Categories
Holidays

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

I had never really been a fan of Gingerbread anything (sorry!)…I always found the spice was a little too nice and it never really tasted that good. I’m realizing as I’m getting older (sigh) that my taste-buds are changing and things I never used to like, or be drawn to, I’m giving another try – and liking them! To my surprise this Christmas season, Gingerbread Cookies happened to be one of those things.

Follow along to see some snaps on making and decorating the Gingerbread Cookies! The recipe below was adapted from Gimme Some Oven. I didn’t include the icing sugar recipe, since I prefer to use the already pre-made and pre-coloured icing from the grocery store or bulk barn!

A very special thank you to @MagicInColours Photography for the great shots! You can follow her on Facebook to see more of her work or if you’re in the GTA and want some shots taken – get in touch with her there!

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Ingredients:

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe:

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • Icing + Sprinkles/Decorations

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, cloves, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together for 2 minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Add in eggs and molasses, and beat on medium speed until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.
  3. Divide the dough into two equal portions, and form them each into a ball.  Then flatten each ball into a 1-inch thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  4. Heat the oven to 350°F.  Unwrap the dough and place it on a large, lightly-floured hard surface.  Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough evenly until it is approximately 1/4-inch thick.  Then use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out your desired shapes, re-rolling the dough as needed to cut out more.  Transfer to parchment-covered baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Once the cookies are room temperature, DECORATE!

 
Don’t have the time to whip up this recipe? Check out my fast (and easy) holiday baking favourites here!

Merry Christmas!

lxiv

Categories
Holidays

Best Holiday Baking Recipes

I don’t know about you, but my sweet tooth comes out in full force during the holidays. There’s something about making homemade sweet amazingness baked goods that just puts you right in the Christmas spirit. Here in Toronto we have about a foot of snow on the ground and we’re expecting more this week, so it just feels so right when you have a cup of hot chocolate and a couple (4+) sugar cookies to snuggle up on the couch with.

This holiday I actually have the time to bake since I am no longer in the retail industry. To be honest, Christmas is WAY less stressful and I am actually able to spend quality time with the people I love and do fun and festive activities! Christmas is also way less stressful this year because both Adam and my family decided to do “secret” Santa for all of our gifts. You can probably guess why secret is in quotations…it’s never really a secret by the end of it – especially when you want to get gifts that people will actually use/like. Not only are we doing this as a money saving option, but we’re making it more about what Christmas is truly all about; spending time with people you love versus spending a ton of money on gifts!

With that being said, don’t show up to your holiday outings or quality time with friends and family empty handed! Below is a round up of my top 5 favourite (and easy) holiday recipes that you can make for your holiday gatherings. Some have a few more steps to them, and others you can whip up last minute and it will still be amazing!

1. Gingerbread Cookies.

Stay tuned for a blog post on this one soon! This recipe is SO simple and the cookies turned out amazing! Screen Shot 2017-12-17 at 9.23.38 AM

 

2. No Bake Peanut Butter Balls

I’ve made these without the graham crackers that this recipe calls for and it still tastes amazing, so if you don’t have that ingredient handy in your cupboard, I wouldn’t sweat it!

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3. Three Ingredient Cookies and Cream Fudge

I posted this recipe last year on my blog for the #12DaysOfChristmas series. This is my ultimate favourite recipe. It takes no time at all to make. Just be sure to factor in the time it takes to place harden in the freezer!

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4. Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

The mix of shortbread cookie and chocolate is the best combo ever. Here are two different versions because I love the idea of using Hershey kisses that are pictured below,  but I don’t love the recipe that was used… cornstarch is 100% not the right ingredient for this (in my opinion). I use Martha Stewart’s version and it turns out amazing! Be sure not to over cook this recipe, I put them in the oven for the shortest time and trust me – they are done even if they don’t quite look it! PS. I’m loving the interactive elements on Martha Stewart, where you can actually check off each ingredient and steps as you go through the recipe.

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5. Sugar Cookies!

Of course, this classic make the list! Sugar cookies aren’t as difficult as you think! This recipe even shows you how to decorate your cookie like a pro! No royal icing required.

Quick tip: I use the already made icing, I found them in huge tubes at Bulk Barn and Walmart this year and they are so easy to work with. If you want to do details though, I would probably stick to the real deal, but this was easy for flooding the cookies!

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What’s your favourite holiday baking recipe? Have any that you must make every holiday season? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay connected with me on social media to get even more inspiration! 

Instagram: @stephhdavis
Twitter: @stephhdavis

Merry Christmas!
lxiv

Categories
Decor Holidays

Budget Friendly Christmas Decor

It’s cold and rainy on this Saturday morning here in Toronto. All I want to do is snuggle in bed and watch YouTube videos all day; but I’m supposed to be putting up all of our Christmas decorations. I specifically book this weekend off work every year to do it, but I’m not quite in the mood. So to try to put me in the holiday spirit, I figured I would post my newest pieces that I added to our Christmas decorations this year. And the best part? All budget friendly and inexpensive!! I purchased everything below from the Dollarstore and Canadian Tire. I am really, really loving the Canvas collection from Canadian Tire. Year after year they come out with some classic pieces that are decent quality and for a great price.

Follow along below to see my favourite new pieces this year. I’ll be posting a full house tour in the coming weeks to show you how I decorate our apartment for the Holidays! So, stay tuned for that!

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This year we’re going for a farmhouse/rustic vibe with very little pops of red. I want the space to feel cozy with a ton of lights and more neutral metallic accents. Check out my Pinterest Board “Christmas 2017 Decor” for my inspiration.

The total for all of these decorations came under $40! You don’t have to spend a whole lot of money to achieve a festive atmosphere! Some Christmas music and good cheer go a long way!

Now that I’m feeling a little more inspired, I’m going to get started with my decor!

Merry Christmas and Happy Decorating!

lxiv

Categories
Decor Holidays Lifestyle

12 Days of Christmas: Oh, Christmas Tree

Can you believe only 5 more sleeps until Christmas? How has December flown by this fast? And, only 5 more days left to post for the 12 Days of Christmas!! I hope you’ve found some inspiration and joy from the posts so far. A huge thank you to those of you who have been following along! For today’s post, I will be sharing our Christmas Tree and some of the ornaments I added to our collection this year.

img_2056_2img_2057img_2059_2img_2062img_1814Our theme this year was metallic (lots of warm golds, bronze and silver) with classic red and green plaid with flecks of gold.I purchased the ornaments (in order) from Anthropologie (both “Merry” and “falala”), Urban Outfitters and Winners! The Christmas tree is from Canadian Tire from a few years ago.

I feel like everyone puts on their ribbon differently on the tree and at different times of the entire decorating process. I started my decorating by placing the ribbon, then adding the shiny, matte and sparkly ball ornaments and then added my special pieces in areas that were highly visible! I continue layering until I like what I see…it’s never about making it perfect – trees should be unique!

As you already know from previous posts, I love sparkle during the Holidays. It reminds me of the look of freshly fallen snow on a crystal clear night that sparkles when you look at it. I’ve also come to realize that Winter is my favourite season…Don’t be too mad at me for that!

What’s your favourite theme/colour story to decorate for Christmas? Let me know in the comments below!

Merry Christmas!

lxiv

Categories
Decor Holidays Lifestyle Photography

12 Days of Christmas: The Toronto Christmas Market #tcm16

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I always found it so interesting that people tend to already live in such amazing cities or towns but choose to travel around the world. I have lived in Toronto my entire life and have to admit that I do not know my city very well when it comes to what makes people want to travel here. I’ve been making a serious effort to explore my city and to visit some amazing places at home! This year, I was determined to go to The Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery District. So, my finance, fur-baby and I ventured out on the coldest night (so far) and explored!

I was so happy to discover that dogs are allowed and welcomed at The Christmas Market! Ace was definitely a crowd pleaser in his cute little Christmas sweater. We couldn’t get very far without stopping for people who wanted to say hello to our handsome little fellow.

Our first stop (no doubt) was a Grilled Cheese station. I can’t even express in words on this blog how yummy our grilled cheese was. We ordered “Christmas Dinner” grilled cheese, which was turkey, cranberry sauce and brie. I promise to post about how to make this amazing sandwich. I have a few favourite food groups and grilled cheese is absolutely one of them!

We wandered around some more, looking at the different markets and new light displays. Overall it was a beautiful sight. I just wish there was a few more things to do…as it got a tad boring by the end and only ended spending just over an hour there. I think it would have been too cold to stay any longer anyways!

But, it’s definitely worth checking out and will certainly put you in the Christmas spirit!

Next on my Christmas Market list is Nathan Philips Square (somewhere I also have never visited!!).

Take a look at some of the photos I snapped (in between trying to keep my fingers warm – I definitely need the touch gloves for Christmas).

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What are some of your favourite places to visit during the Holidays?

Merry Christmas!
lxiv

Categories
Crafts Holidays Lifestyle

12 Days of Christmas: How to Wrap the Perfect Gift

Now that my Christmas shopping list has been checked once and almost twice, it’s time to start wrapping them! I love selecting beautifully designed wrapping paper, tying the gifts with ribbon and finishing it all off with a bow! After the final touches, I add my homemade gift tags so that I know who gets what! Gift wrapping is not always easy, so I’m showing you my tips and tricks on how to wrap the most beautiful gift!

What you’ll need:

  • Wrapping paper of your choice
  • Box
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Ribbons and Bows (optional)
  • Candle and hot chocolate for a festive touch (also, optional!)

img_1826Step 1: Roll out your wrapping paper and place your box on top. Ensure that your paper completely covers the box.

img_1827img_1829Step 2: Once you have measured, make the first cut length-wise.

img_1831Step 3: You will now make your second cut to ensure that the wrapping paper will not be too wide to make your fold for the sides of the box. My rule of thumb is that the sides of your paper should hit at approximately half of the height of the box.

img_1834Step 4: Ensure that the box is flipped upside down. Then take the longer side of the paper, fold around the box and tape to secure in the middle. Repeat with other side.

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img_1836Step 5: Turn the box so that one side is facing you. Fold down the top edge.

img_1838Step 6: Now take the right corner and fold towards the center (follow the folds that will naturally be made from Step 5). The top and right edges of the box should be smooth. Repeat for the left side.

img_1839img_1840Step 7: To make a nice, crisp point on the bottom, you can fold the excess paper (the paper that sticks out beyond the nice line you created) underneath the one fold, or you can just simply cut it out.

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Step 8: Fold the bottom point upwards towards the center and secure with tape!

img_1843Step 9: Repeat steps 5-8 on the other side!

Step 10: Final step is to use ribbons and bows to add your special touches!

img_1845img_1848Attach the tag to the gift by using the ribbon you added, or simply tape it on the box. I chose to leave extra ribbon, cut it in half and use that to tie a small knot!

img_1850img_1851There you have it! I chose to attach the bows and ribbon onto the “side” of the box to make that the top since it was a cube. However, you would normally flip the box over (especially with a rectangular shape) so that the side without any folds or tape is on top. You can repeat the same steps for any shape or size. The most important step is measuring the paper to your gift box!

What’s your wrapping style? Do you like to decorate with ribbons and bows? Or do you prefer a gift bag and some tissue paper? Let me know in the comments below.

lxiv

Categories
Crafts Holidays Lifestyle

12 Days of Christmas: Holiday Gift Tags DIY

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Every time I go to buy Christmas tags for all of my thoughtfully purchased gifts, I can’t get over the price tag! Tags are SO EXPENSIVE! I’m not just being frugal….I genuinely think that they are overpriced (yes, I know you can get some at the Dollar store…but they aren’t as pretty!). My sister and I decided last year that we were going to try to make our own tags! We loved the way they turned out, so I’m going to share how to make them with you!

Here’s what you’ll need:

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  • Bristol board (white…or whatever colour you want)
  • White glue
  • Loose glitter
  • Foam brushes
  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • Pencil
  • Sissors
  • Hole punch
  • Hairspray (yes, hairspray!)

Step 1: Trace out a tag template (you can find them on Pinterest for free or just hand-draw your own. Cut out the template and use this to trace onto the rest of the bristol board.

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Step 2: Cut out each tag.

Step 3: Paint each tag with the colour paint of your choosing! We chose gold as it made the tags look like they had a wood grain finish! No need to be precise – and this WILL get messy! Make sure the one side is completely dry before painting the other side of the tag.

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Step 4: Once the tags are dry, use the foam brush to apply the white glue where you want your glitter to go. We opted to only apply the glitter to the bottom of the tag. However, we have done polka-dots or other designs in the past!

Step 5: Apply the glitter! Ensure that the glue you applied is completely covered by the glitter. Tap off any excess.

*TIP* We used a plastic bag to “catch” the loose glitter so that we didn’t waste any and so that there wasn’t as big of a mess!

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Step 6: Hairspray! With an aerosol can of hairspray, spray the tags where you applied the glitter to ensure it stays in place and sets the glitter.

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Step 7: Last but not least, hole punch where you will want your ribbon or string to go through.

Simple but cute DIY and easy to get the whole family involved!

Alternatively, you can use the glitter paper that I mentioned in my Garland DIY post and cut out the tag templates. You can still paint it if you would like or leave it white!

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Stay tuned for the next 12 Days of Christmas post where I show you how to wrap the perfect gift with these tags!

Let me know if you’re going to try this DIY! I’d love to see your creations in the comments below!

lxiv

Categories
Holidays Lifestyle

12 Days of Christmas: Easy Christmas Fudge

I love to bake during the Holiday season, but sometimes I don’t have all day to dedicate to baking. This was the case a couple of days ago before I hosted my “Cookies, Cocktails and Christmas Cheer” party with my cousins and aunts! I wanted to still make something home made, but didn’t have the time to make a full assortment of holiday baked goods. Solution? Easy and quick to make treats that will impress your guests! First up for Post #2 of #12DaysOfChristmas is Cookies & Cream Fudge!

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This recipe is only 3 ingredients! Yes, you read that correctly! So simply and such a crowd favourite! I followed the recipe from Hidden Ponies Blog, check out her version of the recipe here.

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What you’ll need:

  • 8″x 8″ round or square baking dish (I used round since that’s what I had and it worked just as good!)
  • Large bowl
  • Parchment paper
  • Spatula
  • Ingredients!

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 package Oreo Cookies (approx 20 Cookies), chopped

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, add the chocolate chips and can of condensed milk.
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  2. Place in microwave for 45 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir. img_1924
  3. Place back in microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir.
  4. Repeat step 3 until the mixture is smooth. DO NOT OVER MICROWAVE! (I only needed to repeat step 3 once!).
  5. Chop Oreo cookies. img_1926
  6. Add half of the chopped cookies to the bowl and combine.
  7. Line baking dish with parchment paper and pour mixture into dish.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining cookies on top of the mixture in the baking dish. Press down lightly to ensure they are firmly in the mixture. img_1931
  9. Place uncovered in the fridge overnight.
  10. Remove from dish, cut into pieces and serve!

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That’s it! Do you have a favourite fudge flavour? Or easy to make holiday recipe? Let me comments below!

lxiv

Categories
Holidays Lifestyle

The Best S’Mores Bar Recipe

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I’m sitting here dreaming of Christmas, and what better way to kick off the Holiday Season than by posting a yummy, cozy, gooey treat?! I adapted this recipe from Wine & Glue and made these on a whim! I am so happy with how they turned out. This is a simple recipe to follow and I break it down into three separate layers to complete the entire bar.

The final product is 100% messy to eat – but well worth it! I thought this would be a nice post before I kick off the 12 Days of Christmas here on lxiv. Christmas is absolutely one of my favourite times of the year. I love the cozy warm glow from the Christmas tree, to the crisp cool air and the hot beverage in a beautiful mug. It’s a time to bring people together and enjoy the company and laughter of others. Stay tuned for some fun DIY, Christmas decor, recipes, some collaborations and more!!

Follow along below to see how I made these tasty treats.

Graham Cracker Crust Ingredients

  • Graham crackers (enough to line your pan, then crush!)
  • 6 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Cookie Layer Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

Top Layer Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cup mini marshmallows

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9″ x 13″ baking pan with cooking spray or coat with butter or coconut oil.

Graham Cracker Crust:

  1. Crush the graham crackers (easiest way is to put them in a bag and use a rolling pin to crush them!).
  2. Mix together the crushed graham crackers, butter and sugar. Then press onto bottom of baking pan.

Cookie Layer:

  1. In a new bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking powder.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until creamy on medium speed with a hand or stand mixer for about two minutes.
  3. Add egg and vanilla until just combined. Next, add flour mixture until completely combined.
  4. Ensure you do not handle the cookie dough too much! You will need to spread the dough on top of the graham crust. This was the trickiest part! Work your way from the corners of the pan into the middle by spreading dough in your hands and gently pressing it on top of the crust. In other words, make mini pancakes by flattening the dough between your hands and place on top of the graham cracker crust. You cannot move or spread the cookie dough once placed, as it will start to lift the crust off of the pan. Another idea would be to pipe the dough onto the crust, using a clear plastic bag and cutting a little hole in the corner.

Top Layer:

  1. Next, spread the marshmallows and chocolate chips over the cookie dough. Then pour the condensed milk.
  2. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the marshmallows turn golden brown.
  3. Wait for the pan to cool before cutting! The bars are very crumbly, so don’t be surprised if they do not cut or serve perfectly.

Et, Voila! Yields approximately 20 squares (depending on the size you cut them!).

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What’s your favourite holiday dessert? Let me know in the comments below!

 

lxiv

Categories
Beauty Holidays Lifestyle Photography

Mermaid Makeup Look + Photoshoot

Looking for a last minute easy Halloween costume? Look no further! At the end of the summer my sister and talented photographer at Magic in Colours Photography, Christina, put together a ‘colour-bomb’ photoshoot. Each model had a theme and a colour story such as Galaxy (pink and purple) and Sunset (red, orange and yellow). My theme was Mermaid. AMAZING. With my love of makeup and doing makeup for others, I immediately volunteered to create the looks! The photos turned out so well. You should definitely take a look at her Facebook page to check out some of her other photography shoots!

Take a look below to see how they turned out along with instructions on how to recreate the look.
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As for the Mermaid makeup…here’s what you’ll need:

  • Aqua, turquoise, navy blue, green and purple eye shadow
  • Black eyeliner
  • Mascara
  • Fishnet Stockings
  • Highlighter
  • Blue lipstick (optional: I used the eye shadows to create the lip look!)

I started the look by creating a smokey blue eye, defining the lashes with eyeliner and then applying many coats of mascara. I then placed the fishnet stockings where I wanted to add the effect of scales and dusted a layer of light blue and then added deeper tones such as the green and purple. I found it easier to wet the brushes so that the eye shadow stuck well to my face! Once the scales were in place, I added a blue lip to tie the whole look together. Since I did not have any blue lipstick, I simply wet the eye shadows on the back of my hand with a lip brush and then applied directly to my lips. I added highlighter on the high points of my face and lightly over the scales to add some sheen and dimension.

For my hair, I wanted it to look wet and slicked back, as if I had just surfaced from the water (did I mention I have a really big imagination?). So I used gel and mousse to slick my hair back with a comb and hair sprayed it in place. I used a couple of bobby pins to keep some stray hairs from slipping out. But overall, the look was very simple to do.

The shots definitely speak for themselves! They turned out great.

Fun fact: the shoot took 10 times longer than planned because wasps were attracted to the colour bombs and we had to keep running away! Okay…I had to keep running away…they are my #1 fear!

For a more detailed guide on how to recreate this look check out this video here by one of my favourite beauty bloggers, Melissa Alatorre. Want the outfit too? Check out Lauren Conrad’s DIY post here.

What are some of your favourite Halloween costumes? Leave me a comment below!

Happy Halloween!

lxiv