Our favourite Christmas dessert recipes!

Hi everyone,

Today, I’m going to share with you a few recipes of our favourtie Christmas desserts that we’ve been making annually for about 5 years now.

I’ll start with my favourite recipe, Martha Stewart’s Mint-Chocolate Brownies. OMG this recipe is to die for and they are a chocolate lovers dream. I don’t know what it is about Martha but all of her dessert recipes are the best!

Mint-Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients:

  • One stick of unsalted butter (8 tbs)
  • 8 ounces semisweet or bitter sweet chocolate, whichever you prefer
  • One cup of sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 25 small peppermint patties (these MAKE this recipe)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter and line your 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper and then butter the parchment paper.
  2. Place chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir for about 4-5 mins until chocolate is melted.
  3. Remove from the heat and whisk in your sugar and salt until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in eggs and then gently whisk in flour and cocoa powder until smooth.
  4. Spread 1/3 of your batter in your pan. Place peppermint patties on top of the batter in a single layer, making sure to leave a border on all sides. Note: I can never find the mini peppermint patties so I use the large ones.
  5. Top the peppermint patties with the remaining batter and smooth the surface.
  6. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Approximately 35-40 minutes.
  7. Cool the brownies completely before cutting brownies.

Yields: 16 delicious brownies

My second favourite recipe is a cookie recipe by Trisha Yearwood that I found on the Food Network’s website. WARNING: they are super sweet so this recipe is good for those who have a real sweet tooth.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate hips
  • 3/4 cup macadamia nuts

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.
  2. Using your electric mixer, cream the butter with both sugars until smooth. Add your vanilla and egg, making sure to mix well.
  3. Sift together the flour and baking soda. Spoon the flour mixture into the creamed sugar mixture.
  4. Stir in your cranberries, white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.
  5. Drop large spoonfuls, about 2 tbs, of dough on prepared baking sheets and bake one sheet at a time for 12-15 minutes.
  6. Note: we aren’t the biggest fans of macadamia nuts but they go very well in this recipe.

Yields: 24 cookies

Last, but not least, is a recipe for bark brought to you by the blog browneyedbaker. The fun thing about bark is that you can put whatever ingredients you want in them, so you should totally try modifying this recipe and using your favourite nuts or dried fruit.

 

Pistachio and Cranberry White Chocolate Bark 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2lb white chocolate
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Method:

  1. Line your baking sheet with your silpat or parchment.
  2. Melt your chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwavable bowl for 30 seconds at a time in the microwave.
  3. Once the chocolate has melted, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add pistachios and cranberries and stir to combine.
  5. Spread the chocolate mixture onto your prepared pan and place in the fridge for at least 20 mins, until set, and then cute into pieces. (Note: I prefer freezing it and then cutting/breaking the bark into pieces).

The great thing about all of these recipes is that you can freeze them and take them out when you feel like a treat or when you’re hosting. We plan on baking each of these this weekend. Make sure to stop by my Instagram account, lovelylife.xo to see pics.

If you decide to try one of these out, please let me know what you think of them by leaving a comment below. I’d also love to hear about your favourite Christmas dessert recipes, if you have any 🙂 .

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Talk soon,

Ash

Le Baccara – What a treat!

Hey guys,

Hope you’re having a great week! Can you believe that it’s December already! I don’t know about you but I’m ready and excited for the last month of the year. Along with December, comes Christmas and Christmas outings. The following is just one of many.

Last weekend, we had the pleasure of joining our friends, George and Chels for dinner at Le Baccara, a 5 diamond restaurant located in the Casino Lac-Leamy and what an experience it was. I had been to the Casino several times before but it had been at least 10 years and I definitely didn’t experience it like this. 

As soon as we pulled up, I was in awe at how beautifully decorated the hotel and lobby were for the Christmas season. The grandeur of all of the decorations and trees was breathtaking.

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We started our evening at the Bacchus bar equipped with fabulous glass tables, large leather seats and an impressive, to say the least, fireplace. It was the perfect spot to sit and catch up over a cocktail. We sipped on a bottle of Champagne and caught up on our weeks. Not a bad way to end a busy week and kick start the evening right ;).

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Next stop was dinner at Le Baccara. We walked though the casino and past this beautiful tree.

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Isn’t it breathtaking? WOW. 

The experience was fabulous from the start. As soon as we arrived, we were promptly escorted to our tables and within a matter of minutes, we were served champagne. We spent the next 45 mins sipping on it, in large comfy chairs knowing that we had a delicious meal ahead of us.

As for the meal, we enjoyed a six course meal. Each course was beautifully presented and paired with the perfect glass of wine. The service was fabulous and our sommelier, Danielle Dupont, was impeccable. She was able to describe our wines beautifully and was extremely knowledgeable which was great for Julien and George who love to ask plenty of questions about what they’re eating and drinking ;).

Our first course was by far my favourite. It was a beef carpaccio that was to die for. It was like no other. As you can see, it offered many elements, including sliced truffles. #yum

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Our second dish was a lobster tail, with tete fromagee (my apologies for the missing accents. I need to figure out how to use them on my new Chromebook).

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What I love about these dinning experiences, is that I get try foods I wouldn’t necessarily try or cook myself. Although I am not a picky eater, I enjoyed the lobster tail but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the tete fromagee (made with pigs feet). Maybe it’s an acquired taste ;)? Although it wasn’t my favourite part of the meal, I have to say that it was beautifully presented and very flavourful.

Next was a foie gras poele. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the actual foie gras lol but it’s because I was so blown away by its presentation as it arrived at the table :).

It was served with a glass of Sauterne. As you can see, Chels and I approved ;).

Next on the menu was a seared scallop with octopus. This scallop was cooked to perfection and delicious!!! Although I love scallops, I haven’t been brave enough to cook them myself. I find that there’s a fine line when cooking them. If you sear them too long, they’re chewy but if you don’t cook them enough they’re slimy. As for the octopus, it looked beautiful but I wasn’t a fan. Perhaps it too will grow on me ;).

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Second to last was pheasant with a potato puree and a baked apple stuffed with raisins. This dish was my second favourite. I had never had pheasant before and it was delicious. I highly recommend it for those who haven’t yet tried it. The veggies and potato puree were lovely but the stuffed apple offered a unique touch. It was sweet, almost like a dessert, and paired beautifully with the pheasant. Original and super tasty.

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Last, but not least, was dessert. By then, we were full and I forgot to take a picture. Yep, I’m totally regretting having not taken a picture but I’ve learned from my mistake 😉 and won’t forget next time we’re out. It was a baked apple served on top of a homemade cookie. 

Overall, this evening was spectacular from start until finish. Le Baccara is definitely worth the 5 starts that it’s earned and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to celebrate an important milestone such as a birthday or anniversary. On top of all of this, they were very understanding of my gluten allergy and ensured that each of my dishes were GF. Merci Le Baccara!

For those who have been to Le Baccara, what did you think of this restaurant and what was your favourite dish? 

That’s all for now! Hope you have a fabulous weekend.

Talk soon xo

The best ever chocolate chip cookies!

Hey fellow chocolate and cookie lovers!

Do you have a favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe? Either way, you HAVE to try this recipe out! I wish I could say that I came up with it myself but I didn’t 😉 I owe a big thank you to Martha Stewart for this one. Like most of her baked goods, this one is insanely good.

I’ve been making this recipe for 7 years now and, even though I am GF, I will continue to make them for my family since they’re their favourite. I have challenged myself though to try to find a GF alternative. It hasn’t happened yet but if and when it does, I will make sure to share it with you.

So here’s my secret/not so secret recipe for Martha Stewart’s soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies:

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup brown sugar…I know, it’s a lot. I usually use 3/4cup of brown sugar max but it’s up to you and how sweet you like your cookies
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips (although I love chocolate, I find 2 cups a little much so I usually add a little over one cup)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda and set aside
  3. In a bowl with an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars
  4. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy
  5. Reduce speed to low, add the salt, vanilla, and eggs
  6. Beat until well mixed (about one minute)
  7. Add flour mixture, mix until just combined
  8. Make tbs size balls of dough and place them on your baking sheets

9. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges (approx 8-10 minutes)

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*Note: this recipe makes approx. 3 dozen cookies.

Of course, my little helper helped baked these sweet treats. We happened to make them last Sunday after the snowfall so we, of course, made hot chocolate and enjoyed it while the cookies were cooking in the oven.

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Hope you guys enjoy this recipe. If you try it out, please let me know what you think and if you have any favourite recipes, especially GF ones, I would love to know about them so please leave a comment or msg me.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

xo

 

“Winter is coming” – Are you ready?

Hey guys,

November has arrived, along with its cooler weather, brrr! Are you ready for winter? Lucky for me, having little ones means that I have to get my butt in gear and make sure that they are well dressed for the cooler weather but, like most parents, that doesn’t mean that I’m ready.

After wearing the same Tommy Hilfiger jacket for 7 years, and through two pregnancies, I finally decided to splurge and buy myself a new coat. Afterall, I’m going to Banff next month and “need” a new coat to keep warm 😉 The only thing is that I didn’t have the time to endlessly browse through the malls to find the perfect jacket, until this week… For those who follow my Instagram account, lovelylifexo, you already know about this but, for those who don’t, Julien and I were supposed to go to Le Nordik Monday but weren’t able to because it was packed. Rather than spending the day at the spa doing nothing but relaxing, we ended up doing some Christmas shopping and Julien convinced me to look around for a winter jacket and, of course, we found one.

We stopped at Bayshore to check out what they had to offer. Don’t you find that shopping for a practical winter jacket is like jean shopping? The shopping experience can be long and painful but once you find the right pair or coat it’s unbelievably satisfying. Especially when your husband is the one encouraging you to make the purchase 😉 thanks babe.

Our first stop was the Bay. Do you know how many jackets they have there? Tons but most of them were the same style and not what I was looking for. Like most purchases, I was trying to find something a little different and unique. Our next stop was the Coat co, Reitmans and, of course, my favourite store Zara but none offered an affordable, warm and stylish coat. It wasn’t until we went to Aritzia that I found “the one.”

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I was hoping to buy a maroon coloured jacket and managed to find one. I know that Aritzia’s winter jackets are super popular but I had never tried them on. Until this year 😉 Exciting news is that they are offering new styles and they are fabulous!!!

After trying on a few, I ended up buying the Babton Harrison parka brought to you by Aritzia! How fabulous is this jacket :)!? It provides warmth until minus 30 and literally feels like you’re wearing a duvet when you put this jacket on.

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It’s the details that make this jacket amazing:

  • It’s 100% responsibly sourced goose down;
  • It’s made of both water and windproof exterior fabric;
  • It has a real faux fur hood lining and trim and is made of luxe vegan fur with an authentic look and feel; and
  • The pockets are fleece-lined and so warm and cozy.

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The only con I see with this jacket is that it is almost too warm. I haven’t been able to wear it yet but I look forward to doing so during our trip to Banff next month. I think it will be perfect for the wintery occasion. An added bonus is that this jacket is stunning and is offered in both black and maroon.

So, if you are looking for a new winter jacket I suggest you stop by Aritzia to see what they have to offer this year. They have their traditional style but a few new ones as well. The only thing I have left to buy are some new and warm gloves. If you have any suggestions on where I can find some, please let me know.

For those who live in Ottawa, I hope that you’re ready for winter since it’s supposed to feel like minus 10 Friday morning and we’re supposed to get snow over the weekend. Stay warm!!!

Talk soon,

Ash xo

 

 

 

BRCA 2 Positive – Now what?

Hey everyone,

Today’s post is more serious than the others. As most of you know, the motivation behind this blog is my amazing mom and being able to connect with others who may be going through a similar situation. In addition to this, my goal is to encourage everyone to focus on the positive things in life. We all encounter difficult times throughout our lives and, although we may not want to, we have to find ways to accept them. I have SO much to be thankful and grateful for in my life and I owe a lot of it to my mom.

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Mother and daughter xo

So, let’s get to it. As many of you know, my mom was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer in February of this year. Since, she has undergone major debulking surgery, recovery, and chemo. Since her last chemo session late spring, she had an amazing and healthy 4 months chemo free AND at her last oncologist appointment, last month, we found out that her cancer is currently dormant. I’m not religious but I thank whatever power is out there watching over her and our family! Her CA125 cancer markers (the marker used to measure ovarian cancer) haven’t increased and remain well under the normal range. This news couldn’t have been better. I can’t describe how it feels to wait for these appointments. Not knowing what the results will be. The anxiety I feel waiting for the news can be awful but we are SO grateful that the news was positive and that her body and cancer responded well to the chemo they gave her 🙂 !!!

When mom was diagnosed in February, we were told that because she had had breast cancer 10 years ago and now ovarian cancer that she could be tested for the BRCA genetic mutation if she wished and free of charge. Testing for this is very expensive therefore it isn’t available to everyone, especially since only 1.2 percent of Canadian women are at risk of getting ovarian cancer and an even smaller percentage of those carry a BRCA genetic mutations.

Do you know what this genetic mutation is? If not, I will explain but maybe you will remember the (what some call) radical surgery Angelina Jolie had after finding out that her mom, who passed away from ovarian cancer, carried this genetic mutation. Angelina decided to have a double mastectomy in response to finding out that her mom carried the BRCA 1 gene. Why, you may ask, well because those who do carry a BRCA 1 or 2 genetic mutation have an increased risk of getting both breast and ovarian cancer.

Being the mother of two daughters, my mom decided to follow-through with the genetic testing. We were told that it would take 3 months but it ended up being close to 6. Last Friday, we had her follow-up appointment. I can’t begin to tell you how nervous I was for this appointment. I knew that there was a small chance that she would carry it and, that if that was the case, my sister and I would have some decisions to make but it wasn’t until her genetics doctor actually said the words “you ARE BRCA2 positive” that everything really hit me. I knew this was a real possibility but until it was actually confirmed, I guess I was hoping otherwise. I understandably burst into tears. Mom, however, felt a sense of relief. Now, she knew that her girls would be tested annually (MRI and mammogram) and that we would be provided with surgical options if we wanted to embark on those journeys. She is the most selfless person I know. Always thinking about us before herself.

What do these results mean for mom:

  • The not so great news is that she is 85% likely to have breast cancer. The good news is that now that they know this, they will continue to monitor her annually which is relieving.
  • Other good news is that because she has a BRCA 2 genetic mutation, they are able to offer her additional treatments for her cancer if it awakens. This news couldn’t have made us happier :).
  • Lastly, the results gave mom a sense of relief knowing that she didn’t just have bad luck. Rather, her cancers were/are the result of a genetic mutation.

What do these results mean for my sister and I:

Well, mom’s results mean that we have a 50% chance of carrying the BRCA2 genetic mutation. As a result, we have the choice of being tested ourselves, free of charge. To some, I’m sure that this would be a difficult decision. For myself, it’s a no brainer since messing with ovarian cancer is no joke. I’ve decided to go ahead with the testing, which involves simple blood work, and it will take between 1-2 months for my results.

So what does it mean if the results come back positive for my sister or I? Well, it means that we will have a 50-85% chance of having breast cancer and 10-30% chance of getting ovarian cancer (compared to the general population’s percentage which is 1.2%). Also, we will have the choice of undergoing a double mastectomy and partial or total hysterectomy now or just prior to menopause (which is what is recommended).

Although scary, all of the above is positive news for my sister and I. It means that we will have options and I’m so thankful for that and being able to tackle this decision well informed. I, like Angelina, am approaching this more aggressively. If my results come back positive, I am choosing to undergo a double mastectomy and reconstruction as soon as possible and a hysterectomy well before menopause. Saying I was going to do this, prior to mom’s results, was one thing, but knowing that this may be a real possibility now makes everything more real. But, if my mom was able to fight and beat breast cancer in 2006 and undergo everything she encountered this year, then I can do this. I owe it to myself and my children who will also have a 50% chance of carrying this genetic mutation if I do. Even our son.

Moving forward, I will keep you guys posted on the results and what happens next. For those of you who out there who are living through a similar situation, know that you are not alone. That you are strong and loved and that no matter what we will get through this. Life is a gift and sometimes we are dealt unexpected cards but we have to be grateful for all that is good in life and enjoy every moment to the fullest.

Today, and every day I am grateful for my amazing life. For my husband and kids. My sister, friends and my mom who made the person that I am today.

 

What are you grateful for? 🙂

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Sending  positive energy and love out to everyone xox

 

 

 

Gluten Free Oatmeal and Raisin Muffins

Happy Friday!

Hope everyone had a great week and an even better Halloween! Just a note that this post is one of two up on the blog today. If you’re interested in knowing what my favorite facial products are, please check out my other post A review of my favourite facial products.

For those who don’t know, I’ve recently been diagnosed with a gluten intolerance and then, after running more tests, as either partially treated celiac or Crohns. Unfortunately, my GI doctor wasn’t able to diagnose it as one or the other but highly recommend that I start a gluten-free (GF) diet so I’ve decided to do so. I’ve only recently started going GF and let me tell ya, this is no easy task lol Well, not for me anyway.

I’m happy to report that I have been GF for a little over a week now. Although I’m struggling with not being able to enjoy my Costco size bread for breakfast or my Ace baguette with anything and everything that is spreadable 😉 I’ve found a few tasty GF breakfast options. One of them being a nice GF muffin recipe that I’m going to share with you below. Please note that I was inspired by a recipe I found on the blog Abbey’s Kitchen. I used her recipe for her Ultimate GF oatmeal muffins as inspiration and tweaked it a bit. Here it is:

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup lactose-free milk (we use 3% b/c that’s what our daughter drinks)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil or butter
  • 1 cup all purpose gluten free flour mix
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
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Oatmeal and raisin muffins

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin tin with 12 muffin papers.
  2. Slowly melt your coconut oil in the microwave. Once melted, let it cool down before using. Although I enjoy the taste of coconut oil,  I don’t always want to taste it in certain recipes. Next time, I will use butter.
  3. Using a mixer, mix your eggs, brown sugar, and lactose-free (or regular) milk. Once the ingredients are well-mixed, add in your cooled coconut oil.
  4. Then add your flour, oats, raisins, baking powder, baking soda and a pinch of salt to the wet ingredients. Mix until well blended.
  5. Pour batter into prepared muffin papers and bake in the oven for 22-25 minutes (depending on your oven).
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Oatmeal and raisin muffins

My son and I made these muffins and decided to only make 12 in case we didn’t like the recipe. I’m happy to report that the whole family enjoyed them so I regretted that we hadn’t made more. Also, Julien was working when we made these muffins so he had no idea they were GF. He ate two for breakfast the next day and was surprised to find out that they were. He had no clue.

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Oatmeal and raisin muffins

If you have any favourite GF recipes I would LOVE to hear about them so please do feel free to share them with me.  Finally, another shoutout to Abbey’s Kitchen for sharing her recipe for GF oatmeal muffins. I look forward to discovering more dishes on your blog.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Bon appétit!

 

 

 

A review of my favorite facial products

Happy Friday Everyone!!!

Hope you had a fabulous week and Halloween! Our son absolutely loved every minute of Halloween and like all great parents, we are enjoying the benefits of having all of his chocolate and chips in the house ;).

I once again couldn’t decide on one post for this week so I decided to publish two. I’ m dedicating this post to five of my favourite products that I use on my face and the other post to a recent Oatmeal and raisin GF muffin recipe that I made.

I don’t know about you, but I have struggled my entire life with finding the perfect face wash, makeup remover, lotion and eye cream. Well folks, I’m happy to report that I’ve found a few products that I absolutely love and a couple of them may shock you as they are super affordable.

Since my teens, I’ve always had problem skin. It’s very dry and I continue (and probably will always have) hormonal acne. Damn hormones! I’m sure that some of you can relate to this. ..right? 😉 I thought this would go away with age or maybe after having kids but to be honest it’s only worsened. Not fair!

For those who have similar issues with their skin, I hope that some of my skin care secrets help you out and if you have any tips or product suggestions for me I would love to hear about them.

So here are the products that I’m currently using on my face daily:

1. Face Wash: Nivea’s refreshing foaming cleanser 

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Nivea refreshing foaming cleanser

I always start by washing my face with Nivea’s refreshing foaming cleanser. I’ve used so many products on my face since my teens and only came across this cleanser about a year ago and LOVE IT! It does an excellent job at cleaning my skin and removing my makeup and it also doesn’t dry it out or leave a residue on it. More importantly (and I may regret saying this lol) I’ve NEVER reacted to it.

Even better, it only costs $10. I remember my mom using their products when my sister and I were young and I never really gave them a try until I was older and I’m happy that I did. Like I’ve said before, mom usually knows best ;). For all of these reasons, I give this product a 10/10 and highly recommend that you try it out.

2. Makeup remover: Clean and Clear cleansing makeup wipes

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Clean&Clear Facial Cleansing wipes

Once I’m done washing my face, I wipe away the leftover makeup with these wipes which surprisingly work like a charm. Why surprisingly, well I’ve always associated clean and clear products with back to school adds when I was in elementary and high school lol “clean and clear and under control.” Does anyone else remember those adds lol?

The awesome thing about these is that they actually work. I wipe each eye once or twice and the makeup comes off effortlessly. Another bonus is that this product isn’t oily, it leaves your skin feeling nourished and there’s no need to rinse after use. Finally, an added bonus is that it’s super affordable costing around $10 depending on where you buy it. These Clean and Clear cleansing wipes are an absolute fav and I highly recommend that you try them out as well. Because of these reasons, I give this product a 10/10 as well.

3. Eye creamKiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Eye-Brightening Concentrate 

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Kiehls Powerful-Stregth Line-Reducing Eye-Brightening Concentrate

After washing my face and removing my makeup, I dab a little bit of Kiehl’s Powerful- Srength Line-Reducing Eye-Brightening Concentrate. I’ve only tried a couple eye creams in the last few years but this one is my favourite so far. I find that after using it for a couple of days I can notice improvements in the skin around my eyes. They become brighter and the dark circles lessen. I’m onto my second bottle of this product now so I would say that I’m pretty happy with it but I would love to hear any recommendations you have regarding any line reducing and eye brightening creams. I would give this product a 7/10.

I’m looking forward to trying others, once this bottle is empty, to see if there’s anything else out there that I’d love more.

4. Lotion #1: Clarin’s HydraQuench Lotion SPF 15 – Normal to combination skin

Finally, once I have washed my face, removed my makeup and applied my eye lotion I apply lotion all over my face (of course, in an upward motion ;)). I’ve always been a lover of products made by Clarins. My mother-in-law started me on them years ago and I’m so grateful for that. Merci Mona 😉 The bad news is that they’re no longer selling my favourite daily moisturizer. I went to buy it this summer and found out that they’ve replaced it with this HydraQuench Lotion with SPF 15. Unfortunately, I’m sad to report that I’m not a fan of this lotion. Although it’s light and hydrating, my skin always breaks out after I use it for two or more days. I was very surprised by this since I had never reacted to their products before. I guess that this new product just isn’t a good match for me. I still use it but I rotate it along with Clarin’s Beauty Flash Balm which is AMAZING!!! I swear by this product. See review below.

I give this lotion a 5/10 because it does go on lightly and you don’t have to use much but unfortunately, I won’t be buying it again since it makes my skin breakout. Below is a picture of it along with the Beauty Balm.

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Clarins HydraQuench Lotion and Clarins Beauty Flash Balm

5. Lotion #2 – MY ABSOLUTE FAV – Clarin’s Beauty Flash Balm (brightens and tightens)

Ok, this product is by far my favourite cream of all time and you have to try it. I was told that it isn’t supposed to be used daily since it’s more of a pick me up cream and is meant to be used “when needed” but if I could I would 🙂 Why? Well, it’s because I actually notice a difference in my skin as soon as I use it. This beauty flash balm is supposed to brighten and tighten and that it does. When I apply it to my skin I feel its effect right away. My skin immediately looks more alive and much brighter. Being the mom of two kids under the age of 4 and having just returned to work both my skin and myself are a little tired once and a while lol and could use a pick me up. This balm goes on thicker than the Hydraquench cream, however, it doesn’t feel thick once applied and more importantly it doesn’t cause my skin to react. Actually, I’ve never reacted to this.

This product runs for $50 and is worth every dollar. For all of the reasons above,  I give this product a 10/10 and look forward to continuing to use it. Oh, I forgot to mention, the only downside (which doesn’t affect my rating, is that it doesn’t contain an SPF).

Well, that’s what I’m using on my face. I would LOVE to hear about your favourite facial cleansers or creams so please take the time to let me know in a comment.

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

Talk soon,

Ash

Saunders Farm – An absolute MUST for Halloween lovers!

Hey everyone,

Hope you’re having a great week so far! As you know, Halloween is just around the corner and for us Halloween lovers out there this is exciting. My family and I have always been huge Halloween lovers and lucky for me our son is as well. Rain, shine or snow my mom took my sister and I trick or treating every year. I remember there being a few years where it rained all night but mom never kept us in. Worst case scenario, she drove along the way so that we could jump in and out of the car as need be lol As for my dad, well he is a HUGHalloweenen lover as well. He especially likes to decorate. As kids, he would always set up a strobe light, Halloween music and hand out the best chocolate and candies. To this day, he still calls me if Hocus Pocus (my absolute FAVOURITE halloween movie) is on TV. FYI though Papa G. There’s no need for you to call anymore. We bought it for $14 on the play station this week. I KNOW! You’re probably thinking that we paid way too much lol but it was worth it. Our son was begging us to watch it so we went for it.

As previously mentioned, our son is also a huge Halloween lover. He loves MJs thriller and anything witch or skeleton related so I decided to take him to Saunders Farm this year. He isn’t quite four years old yet so I wasn’t sure if he was too young to go but it turns out he was the perfect age for it.

Lucky for us, my parents-in-law (Mona and Paul) joined us. We planned to go for 10am when it opened and to my surprise, it was already packed. Good news is that despite there being a line-up to get in, the parking lot was very organised and there was a lot of room available. For those who don’t know, you can buy your tickets online and present them once you get there. I’m not sure that it speeds things up but you do get a bit of a discount if you buy them ahead of time.

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Below is a picture of the entrance to Saunders Farm. How stunning are the colours of the leaves? Beautiful aren’t they. Both the drive there and the farm itself were stunning. Fall is such a beautiful season.

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Although it was pretty packed, the farm wasn’t too overcrowded. We could easily walk through and we weren’t bumping into people. Our first stop was, of course, the barn of terror:

At first, I thought that this was a good idea. How scary could it be lol My daughter and I parked the stroller at the exit and waited for my son and in-laws. We must have waited at least 15 minutes for them to make their way through. During this time, I could hear screaming, loud spooky music, and what sounded like banging on the walls. I especially started regretting letting him in once I saw a couple kids crying as they left the barn lol Good news is that most of the kids came out smiling and laughing and our son came out asking to go in again. I guess he enjoyed it 😉 Apparently, they didn’t get through the whole thing though because someone was scared…not sure if it was Noah or Mimi 😉 but Noah surely went back one last time with his Papi before leaving.

Past the Barn of Terror was a kids heaven. We enjoyed the barnyard treehouse, the discovery barn and princess playhouse. This was probably the busiest part of the farm. It was filled with kids running through the treehouses and down the slides.

Then it was off to the ghost town stage. Now this was a tad creepy. A clown greeted us at the entrance. The kids weren’t too sure about her lol but they were happy to go through the exhibit.

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Spoiler alert: to our relief, nothing jumped out at us while walking through the maze. Next on the list of things to do was the haunted hayride and this was by far the most fun and SO worth the wait. I remember going to Saunders when I was in high school and everyone knew that at some point on the hayride a man would run out and chase everyone with a chainsaw. Well, things have improved during the last decade lol this hayride is a lot scarier than I remember and so much fun. There must have been at least three people who ran after us at some point, yelling, zombie walking or chasing us with a chainsaw or shovel. The ride was also a lot faster than I had remembered. I was clinging on to baby girl for dear life lol and Papi had a tight grip on his grandson. I don’t want to give all of their spooky effects but let me tell you there were MANY along the way and I can totally see how this ride would be petrifying at night. I tried convincing Julien to go with me this week but after going to see It with his dad, last week, I think he has reached his limit of creepy events lol.

I spent about an hour and a half there with the kids and Mona and Paul but had to leave early for baby girl’s nap. Lucky for our son, my in-laws stayed with him and he enjoyed the rest of what the farm had to offer as well as some apple pie for lunch ;).

Overall, Saunders Farm was totally worth the visit and $20 each. It was a lot bigger than I had remembered and very organized despite the large crowds. There was a lot to do, festival food throughout and it met my expectations. I would definitely recommend bringing your kids during the day. I think a nighttime visit would be terrifying for kids my age lol but if you are looking for a good scare for yourself and your friends you should totally check it out.

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How will you be celebrating Halloween? Going to any events or parties? Did you make it out to Saunders Farm? If so, what did you think?

Hope you have a fabulous weekend and an even better Halloween.

Happy Halloween!!!

 

Fall Style Favourites!

Welcome back!

I don’t know about you but I’m a hot weather kinda gal. I love summer and I love hot weather BUT I also welcome fall and the cozy sweaters and boots that accompanies it. It’s nice to get back into your favourite baggy sweaters, ankle boots and wear fall coloured nail polish and makeup.

Last fall, when I was off on maternity leave, I picked up these beautiful knee high camel coloured boots but haven’t had a chance to wear them yet. I’m looking forward to being able to rock them soon.

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They’re the perfect colour and I love the heel. In my younger days 😉 I loved a higher heel but nowadays I welcome a medium hight heel.

I’m also looking forward to wearing some of my closed toe pumps. How cute are these navy and grey pumps from Zara. Check out the cute detail on the heel of the Navy pump. Love! I’ve come to realize that Zara is by far my favourite store. They offer the cutest styles at affordable prices. If I could, I would own everything they have.

 

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I can’t believe that I’m going to share this lol but I hadn’t been to the Rideau centre in literally almost a year and a half until recently. Two weeks ago, I decided to bus over on my lunch hour and couldn’t believe the changes. My first stop was Zara, of course, but I didn’t know that it had move. Not only that though, it’s now two floors YESSSS. I shopped the top floor first and only found a few items. I asked the girl at the cash if there was another floor and she said yep. I almost went into a frenzy when I made my way down. The store is beautiful and I wanted it all! I only have an hour at lunch so I had to shop quickly. I choose several things to try on and of course loved them all. I wish that I could report that I bought them all 😉 but I did treat myself to a few beautiful pieces. The first is this stylish light grey sweater coat:

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How cute is this coat? It’s super cozy and looks super cute over jeans and work clothes. It’s also a lovely piece for the fall since you can layer over and under it. Even better, this sweater coat was crazy affordable. Guess how much it cost? Go on…take a guess 😉 It was only $50! A total a steal right!?

I also treated myself to two new blouses which I’m in love with. I wasn’t sure if they were a little too out there but they’re FABULOUS. I wore them this week and felt great in them. The first is a floral print, long sleeved blouse with a faux velvet collar and giant bow tie. How stunning is this piece:

 

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The second top I picked up is a cream coloured classic blouse with a twist. It has ruffles down the centre, pointed shoulders, and a collar that ties into a lovely bow down the middle:

 

Overall, I was happy to have found a few pieces in the short visit I had at Zara and I’m looking forward to the next one where I will hopefully have more time to browse through what they have to offer.

What are some of your favourite styles for fall? Any fellow Zara lovers out there? If so, I’d love to hear about any recent purchases or finds that you’ve picked up and love.

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend. If you’re interested in trying out a new fall recipe for a side dish please check out my new post on a new roasted carrots recipe I tried out this week.

Talk soon!

Ash

Roasted carrots!

Hey all,

Now that fall is upon us, I’ve been trying to make more fall dishes. Here’s an easy and quick side dish that I made this week to go along with our beer butt chicken. I picked up these beautiful multi-coloured carrots from our local grocery store. Talk about an inexpensive side ;).

First, I peeled the carrots and cut off their tips. Then I cut them in half and lined them up for a nice picture lol

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I usually make our roasted carrots with maple syrup because, why not, but I decided to try something different. This time I tossed my peeled and cut carrots in a bowl with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh rosemary, garlic and salt and pepper. Warning: the aroma from simply tossing these few ingredients together is awesome!

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I then lined them up on my silpat lined baking sheet and roasted them in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. The end result was fabulous!

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These guys were so flavourful, even the kids enjoyed them. Ok, they may not have loved them 😉 but our son ate a few so that was a small parent win especially since getting him to eat a vegetable other than avocado, potatoes or soups with vegetables seems like an impossible task.

So, if you’re looking to try something new with your carrots why don’t you give this recipe a try and please let me know what you think. It’s quick, easy and super delicious.

What kinds of fall sides have you been making lately?

Talk soon,

Ash