Monday, July 28, 2014

cake in a cup

A few nights before I hosted my garden party I was over at a girlfriends for a little birthday celebration. As I left to walk back to my house, she handed me a cupcake to take home in a red disposable cup (kind of synonymous with a frat party). It was cute, funny, and also - genius. I sat on the couch that night watching TV, eating the cupcake out of the cup. It wasn't messy and the cake was contained.

The next day when I was contemplating the desserts for the party, that cupcake in the cup triggered an idea. No one likes standing at a party holding a cupcake in their hands - it's so messy and, awkward. So, how about a mini cupcake in a cup? So, here is how I did it. It's really easy, and doesn't really need that much explanation but I'll share how I did it.

First, I started with a cake in a box. (I used Duncan Hines Confetti Mix)

Here's a little trick - I add extra sprinkles to it, so it's extra colourful.

I don't stir it too much, so it doesn't get too murky, as the sprinkles settle

Make mini cupcakes - For added measure, I sprinkle extra on top of the mini cupcakes

When baked, you'll have sweet little cupcakes like so...

From the dollar store, get some of the disposable wine glasses. Place a mini cupcake in - I found I liked it when they went in upside down. Next comes the icing.

I'll post my own person icing recipe this week as it never fails to get compliments. But for now, let's assume you have your own recipe. You'll want it thick enough, so that it stays firm. And, I would highly recommend a piping bag. I use Wilton's, I keep a stash in my baking drawer - and I also use cake decorating tips. If you don't have cake decorating tips - and you like to bake - go get some! I would say that you should stay away from icing dispensers like this - I find you get the most control with the piping bags.

 Once you have your piping bag full of icing you're ready to go!

Add a mini spoon and.... voila! I picked up a box of 20 mini spoons from the dollar store and they work perfectly. 

That is it. Easy as pie cupcakes.

Shopping List
Cake ............. Duncan Hines Confetti Cake
Wilton's Piping Bag (I think The Bulk Barn carries Wilton)
Mini Spoons + Wine Glasses .......... Dollarama

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Etsy Road Trip / Canada

Etsy is embarking on its first-ever road trip and they would love to see you along the way. August 1-9, Etsy will be making stops in Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, and Toronto. You can meet local Etsy sellers, shop their cool items, enjoy live music, and eat good food.  Click here for more information --

Inspired by the whole road trip idea - I put together my favorite items on Etsy that remind me of an old school retro road trip. Because everything is more fun when it's retro inspired. ;)

Ps.,  Share your road trip memory and/or vacation photos on Instagram or Twitter using the tag #etsyroadtrip for a chance to be highlighted on and/or Etsy's social channels.


On this whole road trip topic - have you done one? Aubrey is totally bananas for the idea of renting an RV and going on the road. I, on the other hand am much happier sitting at the cottage, chilling out reading a magazine. But I must admit, it does intrigue me. Have you done an RV trip? Would you do one?

hosting a wine and shopping night #BusinessTips

For the last two Christmas season's I've hosted a neighborhood party for girlfriends - the theme that you come, have some wine, visit, catch up with friends, make new friends and  - shop! The last event was such fun that I decided to host a garden party with the similar theme - but I opened up the guest list a little bit more to a bigger group of friends and not necessarily girlfriends from the area - but some that I've met because of work, the blog, and encouraged those invited to bring a guest. Because it was in my garden, I knew that I could handle more people and I also invited my friend Stacey to take part.  I wanted to share this party on the blog because obviously it was fun, but it's also I think a great idea should you have a business of your own.

Hosting an event like this is a great way to market your shop. Set up the event with the products around the garden / room and make it so low key. My tips on something like this is to spend the money on making it really a special event for your guests. Make them feel special, because they are, and it should be a really lovely experience. Have a bar, have food. Hire servers. It's not that expensive yet makes a really great night.

Not everyone drinks wine (I'm much more of a punch girl 90% of the time) so I had a drink dispenser with non alcoholic punch available, glass milk bottles with fun straws at the bar.

Have the room? Invite another business that you love, to share in the fun. I love Stacey and her line of products at LoveFresh - she's been an amazing mentor to me for me and has become a friend since I met her last Christmas. I invited her to come and bring her products to the garden party because I knew that if I loved her line, my girlfriends would too.  (I was right - they loved it as much as I do.)

I hired a server again to come and take care of the bar. I tried to rope my brother to come help but he was working, so I hired Kevin again (he helped me last Christmas). He took care of the bar (red and white wine, sparkling juices and non-alcoholic punch) and would go around and top up glasses if no one was at the bar. It honestly is THE best money spent to have someone help you. Buy a TON of wine, and return what you don't use. Just double check the return policy on unopened bottles.

With regards to the food, Aubrey comes from a restaurant background (his family owned a restaurant / catering business when he was growing up) so he took care of the catering for me. He's amazing, he can whip up a cheese plate like no one else.  I took care of the desserts. The bottom were simply two bite brownies with some icing, a hint of mint and a sliver of strawberry. The top was cake in a cup. I swear that is the best thing ever. It deserves its own post. Food can get costly, so we kept it pretty simple but put a lot of effort into presentation.

Set up things so it's easy for people to touch and feel. You don't want to have to help, so make it easy for people to browse.

Globe lights lit up the event.In my mind, they are what made it look so beautiful. I hadn't taken down the ones from my Ikea shoot awhile back, and as you can see my cucumbers in my garden have latched onto the lights and created the most beautiful backdrop.

I bought a huge tent (below) because renting one was going to be just as expensive. We like to host parties so this kind of purchase is great. I searched Craigslist and Kijiji and you can find companies selling tents for a few hundred dollars.

If you have your own business, this is great thing to host. Even if no one buys - which is what I always assume when I'm planning it and my budget -  it's a word of mouth event. It gets people infront of your products.

As the owner of the shop, and the host of the event, I make a point to not be the person accepting any money at the party. I hired my sister in law to come and do that for me, so that I can be free to mingle, and so there is no awkwardness about accepting money from friends. And, also, it means that it doesn't appear that I'm noticing who buys and who doesn't. To me, it's not about the selling, it's about the experience of the night. So bottom line - if you are going to host a night like this, get someone else to handle transactions - I personally think it helps eliminate any weirdness. 

So here are a few of my tips on hosting a wine and shopping night.... (Although I'm sure there are many, these are my top tips)
  • Be a host! When people arrive, invite them in and show them where everything is - bar, different tables of product, and point out baskets that they could use to put things they like in it. (I stock up on dollar store baskets that stack) When they are ready to buy, should they like anything, point out who they go to, to make a purchase. Avoid any presentation of products, unless people ask you about something.
  • Make your role at the party to be host. Not a server, cashier. This allows you to have fun.
    • Ask family to help - be a server / bar. Or, hire a server to help. Expect $20 / hour for a server and consider a tip. 
    • Don't be the one accepting money - get someone else to help you accept payment - This avoids awkwardness with friends. I have no idea who bought what and I'm 100% happy with that. 
  • Encourage people to bring a plus one. It's much more fun walking into an event when you know someone. It also means your shop or products will be shown to someone who may not know you. So if you have the room, allow for plus ones. 
  • You can cater your own event. It's much more economical, just make sure nothing is major work and nothing needs to be in the oven. No one wants to be hanging out in the kitchen. 
  • Price things out so people aren't asking you what things cost. Have a big sign with prices, or, price things individually. 

Anyhow, this kind of event is a great way to get together, connect, share stories, build new friendships and bond. Life gets so busy that sometimes we need nights like this to just chill out. I won't lie that throwing an event like this isn't easy. It's a lot of work, and I may have fallen asleep fully dressed, with my iphone in my hand on the bed after everyone left. But I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Here is a wee video from last night. :) 

Monday, July 21, 2014

roundup of some of the best brass hardware

I'm digging the whole paint + update the old furniture thing right now. It's terribly relaxing, which confuses Aubrey. (He walks in the door after work, I say to him - "Peace out, I need a break. I'm going to go bust out my paint sprayer and paint some furniture". You may think I'm kidding. But I'm not) But part of updating furniture means also, many times, updating hardware. Occasionally you can get away with using the original hardware but I've found that 90% of the time - replacing the hardware is a crucial element to modernizing a piece) So I decided to do a roundup of some of my favourite pieces. I'm right now focusing on brass, because I have always loved the look and also, I think it's pretty much the trendiest / coolest thing ever.

 Lion heads. Ugh, I can't get enough. That bad boy is from Lee Valley my go to place for hardware.

Schoolhouse Electric knocks it out of the park with their brass hardware.

Like the ones above. Are you seeing what I'm seeing? Aren't they droolworthy? (Available at Schoolhouse Electric)

/  1  /  2  /  3  / 4  /  5  /  6  /  7  /  8  /  9  /  10  /  11  /  12  /  13  /

So a little more about some of them...

The School House Electric ones (1, 2, 3, 4) are heavy and obviously of quality. The knobs (1,2 and 3) have a brushed finish to them that I ADORE but it's so hard to find. I love, love their hardware.
The knobs (5, 6) from Lee Valley I've used on my side tables - you know, that Ikea Rast hack from 2008. The handles have worn well, and are in my opinion pretty timeless. Then we have the drawer pulls..
The drawer pull (7) from Lee Valley is gorgeous. It's hammered detailing makes it stand out -- but also comes in at one of the most expensive, at $18 per piece. Although too rich for my blood for a piece that has a lot of drawers - consider using this on a single drawer piece perhaps like I did here. If you like the look of brass drawer pulls - consider Martha Stewart's available at The Home Depot for under $2.00 each.

The Lion's heads are pretty awesome. I love the one from Lee Valley (2 inches) - it's large and stately. I also love the one I picked up from my local Home Depot. It's not shown on the Canadian site but the one on the US site looks rather similar.  The picture on the site doesn't really do the lion justice, it's really rather gorgeous for a $2.00 pull. 

Anyhow, there you go! Some online resources for gorgeous brass hardware.

Schoolhouse Electric
Lee Valley 
Home Depot

mom trick.... popsicles for breakfast

My Mom gave me a Vitamix for my birthday. It's the most glorious machine ever. Anyhow, since I've added it to our kitchen I'm making a TON of smoothies but always have a little bit of leftovers so I posted this to instagram - buy those single pop molds (I got mind from Amazon) and put the leftover smoothie in it. You whip it out and give it to the kiddos and BAM! You're an awesome Mom letting them have a popsicle for breakfast and you will laugh to yourself at the fact that it's healthy. #MomTricks

Ps., I bought my Tovolo set on Amazon but I also spotted a ton on sale here that are so cute.  Some people on Instagram mentioned they got theirs on HomeSense. But I really want this set.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

alive and well.... :)

A girlfriend asked me if all was well, because I hadn't updated the blog. Oh crap I thought. I forget that people actually READ my blog. I mean, I know people do, but I don't have an editorial calendar, I don't schedule posts, so when life takes over the blog has crickets. Oops! Sorry. :) Anyhow, it has been a whacky few weeks. Some professional ups, downs, in betweens, sideways things. Deep breaths. Anyhow, I thought I'd just update you quickly on what's happening via some pictures I posted to Instagram.

Above - My bump on my back we couldn't get a surgeon to address it (everyone is on holidays!) so my doctor "drained" it. So gross. It was bandaged up and super icky. It shook me a little, but after it was all said and done, it wasn't so bad. She said it has a high chance of coming back and if so, we'll have to go the actual "surgery" route. I felt terribly dramatic about it all, just for a little scar - but now that I know what to expect I don't think I'll be as nervous or freaked out. That's me above, in the waiting room with my coffee, and a necklace from Oscar that he has asked that I wear every day. I love it so. 

Aubrey and I went to Lee for dinner. And it was AMAZING. 

We escaped for a few nights to the cottage. Bliss.  Except for the bugs. OH my gawd. The BUGS.

Movie night in the laneway. Our neighborhood is kind of ridiculously fun. :)

When I get stressed, I clean. And I think you can guess what my stress level was above....

More "creative" posts coming up over the next few weeks. Promise. :) xo