Tuesday, 15 December 2015

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

In anticipation for Christmas, I have been testing out baking recipes for the last week. After one too many pinterest fails, I decided to make a few tweaks of my own to a couple recipes I stumbled upon. This recipe worked out beautifully - these cookies are so soft and chewy and are a perfect little festive treat. I tested them out on my family (a rather blunt bunch of people I might add) and they were an absolute hit! I'll definitely be making these again come Christmas day.

- 3/4 cup butter (room temperature works best, if too soft it will cause your cookies to come out flat)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp baking soda
- a pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

- Beat together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Add in flour, salt, baking soda, and cornstarch until a soft dough is formed. By hand, add in the white chocolate chips and cranberries.
- Refrigerate dough for at least an hour, this is crucial to ensure your cookies do not turn out flat.
- Preheat oven to 350F, prepare by lining baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove chilled dough from refrigerator and roll 1 inch balls. Place on baking sheet ~2 inches apart.
- Bake for approx 6-10 minutes depending on your oven. I found 7 minutes to be the perfect timing for my oven.
- Don't fret if your cookied appear undercooked, they will settled even after they've been removed from the oven.
- Let cookies settle on baking sheet for ~5 minutes once removed from oven before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
- Lastly, dig in!

I hope you try out this recipe, make sure to share your experience with me if you do!


Monday, 14 December 2015

Beating the Winter Blues

Amidst the grey skies, shorter days, and cold weather it's quite easy to slip into a bit of a funk - otherwise known as the winter blues. This is something I've experienced over the last few years, particularly heightened since I came to university. Quite honestly, come winter time I barely ever want to leave the house. Now keep in mind, I'm typically avoiding the gale force winds and knee high snow that accompany a Canadian winter. Over the last few years I've become familiar with the term SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

SAD is a type of depression that accompanies a change in weather, you typically feel the effects of SAD in the fall and it drags out throughout the winter months - and if you live anywhere like I do these long winters make for absolute hell on earth. Just like depression, SAD can become absolutely debilitating. Even if you don't experience SAD and simply seem to fall into a bit of a temporary funk come winter time, you'll be familiar with the complete lack of motivation, and exhaustion. This year, I decided to be proactive about my SAD. I'm tired of feeling this way each winter, and I want to do as much as I can to avoid having to undergo this this winter. As I said SAD can be entirely debilitating and being a university student it can be absolutely miserable having to undergo this funk during your exams.

 Now, I'm not claiming this to be any sort of cure but these are some of the things I've been adamant on including into my routine this winter to try and keep my SAD relatively contained.

Firstly, I recommend picking up a "SAD lamp". Light technology can help improve your moods, your ability to focus, your motivation, and energy levels. I purchased mine on November 1st (I wasn't kidding about being proactive), and have been using it twice a day and have so far noticed quite a difference! I read that it is recommended that you turn your light on when you wake up and before you go to bed to create the illusion of longer daylight (as lack daylight is a contributor to SAD). I also use it when I'm studying or working on term papers to help with my focus and concentration. I purchased mine of amazon for around $50, again they are an investment but if this is something you go through it does make a world of a difference. There are several models, some quite a pretty penny but I find mine to work really well for a fair price. You can purchase the same one I have here.

My next tip - stay hydrated! Your hydration levels are crucial to anxiety. It's important to drink a lot of water for an endless amount of reasons but I've definitely noticed how crucial this can be for how I'm feeling. If you have anxiety and ever wonder why you feel particularly anxious after a night of drinking (some call it "hangover anxiety") it is due to your dehydration. When I first learned this my mind was b l o w n.

Lastly, get some fresh air each day. I know in exams and if you work from home it's all to easy to get cooped up inside but just spending a few minutes outside, just enough to get some fresh air, can make a world of a difference.

I hope these tips help as winter rolls in!


Friday, 11 December 2015

Tree Hunting

Finally came the day that we brought home a Christmas tree. Admitedly, our family is always super late to get around to getting a tree but this year we wanted to make a point of being somewhat timely. As the weather is obscenely nice in Ontario at the moment, everyone seems to be out cutting trees a lot earlier. It's definitely easier to get in the festive spirit when you don't have to trudge through thigh deep snow. 

After driving around to a few tree farms we finally settled on one near by that had the best selection for the fairest prices. It was a cute and quaint little farm off the side of the road that offers free cider and candy canes with an adorable little gift shop. My dad and I found our tree pretty quickly - well he found it .. and is a little too chuffed with himself if you ask me. 

All in all it was a lovely way to spend our morning. The weather was great, the sun was out, and it was an all around festive day. Now time to decorate! 


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A Day Uptown

This morning I had a law exam that I've been stressing over for weeks. For the last 5 days I've been cramped inside trying to prepare for it, so needless to say I was beyond anxious to get it over with. As soon as I walked out of my exam I called one of my closest friends Elektra, and we did a bit (a little more than a bit) of retail therapy. After having been home all week it was so nice to get outside and have a stress free afternoon. Uptown had been decorated for Christmas and it just felt like a perfectly festive afternoon. What started out as a stress and anxiety ridden morning turned out to be a day well spent with good company.


Monday, 7 December 2015

Winter Skin Essentials

Come winter time, my skin always tends to get quite dry. I typically have combination skin and around this time of year I start to notice that my skin becomes quite patchy and my makeup starts to sit weirdly on my skin. For those with dry or combination skin like myself, these two products will work beautifully and help to combat that dry winter air.

- Lush Ocean Salt is a great exfoliant, I tend to use this one more on my body than my face but it works great for both. This has become a staple in my shower, it keeps my arms feeling soft and because of the added citrus it actually works well to help with any discolouration as well, particularly in the underarm area.

- Body Shop Aqua Boost Sorbet this has quickly become a firm staple in my everyday skin care routine. It provides optimal moisture all day while keeping your skin matte, avoiding that greasy look many moisturizers tend to leave behind. 


Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Meaning of Christmas

This morning my cousin tagged me in an old home video from Christmas over 15 years ago. It featured highlights of me running around with an uncontrollable amount of excitement, my brothers as awkward teens, and my mom going crazy getting dinner ready. The home video also featured some family members who are sadly no longer with us.

A lot changes when you lose key members of your family, the glue that kept everyone together begins to dissolve and we all start to get more and more distant as we get older. There was something so heartbreaking yet so fulfilling about seeing us all together like that as a family. It's been years since we were all together in that way. It's crazy to see the dynamic then, and think of the dynamic now and how family really does play a key role in your life. It really hits you that behind the big production that is Christmas, family is the core of it all and without family you wouldn't have much to celebrate. Things are quickly changing as we continue to get older, while we are missing a few beloved members of our family, our family is also growing in other ways. And while it's an adjustment I'm learning to make, the most important thing is that we embrace the family we have and cherish being together this time of year. That is the true meaning of Christmas.


Saturday, 5 December 2015

Christmas Wish List

As we're nearing the end of the first week of December, our phones are starting to buzz with calls from every family member asking what we have on our Christmas lists. Every year I seem to be less and less prepared for these phone calls, and while there are several things I lust over throughout the year I can never seem to think of anything to ask for for Christmas. I remember as a child I would have my list ready by November 1st mind you, the first two items were always puppy and pony (the order of preference interchanged each year). This year, I've managed to put together a list. It mostly consists of things I've put off buying for myself throughout the year. 

This year I'm wishing for:
- Arthur Elgort: The Big Picture | This book looks amazing, I'm a big fan of Arthur Elgort's work so this would be an amazing gift to receive.
- Topshop Velvet Crossbody | I love the deep forest green colour, I don't have anything like it!
- Canon EF 50mm | This lens was made for bloggers, let's be real.
- Lush "It's Christmas Deer" tin | Lush's wrapped gifts never fail
- Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette | This palette is absolutely gorgeous, there's just nothing comparable on the market.
- Kat Von D "Vampira" | This colour is always sold out, it's a stunning deep red perfect for this time of year. 

What are you wishing for this Christmas?


Friday, 4 December 2015

Festive Night In

After having my first exam last night and with another coming early next week there's nothing I rather do tonight than just stay home and relax. What an exciting Friday night, eh? 
One of my favourite ways to kick back this time of year is to put on some Christmas pajamas, curl up in my coziest blankets, whip up a cup of hot cocoa, and put on a Christmas film. With all the running around that happens this time of year, especially for students like myself, sometimes it's nice and certainly needed to take a night to yourself. 

How are you spending your Friday night? 


Thursday, 3 December 2015

Holiday Polish Picks

I absolutely love this time of year and the rich colours we get to bring out and play around with. My go-to's for the holiday season are always reds and metallics. The deep reds are a great fall-to-Christmas colour and the metallics are great through the New Year. Nothing better than adding a little extra festive touch with your polish!

Here are some of my favourites for this year (left to right):

- L'Oreal Because You're Worth It | an opaque rich gold
- Butter London Chancer | the perfect Christmass glitter red
- H&M #501 | a gorgeous deep red
- Essie Buy Me a Cameo | beautiful rose gold/copper

What are your favourite polishes this time of year?


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Lush Holiday Goodies

Come Winter, nothing beats the cold like a nice warm bath. As per usual, Lush has out done themselves again with their Holiday range. There are so many new additions alongside the annual return of some of their Christmas classics. I tried to contain myself this round, because let's be honest this won't be the only batch of holiday goodies I'll be picking up from them this year. 

- Stardust: This bathbomb is a new addition to Lush's Christmas range, it has strong hints of vanilla and rosewood. I used it after I shot for this post and it was incredibly moisturizing and relaxing.

- The Magic of Christmas: This bubble bar is another new addition to the Christmas range. I absolutely love these bubble wands, and find they last much longer than the regular bubble bars. This truly makes your bath smell like your swimming in a tub of Christmas, with the strong cinnamon and clove scents. I also used this after I shot for this post, and although it is quite glittery it all seems to fade within the first use and there was next to no cleanup. It adds a nice golden colour to your bath as well.

- Yog Nog: This bathbomb is another new addition to the Christmas range. This has to be my favourite scent of the range it has such a rich, smooth toffee scent it smells absolutely delicious. This bathbomb also has soymilk and shea butter, perfect for keeping your skin smooth and soft this winter.

- Luxury Lush Pud: This bathbomb is making a return to the Christmas range this year. With the perfectly relaxing hints of lavender it's no wonder it's made it's way back into the range. 

Have you picked anything up from the Lush Christmas range this year?


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

The Christmas Tag

That time of year has come - welcome, everyone to Blogmas 2015! Now, this is my first ever year participating in Blogmas and I have to say I'm pretty excited for the challenge. There's absolutely nothing I love more than the Christmas season and all it brings so why not celebrate it here on the blog? To kick off Blogmas I thought I'd write a post that'll get us all in the Christmas spirit. Tags aren't normally my content of choice but what better way to kick off Blogmas than a fun tag all about the Christmas season?! Now, I didn't see too many tags floating around this year so I thought I'd put one together myself! Hope you all enjoy and try the tag yourselves, I'd love to see your replies!

1. What is your favourite Christmas film?

My favourite Christmas classic is Home Alone, my more grown up choice has to be The Holiday.

2. What is your favourite Christmas tradition?
I love going to all the Christmas markets and fairs around this time of year, it's the absolute best way to get into the Christmas spirit and you can find some great one-of-a-kind gifts there as well!

3. Fake tree or real tree?
Real tree all the way. Nonnegotiable.

4. What is your favourite Christmas song?
Probably Merry Christmas Everyone - Shakin' Stevens, but I do love a bit of Mariah Carey this time of year

5. What food do your most look forward to for Christmas dinner?
My mum's stuffing is unbeatable. I don't even need the turkey, I'd be entirely content with just her stuffing.

6. What are you wishing for the most this Christmas?That everyone is able to sit back and take the day to relax and cherish the time with family. I just want everyone to be able to enjoy their Christmas! (and I mean I wouldn't complain if there was a nice new 50mm lens under the tree)

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