was also a Tent for Tots, which contained a variety of toys and activities for little ones aged five and under. A magnetic attraction drew us to this particular tent, so needless to say, we spent a bit more time in there.

It was really neat to take in the Fringe Festival a little differently this year. It’s a summer attraction that we have enjoyed in the past, with the outdoor vendors and performances being reminiscent of Europe, in a way. The shows, of course, are something to see as well, with incredible talent coming alive on stage. As the festival celebrates its 35th anniversary this summer, it was especially fun to take it all in and see the success of a true, grass-roots Edmonton success story. The KidsFringe runs the full ten days of the entire festival, so there’s still time to check it out (August 11-21).

We will definitely be back!

 

Hope you’re having a great week!

xo

Kassey

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 \\

Say a Little Prayer for Fort McMurray

I’ve been working on a fun Mother’s Day post to share with you, but with yesterday’s news of the devastating fires in Fort McMurray, I felt compelled to switch gears a little bit.

Rarely do I engage in conversations around politics or environment, mainly because there are such strong views and opinions on the subjects, neither of which I am particularly savvy. I feel more comfortable keeping my opinions to myself, while also being aware of the conversations that are taking place to keep myself informed. Fort McMurray is often at the centre of discussions and reports surrounding environment and politics, for understandable reasons.

Yesterday, though, my heart broke as I heard of a city and it’s people being completely ravaged by wildfires that spread through a place more than 60 000 people call home. Natural disasters such as these can and have occurred anywhere and at any time, but this one struck a personal cord with me. Fort McMurray is the place my parents call home away from home. For the last 20+ years, my dad has worked in the oil sands, and in more recent years, it gained one of its newer residents, my mom, who decided to make the move and share in the life and commute that had become so familiar to him. One of my favourite things has been the reactions of people when they hear that my parents live in Fort Mac. “Do they like it?” I often hear in bewilderment, or “Oh, I could never live there”. There was definitely a time when I shared in those sentiments, but then I actually started spending some time up there, and I started asking my parents about their life up there. I learned very quickly that not only did they love it, but I understood why they loved it.

It’s a community just like any other with residents and locals, it’s own vibrancy and quirks, and a genuine desire to shed light and truth on the many criticisms and stigmas that exist about the city. It has a certain beauty year round (yes, even in the winter!) with its vast and rolling hills and an outdoors that deserves to be boasted. I had the privilege of hearing Mayor Melissa Blake speak at a conference I attended in Fort Mac about five years ago, and was so inspired by her passion and dedication to make Fort McMurray the best place to live and work. I don’t think they’re too far off from achieving that, as she talked about the initiatives and developments they were working on to really build that sense of community and make it an attractive place for people of all ages and families of all sizes to make it their home. My parents have engaged in this community, making a great circle of friends and participating in things they love – old and new – and the community has met them with a big warm hug. My parents aren’t true locals of Fort McMurray, but it doesn’t care; it has treated them as though they are. Now that I think about it, the transience of the city is maybe a beam of light in this situation – home is elsewhere for many of the people affected.

Grateful doesn’t begin to describe how I feel that my parents are not currently in Fort McMurray during this overwhelming time. Thanks to some travel plans that brought them back through Edmonton, they narrowly escaped having to evacuate and face the gridlock that took place on Highway 63. We still don’t know the state of their home up there, and while it doesn’t sound promising, we’re counting all blessings that our situation isn’t much worse. Because, for many residents of Fort McMurray, the situation is that nightmare you hope you never have to experience.

It’s at times like these that I am reminded of the kindness of people; complete strangers willing to open their doors and help one another. This CBC news report talks about the various supports that are being made available, as well as how and where you can donate if you are looking to do so (Red Cross ).

My heart and my thoughts are with this city during such a difficult time.

Happy mid-week!

xo

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

And Then There Were Four

We have been a family of four now for the last two and a half months (or if you’re counting the nine months of pregnancy, that would make it 11 and a half months!) and it’s been a whirlwind of embracing our newest family member with more love than we ever imagined our hearts capable of. It really has felt like Emmanuela has been part of the family forever, and it’s hard to believe she was only ten days old in these pictures. Time flies when you’re having fun!

Our newborn/family pictures with Kelsy Nielson started out with a mini-shoot of Thea playing with her headbands and bracelets (this happens on the daily around here!) These, coupled with the images of us all in our early days with Emma, are ones I will treasure forever. A million thanks to Kelsy for capturing these special moments for us again. She’s just the best!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy mid-week!

xo

Kassey

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

We are a family of four! But first…

Well, hello! Sincere apologies for my absence on here lately, but as you may remember, we welcomed our second daughter last month and we’ve been indulging in all of that newborn magic. And, let’s be honest, adjusting, cause a house with a toddler and a newborn requires adjusting. For the most part, it’s been going well, and I am now just emerging from the haze caused by lack of sleep and learning to divide myself between two little humans. But they’re so darn cute and lovable that it all works out in the end 🙂

Before I gush about how much I love that we are now a family of four, allow me to talk about our last couple of months as a family of three. Let me take you back to early November, when we decided to do some family photos that were somewhat twofold. Okay, threefold. One was to work with the amazing Kelsy Nielson again (she has photographed us since our days as two newly engaged, fresh faced kids!) Another was to capture us as a family of three, with my prominent baby bump. And finally, I wanted to use one of the photos for our Christmas cards. Sounds simple, and I expected it to be a simple and enjoyable process because we came to our photo location prepared: treats, toys, books, and tablet in tow. Everything Thea likes on a normal day. Except that it wasn’t a normal day because we skipped a nap and had something specific we wanted to accomplish. Our strong-willed two year old had different plans; plans that included things going completely opposite. Tantrums, hot chocolate stains, toddler wrangling and puddle battling were but a few of the happenings in that short time span, though you wouldn’t guess it from the pictures below. That’s all thanks to the magic that is Kelsy – photographer and kid whisperer extraordinaire.

 

 

 

 

 

After dissecting and re-hashing the incidents that unfolded (and after a few tears of frustration, if I’m being honest) I realized that, hey, she’s a two year old. That’s just how they roll – they’re happily cooperating and eating a chocolate chip cookie one minute, and then like the flip of a switch, losing their minds because we said no to puddle jumping (after she was already soaked from 20 minutes of puddle jumping)!

I love how Kelsy captured us here, and I look forward to sharing some pictures where she captured us as a new family of four with our sweet Emmanuela. Stay tuned!

xo,

Kassey

// 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 \\

See & Do in #yeg || Holiday Edition

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a good friend asking me for recommendations on what to see and do in the city over the holidays. A friend of hers will be bringing her boyfriend to Edmonton for Christmas, and she wanted my “expert” advice. I laughed when I read that part, because…expert?! Despite being born and raised in Edmonton and area (my friend is a former Edmontonian, too; now Calgarian), I hardly consider myself an expert. More suitable titles I’d be quick to claim could include city lover, fun seeker, or even cheerleader (because I’m always trying to sing our city’s praises to whoever will listen!) But I was up for the challenge and excited to share some of the things that pop into my mind when prompted with a question like this. (love ya, MT! I really enjoyed putting this together!)

Exploring the city, whether by day or night, has changed for us a little bit since becoming parents, but I tried to include spots that would appeal to all kinds of people, children in tow or not. Most of the places below are ones we have experienced and can attest to why they’re on this list, and others are here because they’re on our radar and we hope to tackle them in the near future. I know I’ve probably missed a few as well, but to fill that gap, I like to stay informed through my favourite, go-to sites like Explore Edmonton, Share Edmonton, Where.ca, and Twitter.

So here it goes! I hope you like it, and please do share your favourites with me!

Image: Iconoclast Coffee via Vue Weekly

You can tell something ranks highly with me when I create a category for it all on its own! There’s something I love about incorporating a delicious and warm coffee or hot chocolate on a cold winter day, and even more so when you can make it social and meet with friends for a catch up. My picks below include places that boast an abundance of charm, a really fun atmosphere, and that showcase really cool parts of Edmonton.

Rosso
Leva
Little Brick
Transcend
Credo
Remedy Cafe
Iconoclast
Lockstock
Coffee Bureau
DaCapo
Duchess
Elm Cafe
District Coffee
Burrow
Cafe Bicyclette

Image: Parlor Italian Kitchen & Bar via Explore Edmonton

My late night suggestions will surely differ from those coming from someone who’s evening is not dictated by a toddler (and a soon-to-be newborn in five short weeks!) 🙂 But a lot of the restaurants listed here spill over into late night spots, anyway, so it’s a win-win in my mind – great food plus a great night all around.

Rosso
Leva
The Marc
Tres Carnales
Rostizado
Woodwork
North 53
The Common
Parlor Italian Kitchen & Bar
Corso 32
Three Boars
Cibo Bistro
Bar Bricco
Dovetail Deli
Farrow Sandwich

Image: skating at City Hall via Explore Edmonton

I continue to learn and get excited about really cool, outdoor activities to take in throughout the winter months. Not knowing what these friends of my friend were into, I took a more broad approach in recommending holiday activities. You could call them more winter-friendly as opposed to holiday-specific, but a fresh white blanket of snow and some twinkling lights give me the warm holiday fuzzies any day!

River Valley Adventure Co – snow shoe tours through the river valley
Sleigh shuttle in Old Strathcona – five pick up locations throughout the area
Outdoor skating – various locations
Tobogganing – fun for adults and kids alike
Skiing – Edmonton Ski Club, Rabbit Hill, Snow Valley, Sunridge Ski Area
Cross-country skiing – various locations

Hope your week is off to a great start! xo

Kassey

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

#yeg Spotlight: Holiday Gift Guide 2015

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, and I’m excited once again to share my list of a few local favourites that I will be shopping and gifting for the holidays (you can check out my round up of last year’s locals here, who are producing wonderful things yet again this year!)

I know not everyone gets excited about Christmas music immediately following Halloween, or the decorations popping up faster than you can say “boo!”. But, truth be told, I am totally one of those people that has Christmas movies and mugs on rotation all year round. Regardless of where you stand on the Christmas excitement meter, the task of shopping for the holidays can be daunting; even dreadful at times. But if you’re making a commitment to shop locally, and that’s something you enjoy anyway, then I hope to inspire even the slightest bit of cheer with my collection below.

Clockwise:

Transcend Coffee Subscription
Coffee. Delivered to your house. Need I say more?! This local shop has made gift-giving to the serious coffee lover so much easier. You select the type of subscription you want, length of time you wish to send coffee to the recipient’s home, and Transcend takes care of the rest of the logistics. I have almost signed myself up many times…

The Skinny
For all of those impeccably dressed little ones in your life. This shop carries everything from cute and modern swaddle blankets to outfits that make you want to request the same in adult sizes. All of the shop’s items are curated by the lovely (in every sense of the word) Erinn, and can be shopped either online or from their trendy, underground storefront in Vacancy Hall of the Mercer Warehouse.

Top Knot Style
I recently gifted one of these luxurious and beautiful cowls to my sister for her birthday, and it’s taking everything in me not to order one of everything else for myself and the rest of my family! All hand made, right here in Edmonton!

Pura Botanicals
I have yet to experience the beauty and serenity of Pura’s brand new space located on 124 Street, but what I know from pictures and experiences of friends of mine that have been, I can’t wait to discover more. Eco-friendly, sustainable, and effective skin care is a gift everyone must experience, right?

Berg and Betts
Stylish accessories made from the heart. This local company truly works magic with their hands as they transform scrap leathers into beautiful watches of various styles, and tassle necklaces that are highly coveted by any fashion girl at heart.

I don’t want to end this post without mentioning the holiday markets, because that is where you can get your hands on even more uniquely Edmonton goods:

Make It Edmonton – November 26-29
Cory Christopher Christmas Market – now until December 20
Royal Bison – November 27-29 + December 4-6
Shop the Loft – December 12

It’s fun and exciting to me to find that perfect holiday gift for the special people in our lives, but it’s giving, in general, that excites me the most. In keeping with our family tradition of giving back, this year we have decided to donate to the organizations that will be supporting Syrian refugees coming to Edmonton. An unavoidable issue in the news these days, this is something that lives very close to my heart. Maybe it’s because I’m the daughter, granddaughter and niece of immigrants, who faced similar struggles (though the circumstances for coming here were different, in some cases). Or maybe it’s because we have a young family of our own and can’t help but see our own daughter in the faces of the young children and their families on the treacherous journey to a better life. Either way, if my family’s contributions help make even the slightest difference, then it’s something we’re ready to dive right into. Here are the links to some information we found helpful, and where/how to donate:

Direct help in Edmonton: Mennonite Centre for Newcomers

Canadian Red Cross

UNHCR Canada – The UN Refugee Agency

Thanks for reading, and hope you’re having a great week! xo

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

Work || Ultimate Upcycle Challenge

I recently wrapped up a project that I am really excited to share here. Part of my excitement comes from the beauty and creativity that came out of this work, and the other part of my excitement stems from the organization that all of the proceeds benefited. Allow me to explain further.

I had the pleasure of coordinating and managing a group of local media and design personalities that were selected to participate in a media challenge for the Edmonton Fall Home Show. Over the course of a couple of months, I worked closely with this group to answer questions, provide guidance and help keep them on deadline. The other big player in this was a branch of Habitat for Humanity (HFH) called Restore, which is the social enterprise part of HFH, accepting donations of gently used pieces of furniture and then reselling them to the public at a greatly reduced price. So, what was the challenge at hand? Our group of locals were tasked with selecting a seat or chair from Restore and, using their creativity and a box of supplies provided by one of the show sponsors – Rust Oleum, they had to upcycle and inject some life and love back into this pre-loved piece. The finished products were up for auction at the Edmonton Fall Home Show (which ran from October 23-25, 2015), with all proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity Northern Alberta.

Like I said, there was so much that I loved about this work! I didn’t participate in the challenge myself, but I felt SO inspired once I saw these creations displayed at the show. Incredible results, with a tie in to a really incredible organization. I keep thinking back to my new friend, Sharon, who works for HFH and who I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with at the show. We bonded over the design and creativity that came out of each individual’s work, but she was also really excited for what this meant for Habitat for Humanity. Thanks to the flurry of activity and buzz this challenge generated on social media, it would no doubt bring more awareness to HFH, Restore, and the endless possibilities that can come out of a bit of time and creative thinking.

The participants ranged from radio personalities to designers and bloggers, and they were just an awesome group to get to know! While I’d love to share everyone’s work here, I have selected a few who are friends of mine, and who gave me the a-ok to gush about their work all over again. And there was one chair in particular that made me shed a tear when I learned I got outbid. Sigh. It wasn’t meant to be, I guess!

Anyway, enough talk! It’s time for some before and after photos. Enjoy!

Justine Ma, Designer
Justine Ma Design & Hand Lettering

So beautiful, right?! It’s a little difficult to see in the “After” picture, but Justine hand lettered a caption, which she then had screen printed onto the fabric that covered the actual seat, and it says “Let Yourself Rest”. A pleasant reminder on any given day.

Christine Shankowsky, Blogger + Designer
Just Bella Blog

Another beauty, but this one also has a bit of sass! The color combination is so fresh and girly at the same time; this is sure to inject a whole lotta personality in a space!

Funnily enough, Christine and Justine both picked the same chair (structure-wise) and created two very different, but equally stunning redesigns!

Diana Tidswell, Blogger + Designer
204 Park

Alas, the one that got away. Diana’s balance of glam, girly, and minimalist was all on point for me here, and it truly was love at first sight when I saw this “After” photo!

All photos thanks to the participants themselves who snapped, tweeted and blogged them.

For more show coverage, you can look back on the hashtag #EFHS15 (on Instagram & Twitter) for some of the other participants’ chairs.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week! xo

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