Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: A Year In Review

This year we were rolling in the deep and moving it like Jagger. Britney got engaged, Jessica got pregnant, and the biggest wedding of the year took place in England. The world fell in love with Pippa, (sorry, Kate!) and everyone cheered when news broke about Osama, even those of us who thought UFO's had landed on earth, because what else could the breaking news so late at night be? As usual, all major news stories broke on Twitter first.

2011 was the year the world was supposed to end, with Rapture and dead birds and all, and yet, somehow, we survived. Take that, Kirk Cameron!

People occupied Wall Street and a brilliant man who forever changed technology passed away, leaving us all to mourn on our iPhone's, in sadness while shaking our heads at the five people left on Earth who are still using Blackberry's.

2011 was a year filled with good news stories and awful, heartbreaking news.

This past year was also one that was filled with amazing opportunities that I'm so thankful for. It was the year my oldest son started grade one, and the year my baby started pre-school. I tend to share less about my children's lives on my blog, and more in my personal journals, but I'll never stop writing about my boys. My boys keep me laughing all day long and fill my heart with so much love, it hurts. We took a road trip to Maine and made new awesome holiday memories, and soaked up as much fun as we could this year as a family, but that's another year-end post for another time.

For now, here are my top blog posts of 2011:

2011 began with some new beginnings.

And some fear, too when I felt a lump and had my first mammogram.

As usual, we spent some time (never enough) in south Florida, where I got over my SAD for a week, at least.

I told you all about the things that annoy me.

And how hard it is to find balance.

I was ecstatic to be in the Top Ten to be the new co-host for Daytime Ottawa, and I had blast being Kelly Ripa for a day.

And I was truly honoured to be featured in The Ottawa Citizen as one of the city's top six fashion bloggers, and one of three fashion bloggers with Ottawa Magazine.

I wrote about what to expect when you become a mom, and how Bambi caused me life-long trauma.

I reminisced about Old School Blogging and the days that have passed.

I shared with you all where I'm from, one of my favourite posts of the year.
(Maybe even ever?)

I wrote about my Five Things.

I became Yummy Mummy Club's shopping blogger, which fell into place perfectly, because well... I love to shop, and I love to write about my love of shopping.

I popped some Ativan and went to San Diego for BlogHer'11.

I attended the Toronto International Film Festival and interviewed Heather Graham. She was gorgeous, and even though her acting wasn't that great in The Flying Machine, it was an awesome experience.

I was flown to New York City for the day for the Tommee Tippee launch, which tops my list of things I didn't think I'd be doing in 2011. A day trip to NYC with some awesome bloggers, complete with lunch in Saks with Marinka and Ali? Pretty awesome.

I admitted my problem with being dependently wealthy, and interviewed Gail Vaz-Oxlade over the phone, later meeting here at BlissDom Canada.

I turned (gulp) 35, and was lucky to have the chance to review the two-floor Presidential suite at the Marriott in Yorkville for my birthday weekend , complete with champagne, balloons, a yummy cake, plenty of shopping, and dinner with my closest friends. It was the best review I've done, and my boys still talk about the two-floor hotel room they ran around in for two days.

I hosted an event for Yellow Pages at the Pantages Hotel in Toronto, too. A trip to Toronto complete with yummy martinis and a room full of fabulous people was another highlight of my year.

Of course, what's a year gone by in the blogging world without some really, really embarrassing pictures being posted for the entire world to see?

I think my jazz hands ends 2011 with a bang, don't you?

Here's to a fantastic, healthy, happy, and successful 2012, everyone!

I hope we can all kick it old school blogging style in the new year (at least, I hope to) and spend more time reading and commenting on the blogs we love. All I want in 2012 is more time to spend with the people I love, and more time to do the things I love doing. Health and happiness, too! And no more snow.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Friday, December 23, 2011

All I want for Christmas...

Happy Christmas Eve Eve Day!

I'm hoping this year, no 9-1-1 calls to the fire department will be needed.



I have given up on baking, the presents are wrapped, and I've stocked up on wine. I think I'm ready! How about you?

I'm excited for tomorrow night, because Christmas Eve has always been the most magical night of all for me. It's the night my family celebrates the most, more than Christmas Day.

I have amazing childhood memories of Christmas Eve. We would sit around the tree, eating and eating (and eating), waiting patiently for 11 p.m. so we could head off to church for midnight mass. (Of course, no Greek household on Christmas Eve is complete without some family fighting, usually about a soccer game or something political, but that's just part of the festive season, right?) We'd return home shortly after midnight, and sit down to a huge Greek feast. More eating, of course, followed by opening all the presents.



The traditions continue with my children now, and we will celebrate tomorrow night at my parent's house, with our entire family. The list of food my grandmother and mother are preparing for tomorrow night's celebration is lengthy, and tasty. I will do my best to enjoy it all and worry about diets and and calorie counting on January 1st. Christmas Day we'll spend with the inlaw's, as is our tradition, too, and have a second huge celebration including more gifts and presents with our extended family.



All I want for Christmas (besides a villa in Monaco and a trip to Capri) is to just relax and enjoy every second with my little boys, and my family. To me, that's what Christmas is all about. Also, making sure my wine glass if always full of wine. Or champagne. Or Bailey's.



Cheers!



I want to wish YOU ALL a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, and Happy Holidays... eat, drink, and be merry!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cookie trauma: The drama in the kitchen

Christmas is a week away, so it comes as no surprise that every other picture I'm seeing on Instragram is of someone's fabulous cookies that they just baked.

Dozens of beautiful cookies, perfectly frosted with homemade icing and dazzling sprinkes. I'm also reading Facebook status after Facebook status of: "Baked six dozen gingerbread men cookies today for my cookie exchange, and a chocolate layer cake, and then I cooked a seven course dinner for my family while polishing my silver and did two back-to-back Body Pump classes!" Okay, maybe not that extreme, but you know what I mean. There are some serious bakers out there, yo.

For some bizarre reason, I get the urge to bake every weekend. I start out all excited, and use Twitter as my Google, asking questions to people I know are excellent in the kitchen.

"What IS buttermilk? Is it, like, cream?"
"What is a pound of butter? 4 sticks?"
"Is parchment paper the same as wax paper?"
"Is it okay if I forgot to use only the white of the eggs? How the hell am I supposed to get out only the white of the eggs, anyway?"

"1/4 teaspoon is pretty much 1/2 teaspoon, right?"
"I forgot the sprinkes on the cookies I just baked. Can I just add them now?"

And so on, and so on. Week after week, I try to bake, and week after week, I am completely unsatisfied with the time I wasted in my kitchen, trying to do something I am miserable at. And then! I have to clean up my kitchen! Some people are just not meant to bake. I am one of those people. I would rather shove my face in snow than bake. I would rather clean bathrooms all day. I would rather anything else, really.

Last year, I stressed about baking and came to terms with the fact that I wasn't going to be making any Martha Stewart type cookies for the holidays. I was going to stick to good old-fashioned sugar cookies, and I was going to be okay with that.

This year, even sugar cookies took a turn for the worst. Also, related: I always confuse sugar cookies and shortbread cookies, and still don't know which ones I prefer.

I work full-time during the week, so I spend all my time with my boys on the weekends just being in the moment. I bake mostly so my children can remember their mother and the smell of baked goods in the kitchen when they're older, but truth be told, the excitement to help me bake lasts a total of three minutes for my boys, and then they're off doing something a lot more exciting. I also usually end up yelling at them for spilling all the flour or having icing sugar fights, and that's when I want to give up. But I never do. I will finish every project I start, even though I am not enjoying myself.

Cookies you'll never see baked by me:


Not ever:


Cookies I baked today:


They're pretty bad, right?

I forgot to add the sprinkles to the first batch of cookies I baked. In a desperate attempt to save them, I added the sprinkles after I took them out of the oven. That didn't work, as you can see. I got brave with the second batch, and made icing sugar for the cookies (or whatever it's called) and the icing sugar looked awful. How people get it looking so perfect, I'll never understand. After all that hard work - we're talking hours here - I gave up, and spent the next hour cleaning my kitchen, cursing myself under my breath.

Two hours later my three year old wandered into the kitchen and accidentally dropped all the cookies to the floor, breaking them all. This ended my awful day of baking with a bang.

It was the bang, the awakening, that I needed. I am done. Done with baking. If anyone needs nice Christmas cookie cutters, they're yours.

I have accepted that I am not meant to spend this much time in the kitchen. I am not going to attempt to bake cookies for Christmas again. And this makes me very, very happy. Sure, I'll still cook, since I have a family to feed, and yes, there are quite a few meals I'm great at making. (Even though I have set off the fire alarm too many times to count.) I am also great at making carrot cake and cream cheese icing, so a few times a year, I'll bake the one thing I'm good at. Other than that? No more.

Next year, I'll just stick to the things I'm good at during the holidays: decorating the house, shopping for the people I love, and wrapping presents. I did work as a professional gift wrapper when I was in unveristy, you know!

Now, I can sit back and enjoy the amazing Greek baked goods my grandmother just dropped off, with no pressure on me.

It feels good, to accept to the truth.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The gift of gold

I'm happy to report that most of my Christmas shopping is complete. Of course, there are several people on my list I haven't shopped for yet, but I'm strange and I love waiting for the last minute to shop. I like being a mall in the middle of the afternoon on December 24th. Call me crazy, but it's something I love to do.

Every year I give my children typical presents I know they'll love—things they've asked for, from LEGO to books to DVD's. We also donate to CHEO and give several new items to children who are with the Children's Aid Society, as well as drop off toys for the Toy Mountain, because the best part about the holiday season is giving, especially to those less fortunate than us.

Something else I love doing for my children every year is getting them something extra special. A gift that won't lose value over time and a gift they'll cherish for years to come.

My six year old is into collecting special coins and gold bars. He absolutely loves visiting the Royal Canadian Mint—and I do, too. Taking a tour of the Mint is educational, and a lot of fun. The Mint was built in 1908, and currently produces hand-crafted collector and commermorative coins, gold bullion coins, medals and medallions. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic medals were made in this facility, too—these medals were so neat to see up close! The Mint's gold refining and advanced engineering operations are also located right here in Ottawa.

This Christmas, I wanted to surprise my son with a special gold coin. I knew he would love
the new Fine Gold Cougar Coin as soon as I saw it on the Mint's website.



I asked the @CanadianMint on Twitter if they had any of these gold coins left in their store and within minutes, I received an email from them, telling me how much they love my blog and how they'd love to work with me on a review and giveaway with this goild coin. Isnt' that amazing?

I was so excited, and I know my big boy will be thrilled on Christmas Day to see this shiny new gold coin to add to his collection.


Let me just pause here for a moment to say how in love I am with Twitter. The power of Twitter never ceases to amaze me.

The Mint is so amazing they are also giving one of my readers the exact same gold coin. You're in luck because these gold coins are so popular that they're not even beeing shipped out until mid-December.

This special collector's gold coin is struck in 99.99% pure gold and is a collectible keepsake.

Perhaps there is another child out there who also loves collecting coins or gold? This would be the perfect gift for that child—or adult! It's the gift that will be cherished forever, and it will never lose its value.

To win this gold coin, please leave me a comment below telling me what special gifts you like to give your children for the holidays or for special occassions. Do you have certain traditions, too?

I'll pick a winner randomly on December 13th.

Good Luck!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dare to try


Thanks to L'Oreal for sponsoring my post about my favorite beauty looks, tips and tricks! Check out Makeup.com for beauty advice from the experts.

I love make-up. Let me rephrase that: I love make-up. There are two types of stores I could spend countless numbers of hours in: a book store, and a make-up store. Sephora after-hours? Yes, please! Or, any make-up counter, on earth? I'm so there. I have so many tubes of lip gloss I have lost count. You could say I'm a little obsessed.


Some people keep buying new shoes, but me? I buy new make-up every chance I can. Make-up is always the right size, always brightens my look, and doesn't damange my bank account in a bad way.

I wear the same eye shadow, eye liner, lip gloss and blush almost every day and I've gotten so good at applying my own make-up I can practically do it in the dark without looking like a clown. But for evenings and special events, I love to try new looks. And now that the holidays are here, I love anything that sparkles! I also love the look of a dramatic, smokey eye.

I recently tried Bobbi Brown's new holiday line, and I fell in love. They have a variety of colours to choose from, and will look amazing on all skin tones, depending on the look you're trying to achieve.


With the right tools, you can make your eyes pop. Even without the help of a professional make-up artist! An eyelash curler and some mascara, and the fact that I've only slept 4 hours the night before is not so evident anymore. I always wear my Maybelline The Falsies Volume Express Flared mascara. I swear, this is the best mascara you'll ever own. It does wonders to your eyes, and you'll almost never look tired again! If I'm doing up my eyes, I always make sure my lips aren't too bright. I love a light pink lip gloss—one with extra shine!

This holiday season, I dare you to walk up to your favorite make-up counter, and ask them to doll you up, holiday style. You will love how glamorous you look, I promise. And? With your make-up looking so good, you won't need to stress about what to wear!

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. Click here to learn more about Makeup.com or become a Facebook fan by clicking here.

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