Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WISH Wednesday #7

I had another Christmas photo chosen for WISH (Weekly Inspiration for a Seasonal Home) Wednesday, but realized yesterday that I didn't love it - I only liked various things in the room, not the whole thing!  Then I found this gorgeous image and had to use it instead.  

I love so many things about this room it's hard to know where to start.  The first thing that caught my attention was the windows.  I adore rooms that have light coming in from more than one side as it makes the lighting much more even and pleasant, so this room had me at the wrap around windows.

I love all the natural materials - simple unadorned wreaths hung on the windows, wood furniture and floors, a natural linen runner, and a pleasing arrangement on the table of a pot of blooming paperwhites, some candles, and a bowl of clementines on a large cutting board.  

I would love to sit at that table looking out to the birds and trees and watch the snow fall while sipping a warm cup of tea.  Perfection!

And if you want to see more photos of this gorgeous home you can go to the original article at Country Living.    It was Elizabeth's post at Blue Clear Sky that brought this lovely Connecticut Saltbox home to my attention.  It's funny how many of the images I had seen before, but never realized they were from the same house.  What a beauty of a house it is too!  I think this house looks pretty at any time of year, but especially lends itself to Christmas.


Since this is the last Wednesday in November, I pulled all the WISH photos together to see what inspired me this month.  I can't wait to see a whole year's worth of my favourite photos all in one place.  When I study the November photos, there seems to be lots of natural tones with hits of orange, gold, and blue.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas in Toronto: Cavalcade of Lights and Pretty Windows

On the weekend I visited downtown Toronto to get a little Christmas action happening.  It was just the ticket for putting me in the festive mood.  The Cavalcade of Lights was on, which is the official start to the Christmas season in Toronto and features the lighting of the massive Christmas tree at Nathan Phillips Square.

To make a rip-roaring occasion of it, they had a fireworks display in green, red, and white all set to Christmas music.


The tree was amazing all decorated in red, white, and silver.

There was music playing,

and a very crowded skating rink,

covered by an awesome star studded canopy.


I really enjoyed all the twinkle lights and fireworks,

but I think my favourite part of the evening was looking at the Hudson Bay Christmas windows along Queen Street.  They were amazing!  I loved the little stories they told, the attention to detail, the animation, and even the Bay products that were woven into the scenes.  In all there were five windows each with a different theme.  

Window #1 - This window shows the elves outside, all dressed in coats with Hudson's Bay blanket stripes,  tending to the reindeer and checking out how well the sleigh's lift-off properties are working (the sleigh would go up and down as the elf pulled the lever). 

Check out the little basins of carrots and apples for the reindeer - how cute is that!

Window #2 - This window shows the workshop with the elves hurrying to get all the toys ready for Christmas.  Notice that the clock has months where the numbers usually are and it is almost Christmas Eve.  Santa is standing on the balcony overseeing everything with a long list in his hand.

Look closely at the dolls on the bottom shelf - they are Anne of Green Gables dolls.

Window #3 - This window shows the village getting ready for Christmas with the decorated tree and the shoppers.  The store is, of course, a Hudson's Bay store and the clerk inside is folding a Hudson's Bay point blanket.


Window #4 - This window shows a pretty Victorian home decorated for Christmas.  I assume it is Christmas Eve because there are stockings hung by the fireplace and unopened presents under the tree.  However, it must be late at night because the children have fallen asleep on the sofas in the adjoining room and the mice are asleep in their room under the floorboards.   It looks like Santa will soon be arriving.

I love that the mice are sleeping in match boxes decorated with Hudson's Bay crests and they are covered with Hudson's Bay blankets.  You could see the mice breathing heavily as they slept.

 Window #5 - This last window is a "Welcome Home" to Santa after his long night of work.  Mrs. Claus has been busy making lots of treats to serve Santa and the elves - the table is laden with goodies!  

I love the candy cane railing along the upper balcony and the world map painted on the wall.

And Santa is having a Hudson's Bay blanket draped across his shoulders - just what he needs after a cold tiring night.

I only wish I could have gone back about ten years in time and taken a young Kate to see the windows - she would have loved them.   If you live in Toronto I hope you get a chance to drop by and see these gorgeous windows and if you don't live in Toronto I hope you enjoyed the tour.  Do you have decorated Christmas windows where you live?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cookies and Chocolate and Other News

Well folks Christmas Cookie Week is finished and I have a smile on my face and a freezer full of cookies.  I hope you all were inspired. If you haven't already done so, you really should check out the cookies that Angie made over at Echoes of Laughter.  Funnily enough, we both made cookies that you flatten with a fork on Monday and chocolate cookies on Wednesday and that was completely unplanned.  I really need to try printing tags on Avery labels like Angie does - it looked amazing on her packages.  

Just in case you were too busy snarfing turkey and licking the pumpkin pie off your plate over the past few days, here's a complete cookie compendium from this past week:

Day #2 - Shortbread cookies hanging on the tree in an origami cup.


Several of you have asked if I could offer the option of following Sense and Simplicity via email, so never one to turn someone away, I've added that feature.   If you read the blog in a reader, then you will need to go to the actual home page (which is here) and put your email address in the form on the right sidebar.  


And finally in other news....important chocolate information.   This will only be of interest to people living in the Toronto area, but did you know that there is a Lindt chocolate outlet store in Mississauga.  Given that this is the time of year when we are spending copious amounts of money buying copious amounts of chocolate - oh wait, is that only me?  Well if you also are planning on buying industrial quantities of chocolate this Christmas then you just might want to save yourself some money while you do it.  

I promise that the angels will sing when you visit this chocolate heaven.   Some of the items are as low as 50% off and many are 25-50% off and some are retail prices.  The chocolate is all fresh, in its original packages, and not damaged.

You can find the Lindt outlet at 7090 Kennedy Road, Mississauga just north of Derry Road off the 410.   I thought I saw on the sign that it is open from 9am - 9pm Monday to Friday.  The phone number is 905-696-8143 if you want to check opening times. 

Have a great weekend.  What's everyone up to this weekend?  Anyone doing any Christmas baking?  That won't be me - just saying.  

Linked to Handmade Gifts at Funky Junk Interiors,
VIP Party at Designer Garden

Christmas Cookie Week: White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Cookie Mix

Can you believe it - this is the final post in the Christmas Cookie Week series - phew - that was a lot of baking and wrapping, but I'm happy it is done and ready for Christmas.  I hope you have been inspired as well.

Today I made a cookie mix to give as a gift.  I chose this recipe from Organized Home because it uses white chocolate.  This is going to sound strange, but I don't like white chocolate, except in cookies with macadamia nuts.   We have a bit of a chocolate addiction around our house and often end up with white chocolate in packages with regular chocolate.  I've been saving those chocolate pieces and I've used them in this cookie mix.  

Here's the White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Cookie Mix recipe:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup chopped white chocolate

1.  Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder together.
2.  Layer ingredients in a quart-size (4 cup) canning jar - flour mixture, brown sugar, white sugar, nuts, white chocolate
3.  Print and attache a gift tag - White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie Mix gift tags

I didn't have a proper mason canning jar, so I used the next best thing - a pasta jar.  Since our pasta jar was full of pasta sauce, can you guess what we had for dinner?  Yep and when the jar was all clean and dry I used the blow dryer to make sure the inside was as dry as the Sahara Desert. 

Now it took some pushing and wheedling to get all the ingredients into the jar.  You can see that I just made it with not much room to spare.

I could have stopped here and just added a ribbon or a circle of fabric on the top, but I decided to do something a little different.

Given that the cookie mix was all white and that I have a bag full of unused/unloved socks in the basement (see this post for details about the poor neglected socks), I decided to turn the jar into a snowman head.

I tied a knot in the end of a sock and then pulled it down over the jar.  I secured an elastic around the sock where the lid fastened onto the jar and then rolled the sock up over the elastic to make the cuff.  Then I cut out shapes from sticky-back felt (but black vinyl or paint would also work) to make the eyes and mouth.  And I used a piece of orange foam to make the nose. To add a bit of decoration I  made a loose pompom out of green yarn and tied it to the end of his hat.

He actually looks more like the Bonhomme from the Quebec Winter Carnival.  Here's a picture of him and you can see that he has the same kind of floppy toque that my snowman jar has - he's in good company!

Don't forget to hop on over to Angie's blog at Echoes of Laughter to see the cookie mix she has made today. 
Thanks for joining us this week - it's been a blast.

Linked to Inspiration Friday as The Picket Fence,
Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest,
Flaunt it Friday at Chic on a Shoestring Decorating,
Handmade Holiday at Just a Girl,
Recipe Link Party at Remodelaholic,
Cookiepalooza Party at Centsational Girl