Tanya Bakes by Tanya Burr

Penguin Random House Canada sent me a copy of Tanya Bakes in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart.

It’s a grey and drizzly day here in Ottawa, much like I imagine it to be in UK lifestyle blogger and YouTube star Tanya Burr’s corner of the world, only hers probably smells like fresh-baked cinnamon buns or lemon drizzle loaf or any of the other homey puddings, pastries, cookies and cakes in her lovely book, Tanya Bakes. It’s her first cookbook and her second book (Love, Tanya was released in 2015) and she’s got a third coming this September called Tanya’s Christmas: Make, Bake and Celebrate (which I’ve already got, thanks to my magical unicorn friend Maria). Inside this one are page after page of comfort foods — mostly desserts, but also some breakfast dishes and a pizza — accompanied by a brief bit about where or when they were first enjoyed or a tip on how to serve them. Many are family favourites, some a tribute to friends, and a few borrowed from the kitchens of beloved Brits Nigella Lawson, Mary Berry and Jamie Oliver.  Tanya Bakes by Tanya Burr

Scandinavian Gatherings: From Afternoon Fika to Midsummer Feast — 70 Simple Recipes & Crafts for Everyday Celebrations

Sasquatch Books sent me a copy of Scandinavian Gatherings for review purposes. All opinions are mine and from the heart. 

With a high of 7°C, it’s been milder here today then it has in ages yet even so, all I want to do is burrow under the covers and not come out until Spring has sprung. Fortunately I have lots of great books to keep me company. One I keep coming back to is Scandinavian Gatherings: From Afternoon Fika to Midsummer Feast — 70 Simple Recipes & Crafts for Everyday Celebrations by Melissa Bahen of the food and lifestyle blog Lulu the BakerScandinavian Gatherings: From Afternoon Fika to Midsummer Feast — 70 Simple Recipes & Crafts for Everyday Celebrations

What’s inside January’s Sweet Reads Box + A giveaway!

I received January’s Sweet Reads Box for free to review but all opinions are still my own. 

I know I gush a lot about Sweet Reads Box (if it’s the first you’re hearing of it, it’s a Canadian subscription box for book lovers that includes a novel and a few treats tied to the story) but when January’s arrived this week, I was so happy with it (it’s so me!) that I was like, “Is it my birthday?” As it so happens, today is my birthday and lucky me, I get to share one of my favourite things with you! Thanks to Kerrie and Mark at Sweet Reads Box, one try small things reader is going to win a January box of their own! Let’s see what’s inside.  What’s inside January’s Sweet Reads Box + A giveaway!

DIY valentine soap + A giveaway!

Thursday Plantation Canada sent me some samples to try free of charge, but all opinions are still my own. 

I’ve been reading a lot about self-care in the blogosphere over the past week or so and feel like I’m getting better about identifying (and maybe even embracing) what fills my cup (as uber cheesy as that sounds). Making something tangible with my own hands is huge for me. (This poster = TRUTH.) When I leave the camera or the kitchen or the blog for more than a few days it nags at me; I feel listless and ghost-like, like if I don’t make some sort of impression, something solid, then I don’t exist. Is that weird? Maybe as a lead-in for a fun and easy DIY. Maybe a little dark for this happy valentine soap. But it is what it is, and I have to tell you I was elated by how well these turned out and how much I enjoyed the process. If you’re a maker or think you might be one, show yourself some love with a sweet DIY you can keep for yourself or gift to family and friends. Valentine’s Day may be a few weeks away yet, but love is in the air with this super cute and good-smelling soap.    DIY valentine soap + A giveaway!

What’s inside December’s Sweet Reads Box

I received November’s Sweet Reads Box free of charge to review. All opinions are my own. 

Don’t pack up the decorations just yet — we have one more box to open before the holidays are out, and it’s a good one. Here’s what’s inside December’s Sweet Reads Box, the Canadian subscription box service for book lovers featuring a contemporary novel and related treats.  What’s inside December’s Sweet Reads Box

Quick DIY pom pom magnets for last-minute gifting

I partnered with Staples Canada who sponsored this fun DIY post. The creative content and opinions are my own.

I’m flattered if you think I’ve got it all together for Christmas but ha! That is so not true. The house is upside down, the tree is bare (we just brought one home last night), I have gifts to wrap and groceries to get, and I should probably wash my hair at some point. If this is you too (and I kind of love you if it is), you might feel like you don’t have time for one more thing but yes you do, because this DIY last-minute gift is quick and easy like you won’t believe.  Quick DIY pom pom magnets for last-minute gifting

Big gingerbread boys with KitchenAid’s Artisan Mini • A merry little recipe and review #gingerbreadforthewin

I received the products mentioned in this post for free from TSC. The opinions expressed in my post are my own and not those of Rogers. 

With less than a week to go, polling shows gingerbread has a decisive lead in the festive treats race. (Check out my last post for cute cookie ideas, a giveaway and up-to-the-minute poling results.) Today I’ve put a few new twists on an old family favourite. It’s a gingerbread boys recipe I think you’ll enjoy. (Of course you can make them girls or stars or whatever else you fancy.) My friend Cathy’s mother-in-law used to make them for her sons and grandsons when they were little (actually she still does). Their giant size thrilled the kids and their heft made them easy to handle and not so easy to break, which is essential when shipping them by post. On those years the grandkids couldn’t make it to see Nonna at Christmas time, she would package the gingerbread boys in popcorn to protect them on their journey, along with all the decorating essentials. I know. So sweet, eh? And isn’t it sweet that while I had visions of sugar plums dancing through my head, TSC had visions of me making cookies. To help me meet the demand for gingerbread boys they kindly sent me a KitchenAid Artisan Mini 3.5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer to review, and boy-oh-gingerbread-boy, this baby can dough go!  Big gingerbread boys with KitchenAid’s Artisan Mini • A merry little recipe and review #gingerbreadforthewin

It’s here! Inside October’s Sweet Reads Box

If you’ve been dying to see what’s inside October’s Sweet Reads Box, wait no more! I just wanted to give everyone who’d ordered one the chance to open it up and be surprised but since they shipped from Ontario last Monday (they go out on the 15th of every month), I think it’s safe to do an unboxing. If you missed last month’s post, Sweet Reads Box is a new Canadian subscription service for book lovers that includes a new novel and some treats connected to the story. Co-founders Kerrie and Mark sent me the October box free of charge to share with you here. So let’s get to it!  It’s here! Inside October’s Sweet Reads Box

Five travel essentials + A giveaway!

Even for a few days away I tend to way overpack but my travel essentials really don’t take up much room. Here are the must-haves I brought to Wasaga Beach for a girls’ weekend last month at Lakes of Wasaga Cottage and RV Resort. (Full disclosure: All of the products I’m talking about in this post were provided free of charge, but I wouldn’t share them with you if I didn’t love them and think you might too.)  Five travel essentials + A giveaway!

Sheet Pan Suppers Meatless + Win a copy!

I want to say it’s been a real sheetstorm cooking from Raquel Pelzel’s new Sheet Pan Suppers Meatless: 100 Surprising Vegetarian Meals Straight From the Oven but it’s actually been a breeze and delicious too. From soups to pastas, beans, breakfasts, breads and dessert, these one-pan wonders are packed with all of the nutritious goodness you get in dishes with veggies in a starring role and offer plenty of variety for our vegan and gluten-free friends. I tried three recipes and have one to share here with you, plus a copy for one lucky winner. (Thanks to Thomas Allen & Son, who sent me a copy to review.)  Sheet Pan Suppers Meatless + Win a copy!

A Canadian subscription box for book lovers: September’s Sweet Reads Box + A giveaway!

I remember driving to a party years ago for my hubby’s colleagues and stressing about who I could talk to and what on earth could we have in common. While most of the guests congregated in the kitchen, I spent the first hour or so (or maybe it was a half hour, but it felt like forever) alone in the front room petting the dog. And ‘tho he was pretty good company, I felt pretty lame. Eventually a few people wandered in and stopped talking shop and instead launched into a spirited debate about the merits of different fonts. Reader, I don’t think I’d ever felt so relieved. Finally a conversation I could get in on! I put a tentative toe into the water with a comment or two, and soon found myself in the warm bosom (ha!) of a few kindred spirits. Unfortunately they tired of the topic before me and we couldn’t seem to connect on anything else so it was back to the dog but it was good for a while there — really good! Of course I still overanalyzed everything for the next couple of days (honestly it’s years later and I still worry what they must have thought of me), but I lived to go to other parties and even managed to find a few more kindred spirits. I’m telling you this because I know there’s a lot of you out there who hate small talk and large groups (and maybe even leaving the house, lol) and yet really want to connect. Finding kindred spirits in some of you has been one of the best things that has come from try small things. I feel like I found my people! And since a lot of my people are book people, I know you’re going to love the wonderful surprise that came in the mail for me this week, and could for you too.  A Canadian subscription box for book lovers: September’s Sweet Reads Box + A giveaway!

The Scandinavian Home: Interiors Inspired by Light by Niki Brantmark

Borta bra men hemma bäst. (Swedish for “Away is good but home is best.”) • Fans of the pared-back, practical style typically warmed up with wood and other natural elements that is true of so many dwellings in Northern Europe will love Niki Brantmark’s new book, The Scandinavian Home: Interiors Inspired by Light. Niki is the creator of the award-winning interior design blog, My Scandinavian Home, and author of Modern Pastoral: Bring the Tranquility of Nature Into Your Home. Her second book takes readers into 10 swoon-worthy city, country and rural homes in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland, all of which speak to the tenets of Scandinavian living. “It’s a mindful, uncluttered lifestyle, and one that aligns well with modern thinking about sustainability,” Niki writes. “In many homes … you will find only a few beautifully crafted, high-quality iconic design pieces, antiques and flea-market finds made from natural, sustainable resources. All are pieces that stand the test of time.” Here are some of my favourite spaces from the the book. (Thanks for the copy, Thomas Allen & Son.)  The Scandinavian Home: Interiors Inspired by Light by Niki Brantmark