Earlier this year, my friends Courtney and Shauna created a new business, Inspired Cravings, where they create unique edible designs for parties, showers and holidays. I’d seen pictures of their super colourful and fun designs, but it wasn’t until I went to our mutual friends’ housewarming party this weekend that I got to see them in action.

The big centerpiece of the food table was this large turkey with his fruit & cheese kabob feathers, sitting on a platter of crackers. So fun – just look at his pear head, ha!

This dip is a pumpkin-parmesan-sage cheese dip that was so good. I loved all the veggies displayed around it, and how they repurposed the pumpkin seeds by roasting them and putting them around the edge (one of my favourite parts. I love pumpkin seeds!) There was even a little LED candle inside the pumpkin that flickered!

This was such a cool idea – a giant pumpkin turned into a drink dispenser by drilling a hole and adding a spout! The drink of choice was a sparkling vodka apple cider, which was perfect for a chilly fall day.

These pumpkin spice cupcakes were so yummy and looked extra cute with the fall themed cupcake liners and picks. The little turkeys made from gourds were a nice touch! I don’t know how they come up with some of the ideas – like using mini potatoes as heads and red pepper tail feathers!

The pieces were great conversation starters, with guests oohing and ahhing at the displays. It’s like decor and food all in one!

Their Inspired Cravings Facebook page is full of pictures of some of their designs and lots of inspiration for creative food displays. There are some seriously talented ladies and I’m so excited to see them taking their creative side and finding a way to make it into a business that they love.

If you’re in the Greater Toronto Area and are looking for something fun for your next party or get together, check them out. I know they’re working on their holiday catalogue right now and I can’t wait to see what creations they come up with!

It’s been weeks in the making, but I’m super excited to be sharing my new Holiday Guide. Christmas is always my favourite time of year to be sharing on the blog, and I realized that over the past five years, I’ve written about Christmas projects, decor, movies, recipes and activities A LOT! Now they’re all in their own Holiday Guide, making it easier for you to find what you’re looking for. You can access each of the categories from the drop down menu, or by going through the guide.

I’ll also be adding to the Holiday Guide throughout the season, with new posts, gift guides, revisiting favourites, giveaways and my personal favourite – the 2014 Holiday Planner (coming very soon!). Be sure to check back often this holiday season for the updates!

Happy Friday!!! With Monday being Canadian Thanksgiving, it was only a four day work week for me – and it feels like this week has just flown by! I still feel like there is so much I need to accomplish. Do you ever have weeks like that? That you feel like you’ve done a lot but when you look back there is still lots to do?

Before I rushed out the door this morning, I wrote out a “to-do” list for tonight of all the things that I want/need to get done (like calling our internet provider, ordering new cheques online, etc)  – what a wild and crazy Friday night, right? As of right now I’m all pumped up to be productive when I get home, but I KNOW that the second I see Garrett and the pups, it’s going to be so hard to do anything but crash on the couch with them. I wish that my 10am “go get ‘em” attitude stayed with me right until bedtime. It’s times like that makes me wish I drank coffee!

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Halloween Necklace: Last year Garrett gave me this necklace for Christmas, because it reminded him of one we’d seen on our road trip to Salem last October. It’s unlike anything that I’ve seen before and I absolutely love it. The twisted tree design and harvest moon are so symbolic of our trip together.

Salem Revisited: Wearing the necklace today made me realize that it was exactly a year ago today that we were making our way to Salem. I can’t believe that it’s already been a year!

We had such a fantastic time scoping out the town, doing our own Hocus Pocus tour and visiting some of the historical locations too. If you ever get the chance to go to Salem around Halloween, I definitely recommend it!

(Side note – my hair is so long here! I know I only chopped it off in May, but I can’t remember it being like this.)

We also made a quick detour on the way home to see the Keene Pumpkin Festival in New Hampshire. So very cool…and made me wish that we had something like this closer to home.

And then we rounded it out with a stop into Wilmington, Vermont. It was the only B&B that wasn’t booked between New Hampshire and making our way home, which is why we stopped there, but in the end it was one of my favourite things we did on the trip. I’d love to go back and explore Vermont some more.

Talking about the trip this week got Garrett and I thinking about where we’d like to go next. I would LOVE to take him to New York City someday (he’s never been!). I went one summer and loved it, but I think it would be fun to go in the fall or around Christmastime. It always looks so beautiful in the movies. We’ve been brainstorming ideas for either another mini weekend getaway before the holidays or right afterwards. Just 3-4 days where we can get lost somewhere. Any suggestions for something in the Ontario/Upstate New York/Michigan area?

Apple Picking (or just Picking Up): Over the Thanksgiving Weekend, my mom and great aunt headed out for a drive along the lake and when they mentioned the possibility of stopping into an orchard to grab apples, I hopped right in.

We got a couple of baskets of Gala apples for munching and McIntosh for baking, and divvied them up between everyone. It made me think of all the years that my grandfather would bring us apples from Thornbury at Thanksgiving…including the year I took a whole suitcase of them back on a greyhound!

On the way back home, we saw eight wild turkeys walk across the road – didn’t they know that this is a bad weekend for turkeys to go trotting about?

And I finished off the Thanksgiving weekend with the last sliver of mom’s pumpkin pie. So so good.

Mini Cleaning Bursts: I’m sharing this because I know that there are probably others out there in the same boat. When I’m really busy (like I’ve been this week), I try to do all the cleaning/tidying up in the apartment in little bursts. Instead of just coming home and trying to amble my way through my list, I set the timer for 15 minutes – and in that time I can ONLY be doing that one task, instead of getting distracted by other things that need to get done.

I might set it for 15 minutes and then only be picking up and putting away stuff around the apartment in that time. Then the timer goes off, I reset it for another 15 minutes and in that time I take care of the kitchen (whether it’s cleaning out a cupboard, washing down the stove or doing a load of dishes). Another 15 minutes will be cleaning the bathroom, replacing towels and quickly going through the medicine cupboard to get rid of anything we don’t need anymore. The last 15 minutes might be doing another cleaning task, like vacuuming and sweeping all the floors. If I still have time on the clock, I’ll use our spray mop to go around the place.

Sometimes I’ll do it all within an hour, but other times I might just set the timer for 15 minutes in the morning before I leave for work and see what I can get done then. 15 minutes seems like nothing, but it can make a huge difference to my sanity in our crazy little apartment.

Technology Fails: I fully intended to have the Holiday Guide up and running yesterday, but we had a bit of a mishap this week. My beloved iMac, where I do all my graphic design work and page formatting, is on the fritz. We had a power outage last weekend and it seems to have fried the computer’s power source. I’ve been looking up solutions online and tonight Garrett and I are going to attempt to open it up to take a look. If that doesn’t work, it’s going to the computer doctor tomorrow morning : (  In the meantime, I’ve been able to download all my design programs onto the laptop so that I can keep this engine rolling.

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I hope you all have a lovely weekend

…also, any suggestions for some good Halloween movies? What are your favourites?

Last week I shared our friend’s Erin and Ben Napier’s beautiful 1925 craftsman home in Laurel, Mississippi, and today I’m excited to show you around the studio of their letterpress wedding stationery business, Lucky Luxe Couture Correspondence. We stopped by for a tour while on our Honeymoon Road Trip.

Before they moved into their yellow cottage two blocks away in the historic district, this loft was Erin and Ben’s first home as a married couple, but now it is the full-time home of their business. Lucky Luxe began as Erin’s side project and as it grew she was able to leave her cubicle job in the art department of a big corporation.

Now Lucky Luxe is an internationally acclaimed event and wedding stationery boutique that has been featured by Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides Magazine, WellWed Magazine, Mississippi Magazine, and many of the most respected wedding and design industry blogs and websites. With clients that include professional athletes, actors, major universities and rock bands like the Goo Goo Dolls and ZZ Top (as well as everyday folks!) you can see that their great design and southern hospitality pays off.

If I were to do our wedding invitations again, I’d definitely chose these Market grain sack invitations.

The 2,200 sq ft loft apartment was built around 1903, was a toothpaste factory after World War I and then a law office before Erin’s family bought the flatiron building and renovated it. The building is full of DIY projects, re-purposed materials, antiques and rustic finishes.

The floors are original 10″ wide planks, the walls are plaster and exposed brick, and their amazing eclectic art collection was found in various antique malls, on the side of the road, or created by Erin.

Erin spends the majority of her day here at her desk, designing invitations under the light from the massive 10′ windows facing Magnolia Street and a park below.

The kitchen now serves as a photo studio, with the morning sun proving to be the perfect natural light for photographing letterpress.

(more…)

Over the weekend Garrett was a total sweetheart and surprised me by cleaning all our baseboard heaters in the apartment while I was still up at my parents’ for Thanksgiving weekend. It was so nice to come home to a cozy apartment on Sunday night. It got me thinking about all the seasonal chores we have to do, as well as giving everything a thorough cleaning. I’m starting my deep clean now so that as the holiday season gets busier and busier, it’s one less thing to worry about. Then I’ll just need to keep the apartment fairly tidy and do my regular cleaning.

This Fall Cleaning Checklist is similar to my Spring Cleaning Checklist, but with some seasonally appropriate additions like updating your Emergency Kit, getting your car ready for winter and preparing for the impending snowy weather. Little things like changing air filters, checking the caulking around windows and replacing weather seals can make a big difference in your winter heating bills too.

Printable Version (PDF)

 

Some Helpful Tips:

1. Set Aside Time: Be realistic with how long it will take for your home’s size. A single weekend isn’t going to cut it. Break it up into a few weekends, or take on smaller tasks on weeknights. Make this a family affair and get everyone involved.

2. Make a Repair List as you go: You’ll find small repairs and touch ups as you go along, so keep a notepad with you to make a list for yourself (or in our case, our landlord). But don’t stop and take care of them right now – focus on getting the cleaning done first or you’ll get sidetracked.

3. Plan Easy Meals: Now is the time to dig out the slow cooker or use some freezer meals.

4. Set up “Donate”, “Repair” and “Return” Bins: As soon as you spot something for one of these bins, drop it in. Schedule a day to do returns, drop off donations and take things in for repairs you can’t do yourself.

5. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it all done: I honestly have never completed everything on the list, but I aim for 100% and usually fall at about 80%.

6. Blast Some Tunes: Get some great music playing while you’re working – I’ve been loving the playlists on Songza!

Be sure to check out some of my other Cleaning & Organizing posts for more helpful hints!

 

Happy Cleaning!

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