Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Christmas Re-cap | Photo Diary

Every Christmas is amazing, but this year happened to be one of the most pleasant Christmases that we've had thus far as a family. On Christmas Eve we went to my aunts house to celebrate with my Mom's side, Christmas Day was at our house with my Dad's side, and Boxing Day was a pyjama, brunch and board games day with just the four of us of my family. I hope you enjoy this photo diary from my Christmas 2015!

Christmas Eve

The dinner we feast on for Christmas Eve isn't your traditional Christmas dinner- instead my mom makes a huge pot of seafood Alfredo to serve over homemade fettuccine. The photo above is the "adult" table, however they happened to be a touch more rowdy than the eight of us who were at the "kids" table in the kitchen haha. 

Capturing people laughing is one of my favourite things to photograph! My cousin Ben and his girlfriend Ali always look great in photos and they're a beautiful couple. The two elderly ladies are my Great Grandma (97 years old) and my Great Aunt Marlene. They are such kind and gentle women and they still look so youthful despite their ages! My cousin Ashleigh and her husband welcomed their son, Tate, to the world seventeen months ago and he has been such a joy all year round, but especially at Christmas. We haven't had a young child for a Christmas in quite some time! He got so many toys but his favourite gift was the nut cracker that our Opa gifted to him. The photo of my Aunt Ursula laughing has to be one of my favourites! She's such a beautiful and gracious woman with an amazing smile and laugh. I'm so happy that I got to capture this moment for all eternity.
For Christmas Even I wore this stunning maroon dress from Dynamite with diamond solitaire pendant on a gold chain. 
Christmas Day
For makeup on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I just used my go-to makeup that I wear everyday- 1. Revlon wake me up concealer in 230 on my face 2. Revlon wake me up concealer in 125 under my eyes 3. NYX stay matte but not flat powder foundation 4. Revlon blush in ooh baby pink 5. Revlon brow fantasy in brunette 6. Baby lips dr. rescue 7. Covergirl lash blast volume (not pictured) in black. For my hair I wanted to try out my new NuMe tools that I got myself for Christmas! On Christmas Eve I did curls with the straightener and on Christmas Day I curled my hair using the wand. I don't have a single bad thing to say about these tools! Let me know if you guys would like a review on them.
Santa was very good to me! Some of the things he brought me included two pairs of PJs, a cook book, and a colouring book! My outfit for the day was a black high waisted flared skater skirt from Urban Planet and a deep red knit t-shirt from Dynamite. I loved capturing the reactions of my family opening their gifts- such surprise and excitement and joy!
After opening presents and enjoying each other's company for a few hours, six o'clock brought dinner time. We feasted on turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, carrots, green beans, and gravy. For dessert we had an array of cookies as well as my Grandmas homemade pies (cheery cheesecake, pumpkin, and banana cream). 

This Christmas was such an amazing time with all my family. I couldn't have asked for better people to spend the holidays with and I feel so incredibly blessed. I hope you all had such a wonderful Christmas! What did you get up to? Please do let me know in a comment!

This Christmas recap marks my last blog post of 2015. It's been such an amazing year- I started my blog in April of 2015 and I'm still loving writing it just as much! Thank you all for your support, from page views to comments and so on. I love being part of this wonderful blogging community and I can't wait to continue writing this blog well into the New Year. Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas (if you celebrate) and I wish you all the happiest of New Years!

Thanks for reading, xo, Katelyn

Thursday, 24 December 2015

24. Christmas Baking | Blogmas

One of my favourite things to do at Christmas time is baking! We divide the load amongst the whole family so that no one is stuck doing everything- pies, breads, cookies, etc. This year my baking duties involved an Italian loaf of bread for homemade stuffing, sugar cookies, and Nanaimo bars. 
I started with the bread on the 23rd as for stuffing you want the bread to be quite stale. The first step to this simple loaf is to let 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast to bloom in 2 cups of lukewarm water. I did this directly in my mixers bowl. Make sure you have the dough hook attachment on your mixer. 

You'll then want to gradually sift in 5 3/4 cups of flour and add 1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of melted butter and a pinch of salt and beat on a medium speed for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth, firm and elasticy. 

Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough in it to rise until it is about doubled in size. The dough will need to be covered with plastic wrap for this and it will take about 90 minutes. Once the dough has doubled, remove the plastic wrap and punch it down. Roll the dough up tightly and seal the seams well. You'll then want to transfer your dough to whatever baking dish you're using- I used a Pampered Chef stoneware bar pan. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel and allow to rise again for 30 minutes. Brush the dough with 1 beaten egg white and pop in your oven, preheated to 425F and bake for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, spray the loaf with water from a spray bottle. Bake another 3 minutes, spray again, bake 3 minutes, spray again. After 3 rounds of baking and spraying, bake the loaf for about 45 minutes. Spraying the loaf with water will ensure a crisp, golden brown crust. 
This bread is so delicious and I know it's going to make such a lovely stuffing! It's a such a shame to watch it go stale since it really is SO good, but the stuffing will be so worth it!
My sugar cookies are somewhat of a legend in my family- crispy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside. To make these delicious cookies, I start be creaming together 1 1/4 cups butter and 2 cups white sugar until they are light and fluffy. You'll then want to beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, sift together 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour and 1 tsp baking soda. Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter mixture until it is all incorporated. Don't over mix! You'll then want to roll the cookie dough into little 1/4in balls and place on a cookie sheet 2in apart to bake. You'll want to flatten the cookies slightly but not completely. They only need to be in the oven 8 minutes- don't over bake! They should be slightly golden on the bottoms. Let the cookies cool on the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack or else your cookies will break apart (they're super soft guys!)
Some of the cookies I left as is for baking, but others I sprinkled with cinnamon and more sugar. They turned out so freakin' good- kind of like a snickerdoodle. 
My recipe for Nanaimo bars is not my own, so unfortunately I can't share that with you- it's a family secret. Nanaimo bars are a three layered dessert with a chocolate, graham cracker, coconut base, a custard middle, and a chocolate topping. They're a huge hit among my family! There are tonnes of simple and delicious recipes online for Nanaimo bars and you can even get kits at the grocery store for quite low prices!

I hope you enjoyed a little look into my Christmas baking! My main Christmas is happening tonight (I'm so excited!) with a second Christmas happening tomorrow. I have LOVED doing blogmas- I really didn't think I could do it! Now that it's over I'll return to my regular Tuesday, Friday, Sunday post schedule so make sure to check in on Friday for my Christmas recap! What was your favourite blogmas post? Also if you're doing Christmas baking please do leave some recipe ideas as I've still got new years to bake for! haha. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas. 

Thanks for reading, xo, Katelyn

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

23. Our Christmas Traditions | Blogmas

As a family, we are all quite festive people as well as incredibly habitual. This results in having a plethora of Christmas traditions that we make sure we tick off the list every year! We love doing things as a family, especially around the holidays and these activities always put us in good spirits and bring us so close as a family. Some of these we have already done, and some are yet to come! Here's a list of the Christmas traditions myself and my family have for every year!

1. Decorating the tree/house
2. Gingerbread houses
3. Light hunting
4. Christmas film marathon
5. Lots of baking
6. Christmas Eve dinner at my aunts
7. Wearing our new pjs to bed on Christmas Eve
8. Stockings on Christmas morning
9. Christmas morning brunch
10. Desserts all day and being lazy on Christmas Day

What are some traditions your family has for Christmas time? I'd love to know so please do leave a comment!

Thanks for reading, xo, Katelyn

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

22. Gingerbread Houses & Light Hunting | Blogmas

My family is huge on tradition- every year we have certain things we do to celebrate the holidays. Yesterday we crossed two activities off our Christmas list by decorating gingerbread houses and driving around the city to see the Christmas lights that other people have on their homes. 
My brother and I worked on the house together. I did the icing and he added the candy decorations. If you can't tell I take the whole ordeal a lot more serious than he does- he couldn't even decorate the other half of the house because he had eaten all the candies! 
My dad's birthday is quite close to Christmas- December fifteenth- and he's a huge Star Wars fan, so my grandma got him this gingerbread death star to decorate! 
We love these little activities even still being fifteen and twenty. I feel like you're never too old to enjoy decorating a gingerbread house!
After the houses were decorated, my whole family hopped into the truck and went light hunting. There's so many houses in our city that are decorated amazingly! The pictures here are two of five houses in a row that decorated together and timed their lights to the beat of Christmas carols! It's so nice to see how much time and effort people put in to decorating their homes- it makes everybody who goes by slow down and enjoy the lights!

What are some traditions your family has around the holidays? Please do let me know in a comment!

Thanks for reading, xo, Katelyn

Monday, 21 December 2015

21. I'll Be Home For Christmas | Blogmas

Being that it's my first time living away from home, it's also my first time flying home for the holidays and boy was it an experience! I arrived at the MacDonald-Cartier International Airport in Ottawa at 9:10am as my flight was scheduled for 10:15am. As I was checking my bag the lady working at the desk (who was quite rude I have to say) informed me that my flight to Toronto was delayed until 12:15pm. She then proceeded to charge me $85 freakin' bucks for an oversized luggage fee because apparently their weight limits changed but the website wasn't updated. 
So little distraught me ended up boarding the plane to Toronto at 12:15pm and landing safe and sound in TO. The girl sitting beside me on the flight was an absolute doll I have to say and even grew up just a little ways away from me back home! What a small world it is. 

Then came the Toronto airport...

"Ladies and gentlemen waiting for flight 687 to Sault Ste. Marie, we're sorry to say your flight has been delayed again due to poor weather conditions."
The Sault was supposed to be having it's first green Christmas since the 90s, which of course broke my heart. It's not Christmas without snow! Well the Lord clearly heard my prayers as he blessed SSM with this lovely snow storm... the day I was meant to fly home! I can't say I was the happiest of campers having spent five hours sitting around an airport. But, I eventually did make it home safe and sound which is really the most important thing at the end of the day!
I really do love flying. There's something about being above the clouds that's so calming to me. The turbulence tugged at my anxiety a little bit, but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. Landing in SSM was the best feeling! Hugging my parents- and finally eating food- was amazing!

My first solo travel experience is something I will never forget. It was a learning curve for sure but I'm really proud of myself for keeping my anxiety under control and "putting on my big girl panties" to get through the whole travel experience.

If you're travelling home for Christmas I hope you make it safely with as little delay as possible! Have you ever travelled alone? If you have any tips to make the whole travelling experience less stressful please do let me know!

Thanks for reading, xo, Katelyn

Sunday, 20 December 2015

35. Your Neighbourhood | 52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge

I'm obviously not going to post photos of my neighbourhood and home, that's just not smart- this photo was taken in autumn in my backyard. I love the neighbourhood I live in. It's quiet but not dead. It's pretty but not over done. All my neighbours are friendly, there are kids and grandparents and families- a little bit of everything!

This weeks gratitude topic came at such a good time as I just arrived back home for the holidays yesterday. I enjoyed a walk this morning with my mom and the dog around the neighbourhood and I really did miss this place!

What do you love about your neighbourhood? Please do let me know!

Thanks for reading, xo, Katelyn

Saturday, 19 December 2015

19. Favourite Christmas Films | Blogmas

Something that really puts me into the Christmas spirit is a good holiday film! There are SO many holiday films that I absolutely love so I tried my best to narrow it down. Today I'm going to share with you (in no particular order) my five favourite holiday movies!
For me a good Christmas movie is one that leaves me with that warm feeling of holiday joy. I love a film that can make me laugh but also hit me right in them feels haha. Of course a happy ending is a must for a feel good Christmas film!
Holiday Inn
This is quite an old film- from the 1940s I do believe- but still so amazing! It's not exclusively Christmas, but a great one to watch this time of year none the less!
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
An absolute classic, the Grinch is one of those movies I just have to watch at Christmas time! Unpopular opinion: the Warner Bros original twenty minute short is infinitely better than the newer Jim Carrey version... sorry not sorry haha.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
My mom is a huge peanuts lover and she's passed that down to me. We watch every Charlie brown special for each holiday but the Christmas one has got to be my favourite! It doesn't feel like Christmas until I get to watch Charlie Brown with my mom!
Love Actually
Nothing better than a good rom-com, am I right ladies? I really enjoy the multiple plot lines in this movie and just the feel good Christmas vibe that this film has! It's one that makes you laugh and cry and leaves you with a warm feeling that I just love, especially round Christmas time!
Is it really a complete list of holiday films if Elf isn't mentioned?? I'm a huge Will Ferrell fan and he definitely doesn't disappoint in Elf! It's a must watch.

I hope you enjoy these films and if you have any favourites that I haven't mentioned please do leave them in a comment below!

Thanks for reading, xo, Katelyn

Friday, 18 December 2015

18. Gift Guide For Gals (non-beauty) | Blogmas

I've noticed that a lot of bloggers focus on makeup/beauty items when putting together a ladies gift guide, however there are more women in my life don't wear makeup than do. I myself am not a huge makeup fan or beauty guru and most of the women I surround myself with aren't either. Au naturel, my love!

I put together a little list of gift ideas for the ladies in your life that doesn't include makeup/beauty or skincare products. All of these gift ideas are gifts I know I'd like to receive myself and are all things I'd feel comfortable giving to another woman in my life. Enjoy!
A Book
I feel like a book is one of those things you can't go wrong with. Wether it be a cook book, a biography, a self-help guide, or a work of fiction- a book is always a nice gift. A couple books I've bought as gifts this Christmas include Jamie Oliver's EveryDay Super Food, and Let It Snow.
PJs at Christmas are a classic! I picked up these adorable fleece pyjamas for my mom from La Vie En Rose and I just know she's going to love them!
I'm not saying go out to Tiffany's and buy a diamond necklace or anything, but a nice bracelet or earrings are a gift that most ladies would love! You can get some really lovely statement jewelry from H&M and Forever21 or you can go slightly more expensive (but still very affordable) and check out Sears and Nordstrom
Something Homemade
I feel like you can never go wrong with a homemade gift- check out Pinterest for some great ideas! It's always nice to get something really thoughtful that you know had a lot of thought, time, and effort put into it. A diy gift I'm going to be giving out this Christmas to my three cousins and their significant others is a cozy night in basket containing a fuzzy blanket, hot chocolate mix, microwave popcorn packs, a Christmas movie and a few other bits and snacks.
A Photo Print
I think photographs are so special (maybe part of the reason I've chosen photography as a career path haha). I think a photo of any kind is a great idea for a gift- a photo they've taken, a photo you've taken, or a photo print you find at a store- they're all beautiful and a great gift idea. My mom loves this photo so I got it printed and framed for her to go along with her pyjamas!
A Liqueur, Spirit, or Wine
When all else fails (and if your intended receiver drinks alcohol) can't go wrong with booze! When it comes to ladies I tend to stick to coffee based liqueur, fruity cocktail mixers, champagne, wine, etc.

I hope this gift guide will help some of you out who are in my position of buying for ladies who aren't into beauty and makeup! If you have any other ideas please do share them in a comment (I still have a few more people to buy for!!).

Thanks for reading, xo, Katelyn