First Things First

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This past weekend, M had a birthday. He is one of those people who could happily just let the day go by without acknowledging it at all. I, on the other hand, am one of those people who thinks it is a crime against humanity that we do not all get a day off on our birthdays.
No, seriously– I think birthdays should be A Really Big Deal. Or at least a Marginally Big Deal.

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I got him some prezzies and took him out for dinner. I also made him his favourite cake, with a twist. He loves 1-2-3-4 cake, so I made him 1-2-3-4 chocolate cupcakes. I just added cocoa to the batter until I liked it. I made cardamom cocoa butter cream icing and added a few sprinkles. I free-styled the recipe for the icing. 🙂

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To make things a bit more fun, I used colourful paper straws and cute, polka-dotted birthday candles for the final flourish.

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The result? A success: he polished off a dozen cupcakes in two days flat. {I may or may not have helped. A little.}

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

…and I finally got around to doing some festive baking!

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We are among the very lucky ones who were not affected by the ice storm and the widespread power failures that have left so many people without power or heat in these terribly cold days, so I was able to do a bit of baking to take to our neighbours. I love to bake for the holidays and it is always a pleasure to do so, but this year I was also full of gratitude to be warm and cosy in our well-lit, comfortable house. My heart goes out to all those who are still waiting for the lights and heat to come back on.

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I made my annual batch of chocolate shortbread cookies, jazzing them up a bit this year by dipping them in melted chocolate and sprinkling them with chopped-up candy canes. I added some peppermint extract to the melted semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate, just to give it a bit of festive flair.

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I wrapped them up in tubes of parchment paper, tied up with some green velvet ribbon, and delivered them to the neighbours, but I bet Santa would be happy to find a plate of these waiting for him this evening as he makes his rounds!

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Shameless

It’s true: I am a shameless devotee of IKEA. If you are anti-IKEA because you are still scarred by the whole Billy bookcase experience, then I urge you to reconsider.

They have really come a long way since their early days. They have, in short, upped their game.

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I admire people who, when their homes appear in fancy magazine spreads, readily admit to owning pieces from IKEA. Stylists know it’s a great source of accessories and finishing touches. I am always a fan of great design that won’t break the bank. My dear LHR tells me all the time that that is my super-power: the ability to make something inexpensive look expensive. Maybe she’s right. I think it has more to do with being willing to see what looks good, regardless of price. I don’t care if something cost a lot or a little- if it looks good and makes you happy, then it’s money well-spent.

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The IKEA booth at IDS2013 was A.MA.ZING. I thought I’d share a bit of the bathroom installation with you because it is the perfect example of what IKEA does best: provides us with great looking “low” items to mix with beautiful “high” items in order to create a gorgeous room on a budget. In this case, the beautiful antique tub and the truly stunning bones of this “room” are the high-end bits; the accessories, chairs and rugs are from IKEA.

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Quite a beautiful mix, don’t you think?

All is Calm

All is bright.

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I think one of the reasons I love the Christmas season so much is that, once the craziness is over (my partner and I pretty much live this every year), there is time to slow down, to cosy up at home with some lovely candles burning, the glow of the tree, the sound of vintage Christmas tunes, a good book and something yummy to sip.

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Seasonal Switch, Big Finish!

Okay, perhaps I am overselling a bit. In fact, I am willing to bet that the only people who notice much difference from Version 1 of the mantel to Version 3 of the mantel are me and a few equally finicky folk out there. 🙂

For this (final?) version, I added the candlesticks back in– I felt that the vignette needed the height they bring.
I like the way the lights drape across the mantel– looks sort of casual and brings the light down to the larger owl.

So, that’s that. I may or may not change it up at Christmas…