Sunday, 24 November 2013

My Christmas Gift Guide

Well, it is almost time to think about Christmas shopping! For many of you, this may  have already begun, but for the rest of us, we'll be running around for most of the month of December trying to find the perfect gifts. Since next week is Black Friday / Cyber Monday, and when I plan to do a big chunk of my holiday shopping, I thought I would pull together a list of some of my favorite holiday gifts for this year.

Last year, I tried my best to buy as much as I could from local artisans and Etsy shop owners and actually purchased most of my gifts online. Saved me from having the headache of entering the shopping mall which I absolutely loved! This year, my goal again is to try and purchase most of my gifts online - which is why I love Cyber Monday oh so much!

Here are the items that are topping my shopping list this year

1. Infinity Scarf from EcoShag
I absolutely love Tania's scarves. I own several myself and think they make the perfect gift for any women on your shopping list. I wear my scarves almost everyday! Tania offers amazing colour choices, beautifully soft fabrics and if you watch her site, she is always offering great sales!!

2. Leg Warmers from GraceandLaceCo
I have secretly been admiring these leg warmers for months and I think they are also finding their way onto my personal holiday wish list. They would look amazing on their own with a great pair of tights or jeans and just add the right touch to a great pair of boots. Fabulous for the picky teenager or college student.

3. Handmade Cheese Markers by nelledesign
If you have someone on your holiday list who loves to host a great party, then these are an absolute must. I fell in love with these handmade cheese markers a few weeks ago and just knew that they would be a great gift. They are unique, one of kind and handmade - a really amazing gift for a boss, co-worker or that fabulous chef in your family!

 4. Handcrafted Vegan Bath Set by Herbivore Botanicals
Every woman loves to take time to pamper themselves (and if they don't, they need to start!) This shop offers a beautiful selection of handmade, natural plant based products that smell amazing and make you feel fabulous. This gift set is a no brainer!

5. Beautiful Holiday Decorations from Smile Mercantile
This shop offers the most unique and beautiful gifts for the holiday lover on your list. Everything is handmade with care and comes beautifully packaged. I simply adore her creations! 

6. Gourmet BBQ rub kit from purpose design
For the man in your life or the griller in your house, this makes for a wonderful gift. These rubs are fabulous and taste amazing. This Montreal based shop also offers salts, spice kits and organic teas. 

Phew! These are just but a few of my favorites and I hope you'll check them out. As always, for the vintage lover in your life, you can find unique gift ideas in my shop - Coco&Bear Vintage!

If you haven't tried shopping online for the holidays, I strongly suggest you try it this year! Cyber Monday is fast approaching and you can find amazing deals from some fabulous shops. I'll be wearing my pj's for most of my holiday shopping this year - no malls for me!

Happy Shopping and please share some of your favorite holiday gift ideas!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Gluten Free Product Review #1

Purely Bulk Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix

Being a gluten free foodie means that I am always on the look out for new and tasty products. Not all gluten free products are alike and some definitely taste better than others. It has taken me quite some time to find the products that I like the most but am always up for trying something new. I get very excited when I see a new gluten free product at the grocery store.

A few weeks ago, my fiancee brought home some new products kindly given to him by a colleague of his whom he had told that I was gluten free. One of those products was the Purely Bulk Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix. 

Since receiving the product a few weeks ago, we have used it three times. 

1 - we made pizza
2 - we made flat bread
3 - we made donuts

Needless to say, we have absolutely fallen in love with this product. It is very simple to make - you only need a few additional ingredients besides what is in the package. What I love most about this product is that it produces a really flavorful and moist dough. If you have ever had gluten free bread, you may have noticed that many of them are dense and do not always have a lot of flavour, so this is why we really loved this product.

We also loved it because it was so versatile! Just follow the directions on the package to make a great pizza crust - just add your own toppings and go. We learned very easily that the dough was so tasty that you could serve it as flat bread. Instead of making pizza with the dough, just pull it apart and use it as bread for a meal or to serve with dips or salsa.

Lastly, we also made donuts with the dough. My fiancee's mother is known for making fantastic little donuts out of pizza dough. We thought we would give it a try with this pizza dough and it turned out amazing! Here is how we did it:

Step 1. Start by making the pizza dough just as it is directed on the package. You will get a nice runny (not too thick) batter.

Step 2. Get a frying pan on the stove. Pour in a good amount of cooking oil and get it nice and hot.

Step 3. When the oil is hot, use a spoon or a small measuring cup and scoop up donut sized amounts of batter and pour them into the hot oil. Try not to overcrowd them - just do a few at a time.

Step 4. Flip them over once until both sides are nice and brown then remove them from the oil.

5. In a separate bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar together. Pour this over the hot donuts to season them. 

...... Enjoy!

I would most definitely recommend this product. We will definitely continue to keep it in stock at our house!

Friday, 1 November 2013

How to Create a Vintage Style Ceremony

So, we are officially just under 8 months away from the wedding (Yikes!) Since the very beginning of this process, I knew that I wanted to bring in as much vintage style as I could to this wedding without making my modern and sleek fiancee cringe. I've been searching far and wide for ideas and pictures that will help me figure out how to perfectly blend in a vintage feel to a modern, yet romantic wedding style.

Right now, I'm really focused on my ceremony. I think there are a lot of very simple and beautiful vintage details that can be added to a ceremony. Lucky for us, we're getting married outdoors at a beautiful castle so some of these vintage touches are going to be perfect! Here are some of the ideas that I've narrowed down as my top 'must haves' for my upcoming summer wedding. 

Must have #1: A romantic signing table

I don't know about you, but I've seen my share of not so pretty signing tables & chairs. I often feel like this is something we just don't think about or simply leave up to the hall or ceremony location to put together... I mean, after all, it is just a table that you sit at for a few minutes to sign your official wedding document.. so no big deal right? Wrong!

Take this opportunity to add some vintage flair to your ceremony by adding a beautiful rustic table along with some high back vintage chairs. You will feel like royalty and your guests will be impressed! Remember, this is a great photo opportunity! Wouldn't you rather see yourselves sitting in something like this rather than some old plastic table with plastic chairs (scary.. but yes, I've seen it). This set up looks like it just belongs in the outdoors.. like Mother Nature herself created it! I want it!

Must have #2: A stunning backdrop

This ceremony decor makes the setting feel so romantic and warm. It is very similar to what my location looks like. At the end of the aisle, there is a bit of green space and then there is a huge cliff (seriously!). I really feel as though I need to decorate that space so it feels more closed in and inviting. 

I love the use of a vintage style dresser or table as a backdrop for the ceremony. I realize that it will probably be blocked for most of the ceremony seeing as though we will be standing in front of it, but it really helps to close off the space and gives your guests a beautiful view while they wait for the ceremony to begin. It probably isn't within my budget to use that many flowers, so I would probably go with some flowers and fill the rest of the space with other vintage decor pieces.

Must have #3 - Vintage signage

The thought of spending any part of our wedding budget on printing programs, which in my opinion, are skimmed over and rarely ever kept (mine usually end up at the bottom of my car or scrunched up in my purse) makes me very unhappy. I do think it is nice to have something that people can read which tells them a little about what they can expect from the ceremony, but let's be honest.. a ceremony is a ceremony.. what do you really need to know? 

I love this simple yet beautiful idea! Write all you need on a chalkboard and put it in a lovely vintage frame. Even if you don't use a chalkboard, there are many amazing companies which will print something similar out for you and you can just put that in a frame. Place it at the front where everyone will enter.. and that's it! No paper, no big printing costs and let's face it, less waste! We're saving the planet here folks!

So this may not be a true 'vintage' inspiration, but there is something about this sign that feels very old fashioned to me. This little boys outfit also makes it feel timeless and sweet. We are blessed to have our two little nieces acting as jr. bridesmaids in our wedding and we were struggling with finding something that they could do for the ceremony and I think I may have found it. 

I love the idea of having a little one walk this sign down the aisle just before you come out. The burlap is very simple and gives it a very rustic feel - perfect for the outdoors. I'm lucky there are two ends to this stick so the girls won't have to fight over who gets to carry it down the aisle! They can just hold either end and hopefully walk (without fighting) down the aisle! 

For more vintage style wedding ideas, be sure to check out my Pinterest board!