For the Love of Hot Cocoa, Snowflakes, and Christmas Scrapbooking – The Wintry Hot Chocolate Series Layout

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I’m so excited to be posting this layout I’m almost jumping out of my skin!  I’ve been looking forward to scrapbooking Christmas and winter photos and layouts for ages and now that there’s actually some snow on the ground, my holiday scrapbooking mood has sky-rocketed straight through the roof!  This month has been a whirlwind with plans not panning out, my uncharacteristic unpreparedness, and Christmas coming and going faster than I had anticipated, so I really didn’t get into a scrapbooking groove until after Christmas.  I was chewing on ideas for over a month, but for whatever reason, part of me just wasn’t ready to dig into the paper and stickers.  I wanted to lose myself in it and enjoy every minute, not be distracted and moody over it. 

Even though I feel like I let precious time pass me by, I’m so much happier I scrapbooked when I did because it was SO MUCH FUN!  This is my Christmas-holiday-winter hot chocolate layout with photos of the hot chocolate I’ve featured in the Hot Chocolate Series: the nutella hot chocolate from Le Gourmand, the peppermint hot chocolate from Le Merceria, and the rich hot chocolate with blow-torched marshmallow from Bobbette & Belle.  I’ve been wanting to use a red, green, blue, and white colour scheme for some time now so I went to town with the ribbon and cardstock and paper and ended up with this!

There have been times where I’ve scrapbooked every day for a month or more and there have been other times where I’ve gone weeks without even touching my go-to scrapbook tin.  Every time I scrapbook though, it feels like no time has passed and I’m happiest when I get to surround myself with photos and memories and all my art supplies.  Out of all the themes I enjoy scrapbooking (birthdays, Valentine’s, art, and friendship among others), Christmas and winter are my absolute favourites. 

A new year means a time to reflect and a time to look forward and when I look back on my scrapbooking, I think back to when I started 8×8 scrapbooking full force over 3 years ago (prior to that I was actually doing 8.5 x 11!) and I’m reminded of the very first 8×8 scrapbook album I made which was a Christmas and winter one.  I’m reminded of how excited I was to find such a pretty album at the store (a gorgeous chocolate brown suede album with a magnetic flap that had the word “Memories” stitched across it), all the fun I had making those 20 pages, filling those plastic sleeves and making the album fat, and all the Christmas memories I got to look back on.  It was an amazing month of scrapbooking and it made me feel so free and so alive.  I’m hoping that 2012 will bring just as much happiness and inspiration. 

*****

Scrapbooking materials used: Periwinkle, powder blue, Christmas red, grass green, emerald green, and white cardstock (Recollections); Christmas patterned paper (Me & My Big Ideas Christmas mat paper pad); hot chocolate, cocoa, and peppermint adhesive embellishments (Jolee’s Boutique); blue ribbon with green polka dots; green satin ribbon; “Lollipop” alphabet stickers (Autumn Leaves, Creativity Inc.); brown alphabet stickers (K&Company); black alphabet stickers with white polka dots (atd); green foil leaves; duochrome and iridescent snowflakes; medium scallop circle paper punch (ek success); circle paper punch; corner rounder paper punch.

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Christmas Cookie Baking Fun! Crackled Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

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I know it’s a little overdue, but my holiday baking and Christmas cookies are finally here!  I’ve been looking forward to posting Christmas cookies and recipes for so long and I’m so excited to finally have homemade holiday baked goods to share with you all.  There were so many recipes I wanted to try, I was bookmarking and dog-earing pages like crazy, and I was also enjoying everyone else’s Christmas cookie fun via the interwebs on my friend Katrina’s blog, In Katrina’s Kitchen, where she hosted an “I’ll Bring the Cookies” cookie party all month long!  In an ideal world, I would love to bake 5 kinds of cookies and cookie desserts EVERY DAY and you’d all be able to come to my house for a cookie party!  Realistically though, I just share them with my family, boyfriend, grandparents, hair stylist, and whichever friends I happen to see during the times I bake cookies.

I had so much fun making and baking these Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies (how’s that for some fancy alliteration?) because I actually got to improvise and experiment a little!  See, I didn’t actually use an entire printed recipe from a magazine or book to make these.  After realizing what an amazing, holy grail cookie batter base I had going on here, I used the basic framework of the cookie recipe, modified it just a little bit, and made the rest up on my own.  And it worked!  Sort of.  The recipe and ingredients worked out beautifully, but I was a little overzealous and put a few too many cookie dough balls on the first cookie sheet and they ended up overcrowding one another, but I learned my lesson and the rest turned out PERFECT!

I wanted to make something fun and special for my friend Lindsay for Christmas since she loves mint chocolate so much, so I figured, why not experiment with a chocolate peppermint candy cane cookie?  I wasn’t sure if I, personally, would enjoy them since I’m still warming up to peppermint things and mint chocolate, but I have to tell you, I love these cookies so much, and even my mum, who isn’t a fan of peppermint or mint chocolate, loved them too!  Not to mention I loved the way they turned out appearance-wise with the crackling and the candy cane mosaic.  Let’s share and spread the Christmas cookie love!

Recipe for Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies (yields 4 dozen medium-sized cookies or 3 dozen large cookies)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2½ sticks unsalted butter (10 ounces), at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 oz. semisweet chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1½ cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crushed candy canes

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  (*Deb’s Note: Depending on how big you make your cookie dough balls, you’ll need to line your cookie sheets a few times to bake the 3 or 4 dozen.  My oven runs hot, so I actually don’t bother putting anything on the bottom rack and only use the top rack, placing 2 baking sheets vertically side by side).
  • In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  (*Deb’s Note: I didn’t use the mixer for this step, I just used a large spoon to mix everything together).
  • Beat the butter and both sugars at medium speed until creamy.  Add the egg followed by egg yolk and vanilla, beating well between additions and scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary.
  • Melt the semisweet chocolate chips and add to wet mixture, mixing until thoroughly incorporated (*Deb’s Note: I know some people prefer to use the steam method, melting the chocolate over a pot of boiling water, but I actually do it in the microwave.  I blast it at 20 second intervals, stirring after each interval until the chocolate is smooth.  You don’t have to do this, but I added a small splash of milk to my melted chocolate).
  • Slowly beat in the dry ingredient mixture, then fold the white chocolate chips into the batter.
  • Using clean hands, roll mounds of cookie dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter.  Roll the cookie dough balls in the crushed candy canes, coating the entire ball.  Place coated cookie dough balls onto the baking sheets, 12 balls to a sheet (*Deb’s Note: Here is where I was a little overzealous with the first batch.  Instead of 12, I placed 15 and the cookies were overcrowded.  Make sure you don’t make the balls bigger than an inch in diameter because the dough spreads.  If you want the cookies larger, I’d say only put 8 cookie balls to a sheet). 
  • Bake 12-15 minutes, until crackling forms.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely (*Deb’s Note: Mine took 14 minutes in the oven).

Here’s a cute gift idea: to mimic the texture and “crackled” appearance of the crushed candy canes, take the cookies and break them into smaller pieces to create cookie bark!  Place in some clear cellophane and tie the bundle up with some pretty ribbon.  Ta-da!

*****

Recipe inspired by Food & Wine magazine.  Sampson, Sally.  “How Baking Can Change the World.” Food & Wine November 2011: 130.

Cupcakes in Scarborough! Cupcakes, Cakes, Seasonal Treats and More at Sugarbuds Bakery & Café

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My personal obsession: nutcrackers!

My cupcake prayers in Scarborough have been answered!  Over the past two years, I’ve been hitting up as many cupcakeries and bake shops with cupcakes as possible (and going back numerous times to some because I love them so dearly!) and I’m still far from knocking ’em all off my list – and those are the ones I’m aware of!  There are plenty of other cupcake fairy lands that I probably don’t even know about and that’s where Sugarbuds Bakery & Café comes in. 

After visiting and finding out about cupcake shops downtown, uptown, in the west end, in North York, and in Markham, I wondered to myself, “are there any cupcake shops in Scarborough?”  Some people might write off the suburbs and not give downtown’s surrounding areas a second thought (or any thought at all), but there is some darn good food in these neighbourhoods.  After living in the suburbs all my life with the exception of my first year and half, I know particular areas so well I could easily walk around blindfolded and find my way out and about without a problem.  There are always hidden pockets though, or in my case, unchartered territorities.  When I’m referring to Scarborough here, I’m talking about “outskirts-almost-bordering-Port Union” Scarborough.  And yes, there are cupcakes.

Christmas cookies!

Introducing Sugarbuds Bakery & Café on Old Kingston Road!  I have Groupon to thank for this one.  Even though I didn’t end up purchasing this particular deal, I was so taken aback and delighted by it that I saved it in my inbox.  It was too good of a finding to pass up!  Finally, I found out about a cupcake place and bake shop in Scarborough!  I couldn’t wait to go.  I was so excited I actually called them to make sure they would have cupcakes available in the shop.  I didn’t want to take any chances.  For all I knew, cupcakes might have been sold on a “by order only” basis.  I was in luck though: cupcakes were available every day in different flavours and ready to be devoured by me.

After jotting down directions from a map, I made my way over with my beloved boyfriend and prepared myself for some holiday sweet sights and treats.  Were we ever treated to a show!  This bakery and café is fabulous!  Not only is it accessible by bus (always a plus in my book), but there are tables and chairs for you to sit down and enjoy your treats, and there are tons of dessert options and savoury options!  You could realistically sit down for some lunch and dessert here as they serve meat pies, soups, savoury pastries, coffee drinks, and more.

The bakery is split up into two parts and you’ll find the seating, savoury food, and giant class display cases with many of their desserts in the larger portion of the shop in the back, while the front end takes care of some of the retail goodies that the shop sells, such as gift baskets, as well as another assortment of baked goods including decorated cookies.

Sugarbuds specializes in customized cakes for special occasions (think wedding cakes, giant birthday cakes, cakes for showers, themed parties, and more) and has the celebrity seal of approval on their website from hosting and catering special events!  In addition, they make beautiful gingerbread houses, and sell everything from eclairs to pumpkin pie squares to cupcakes to sugar cookies to RAINBOW CAKE!  Yes, that’s right, you can get rainbow cake here!  Remember the famous rainbow cake from Wanda’s Pie in the Sky?  Sugarbuds has an amazing version that you just have to get your hands and sweet teeth on!  I need to get my sweet teeth in it.  This fabulousity that I speak of comes straight from my boyfriend who told me he regretted not getting FIVE slices because the one he ate was all sorts of awesome.  I know, FIVE!  I think he threw that number out there just to make a point, but I’ll take his word for it because I really don’t want to see him eat five slices!  As much as we hate to, we need to set limits.

Their seasonal selection of goodies was absolutely adorable.  They had beautifully iced and decorated gingerbread house cookies, Christmas and winter sugar cookies, Scottish shortbread, and mini PLUM PUDDINGS!  I was in conniptions over them!  They were so dainty and cute and come on, plum puddings!  I don’t know any other bakery that sells them!  You can imagine what a difficult time I had trying to decide what I wanted to try.  

A cupcake ($2.99) was a no brainer (they had 4 available: vanilla bean cream cheese, chocolate fudge, red velvet, and bananas foster, along with some Christmas cupcakes), but I wanted to take away something else.  I hemmed and hawwed so long I let another lady go in front of me to order first.  I finally settled on a bananas foster cupcake, a pumpkin pie square with the dollop of whipped cream, and a pink, red, white, and green iced and decorated gingerbread house cookie.

The desserts here are fantastic.  My boyfriend, who is one of the pickiest eaters I know, loved his desserts to death (his rainbow cake slice and his gingerbread house cookie) and I gorged on my bananas foster cupcake like there was no tomorrow.  It was the strangest thing because the cake itself wasn’t dense (the way you’d envision fruit cake to be), but the flavour was deliciously dense.  I loved the texture and flavour of the cake.  It was like a power punch of banana with an almost fudgy sort of texture.  The cake wasn’t crumby or pillowy.  If I had to compare it to something, I’d say the cake was like a banana brownie!  It was delicous and different and OH SO GOOD.  The frosting was pure, straight up vanilla (and quite like vanilla ice cream in flavour, much like an actual bananas foster dessert) and the cupcake was adorned with caramel butterscotch curls.

I’m so happy I found out about Sugarbuds.  Now that I know they exist, I can make future visits and enjoy other seasonal delectables (Valentine’s, anyone?) in the future.  I know not everyone sees the value in web enterprises such as Groupon or even agrees with the premise of it, but for me, it really has helped me find out about businesses I never would have known about and for that I’m grateful.  Here’s to cupcakes in Scarborough!

*****

Sugarbuds Bakery & Café is located at 360 Old Kingston Road, right at the corner of Old Kingston and Morrish Rd. by the eastern boundary of Scarborough in Highland Creek.  The 38 TTC bus will take you right there as it travels east from Scarborough Town Centre to Rouge Hill GO station.  If you’re driving, the easiest way to get there, in my opinion, is to drive south on Morningside, swing east when you get to Ellesmere, and go south on Morrish Rd. until you get to Old Kingston Rd.

Bright Green Chocolate Candy Cane Macarons & Christmas Tree Shortbread Cookies – Bobbette & Belle, Part I

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If there was a pastry shop, cupcakery, and macaron heaven fit for a princess here in Toronto, Bobbette & Belle would be it!  Ever since I found out about Allyson Bobbitt and Sarah Bell’s queendom of sweets from Where Toronto magazine months and months ago, I’ve been envisioning pastel colours and chocolate cookie biscuits and macarons and pastries and beautiful shop that would render me speechless.  Or at the very least a hushed, “Oooo” and “ahhh”.  And “Oooo” and “ahhh” I did.  After passing by Bobbette & Belle on the Queen streetcar more times than I can count on the fingers of my hand, I made the trip especially for the holidays and I squealed as I stepped inside the beautiful shop.  Wreaths!  A Christmas tree!  Poinsettias!  Edible Christmas gifts!  HOT CHOCOLATE, CUPCAKES, AND MACARONS.  I wanted to sprinkle flower petals while pirouetting around the lovely shop.  Oh, this was going to be fun.

Located in Leslieville, Bobbette & Belle’s pastry shop is beautiful, plain and simple.  The spacious interior oozes romantic, floral, Victorian, cozy, and modern rustic with its plush arm chairs, coffee table, couch, long wooden bench tables, large wooden communal table (perfect for cake order consultations!), stools, and shelves lined with sweets, gifts, and B&B’s gorgeous decorated cakes and wedding cakes.  The space is illuminated by natural light streaming in from the front and side windows and you feel like you’ve walked into a pretty in pink music box fairy land with dainty, feminine framed art on the walls.

Don’t be completely fooled by the flowers and bows though; behind the sweetness lies a subtle touch of fun attitude.  Nothing says “we are bakers and pastry chefs, we love sweets, and we’re damn proud of it!” like the framed criss-crossed whipping whisks!  Aside from those framed whisks, my favourite thing in the shop is a giant framed print listing some of Toronto’s popular neighbourhoods in big block letters on a turquoise background.  It’s bold, it’s punchy, and it makes it known that Toronto is home to B&B.

I know many have been to Bobbette & Belle and I know a number of people who’ve done plenty of press on them, featuring photos of cupcakes, macarons, and other sweet confections.  I never feel contrived though when writing about such popular places such as Bobbette & Belle because the perspective and feeling will always be different.  It doesn’t matter how many people know about them, how many times they’ve been showcased in media outlets, or how many photos I see of their products.  Everyone’s experience is their own and that’s why I don’t mind writing about places that probably seem like old-hat to others because what’s familiar and known to some is exciting and new for me, and vice versa.  Things continously and consistently change and even though I feel like I’m late to the party half the time, I feel like this blog is my way of seeing things with fresh eyes and for Christmas, I finally got to see B&B up close and in person.

Although French macarons are at the heart of Bobbette & Belle’s creation and birth, the shop specializes in professionally decorated cakes and wedding cakes, cupcakes, cookies, meringues, tarts, whoopie pies, and plenty of sweet pastries.  Along one wall you’ll find B&B’s retail section where you can pick up already packaged yummies and gifts including meringues (candy cane ones for the holidays!), marshmallows, cookies, and more.  Their selection of sweet delights include creamy buttercream frosted cupcakes ($2.95) in flavours such as mango passionfruit, apple spice, espresso, pumpkin, and lemon among others. 

They also had cake stands filled with blueberry scones ($3.25), pumpkin tarts ($3.75), toffee pudding ($3.75), Christmas shortbread cookies ($1.00 for small ones, $1.25 for large ones), chocolate peanut butter whoopie pies, vanilla raspberry whoopie pies, custards, tarts, and Christmas cupcakes for holiday orders in the glass display case, and of course, macarons!  Priced at $2 a piece (which is very reasonable and average priced across the board), flavorus include milk chocolate salted caramel, gingerbread, dark chocolate hazelnut, pistachio, and my pick for the day, chocolate candy cane!

I know most of you would have expected me to inhale a cupcake because I love cupcakes and would eat them every day if the opportunity presented itself, but there’s always a time to be unpredictable.  I went against the grain and instead of a cupcake, I had me a Christmas tree shaped shortbread cookie and a bright, vibrant green chocolate candy cane macaron instead!  C’mon, Christmas themed macarons?!  I would be a fool not to introduce one of those to my sweet teeth. 

The chocolate ganache filling was wonderfully thick and fudgy and rich without being overly sweet, overly bitter, or overly anything!  If I had to compare the chocolate filling to anything, I would say it tastes like soft, fudgy brownies.  I absolutely adored the shade of green used for the candy cane flavoured meringue shells and I really appreciated the subtley in candy cane flavour.  The flavour pattern was like a gradient, where it started off subtle and then gradually became stronger as you bit closer to the center of the macaron.

It was a perfect marriage between chocolate and candy cane flavour because the macaron wasn’t overpowered with stingy peppermint and the candy cane flavour had a bit of sweetness to it that I loved.  Some people might like that breathy pepperminty feeling, but I don’t prefer it because it ends up tasting like frozen ginger mixed with mouthwash and all the dessert-like sweetness flys out the window.  And a macaron must be sweet and decadent!  Even when savoury flavours are mixed in, when you eat a macaron it has to feel like you’re eating a dessert, and it has to taste crispy on the outside and airy light just beneath the surface.  The melt-in-your-mouth aspect was bang on and that egg-shell delicacy was definitely there.  I know.  I accidentally nudged the macaron downward with my knuckle (don’t ask!) and heard an egg-shell like crack that reverberated in my ears as I gasped and quickly turned the macaron over to hide the dirty deed.  Sigh.  Anything for a pretty photo.

I have Part II for you all tomorrow and to give you a hint as to what sweet something something I’m showing off, it’s something chocolatey and toasty.  Very toasty 😉  Have a sweet one, everyone.

*****

Bobbette & Belle is located at 1121 Queen Street East, just east of Jones Ave.  They are open 7 days a week from 7:30am-6:30pm Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm on Saturday, and 9am-5pm on Sunday.  These are their holiday operating hours and they will be closed on the 25th, 26th, and 27th, as well as on January 1st and 2nd.  Visit their website here for product descriptions, information on orders, and photos.     

Hot Apple Cider, Christmas Desserts, and Hot Food – The 2011 Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery District!

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It’s that time of year again: the Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery District!  It’s crazy to think that exactly one year ago today I posted my very first Foodie Districts post devoted to the Distillery District.  Knowing the Christmas Market would be back again for another round of holiday fun (and for two weeks instead of just one), I knew I had to go again and a huge part of me wants to get in at least another visit!  You all know how dearly I love Kensington Market and the Distillery District and I always feel like I can’t get enough of both neighbourhoods. 

The Distillery during the Christmas season is really special to me because the art, the studios, and the workshops make me feel so inspired and so at home.  I know I don’t talk about it all that much on the blog, but the only other thing I love as much as food is art and although food is in and of itself an art (a culinary art, a photography art, and hey, check out my food scrapbooking!), a very large part of me will always be in love with visual and crafting art because I always envisioned myself as an artist since the age of 13.  One of the very first times I visited the Distillery was during the Christmas season, specifically for the Christmas artisans fair and it was just amazing.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  There were art prints, handmade knitted woolies, and lots and lots of gorgeous handmade jewelery!  Handcut sterling silver pieces, crystal bracelets, earrings, everything.  It’s one of my fondest Christmas memories ever.

I didn’t pay a visit to the artists’ galleries and studios this time, but I did have a fabulous time scoping out the wonderful booths full of yummy food and food-related goodness!  I arrived at the Distillery grounds bright and early and there were plenty of people already milling around, taking photos, and enjoying the cold, but nice weather.  The market was even more amazing than last year!  Nearly every nook and cranny was occupied by a wooden house market booth, selling everything from scarves, hats, Christmas gifts, and of course, food!

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Sweet Holiday Baking and Decorating Projects at Le Dolci – A Spotlight on Christmas Cake Pops

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I know this is after the fact, but I finally got around to editing some photos and I’m so excited to show you all my beloved group of Christmas cake pops from Le Dolci’s class!  Even though I’m at the studio on a regular basis, I don’t attend all the cupcake and dessert decorating classes that take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays most of the time.  Ideally that would be amazing, but it’s better to leave a spot vacant for an eager customer and student.  Not to mention attending oodles of classes on top of being at the studio is just asking for multiple sugar comas.  Like I don’t like the frosting off the spatula enough as it is! 

This class was such a treat (literally!) and I came away with a fabulous batch of sweet and decadent, super moist cake pops that I surprised my family with.  I was so busy snapping photos of everything that was going on during the class though that I didn’t get any good shots of my own little holiday superstars!  With the exception of the 2nd photo in the giant, two-part cake pop tutorial post last week, none of my own cake pops were featured and I didn’t get a chance to show you all the batch of cake pops I ended up with.  So here they are in all their glory!  I’m a big fan of sprinkles and I’m also a big fan of the drizzle method. 

My favourite one out of the bunch is the white chocolate one in the very middle with the red and green ball sprinkles and the dainty white snowflakes.  As soon as our wonderful cake pop teacher dished out those snowflake sprinkles, I was all over them like mud on a pig.  I dove for them and went snowflake sprinkling happy – kind of like real snowflakes!  Getting these cake pops to stand up and stay in place was no easy task though.  You are in fact looking at Christmas cake pops standing up in a mug filled with white chocolate chips on my kitchen table.  Anything for a few good shots, right? 

If any of you are interested in learning how to make cake balls and cake pops, just check out the tutorial post I have here and follow along with the photos and my step-by-step low-down on cake pop creation bliss.  It takes practice but the process is a lot of fun and I’m itching like crazy to experiment now that I’ve been bitten by the cake ball bug.  If anyone wants to take part in any of the classes (cupcake decorating, macaron making, and cake pops among others) take a look at the class schedule here and see if there’s anything that strikes your fancy.  We’re doing a ton of fun holiday decorating projects in the studio and I’m so looking forward to sharing more projects with you all as Christmas gets closer!  Happy baking and decorating, everyone! 

*****

Le Dolci is a private studio located at 75 Portland St., just east of Bathurst near King St. West.  The studio hosts cupcake decorating classes and handles catering for both corporate and personal events.  For more information on classes, schedules, rates, and more, visit their official website here and their Facebook page here.

On the 12th Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me a Christmas Kitchen Boutique from La Merceria

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Raise your hand if you’ve started decorating around the house!  Just this past weekend, my parents hauled out some of our Christmas decorations like our wreaths, our two mini light-up trees, and our brand spankin’ new mini santa sleigh that is sitting proudly by our fireplace in the living room.  Soon enough we’ll be outfitting our dinner table in our cute Santa Claus and Christmas tree printed tablecloth (complete with reindeer and little stars flying about) and all the house will need are stockings by the fireplace and my mini light-up gingerbread house in all its frosted, candied glory!  

In no time at all, I’ll be gathering up all the recipes and ingredients I need for the holiday baking I plan on drowning myself in (chocolate peppermint and cinnamon sugar, here I come!) and while I do so, I will wimper over all the oh-so-cute Christmas bakeware and accessories in stores that I cannot have because if I gave into my penchant for Christmas-related everything, the whole house would be full of the stuff and my family would have to sleep on the roof.  So what’s the next best thing?  Daydreaming about said accessories.       

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a Christmas kitchen boutique?!  Pretty much.  What a dream it would be to bake Christmas cookies in a kitchen even Mrs. Claus would envy!  And what a dream it is browsing the Christmas kitchenwares in the shining, twinkling, winter wonderland that is La Merceria.  As a follow-up to last week’s peppermint hot chocolate sweetness, this post shines a spotlight on all the beautiful kitchen accessories that the Argentinian café has to offer.  You won’t find appliances, cookware, or bakeware here, but La Merceria is perfect for the food photographer, kitchen accessory lover, and home decor fanatic.  Their Christmas lineup includes beautiful table linens, wooden utensils and boards, mortars and pestles, wooden spice cellars (the ones at La Merceria look exactly like the ones that Giada has on Giada at Home!) dishes, bowls, glasses, honey drizzlers, tea and tea accessories, cream pitchers, home fragrance, candles, ornaments and more.

La Merceria is the type of place where I construct mental wishlists, not only for myself but for others as well.  There are so many items I would snatch two of just because I know others would be delighted with them.  I am smitten over the plush dolls (gnomes and pigs!), I am gaga over the table linens, and don’t even get me started on the ivory pine cone candle sets!  The gorgeous display of Christmas and winter treasures sitting daintily on the café’s front table were bathed in shades of red,  moss green, ivory, and brown and what I love about these items are their coordinating shades!  The colour palette is so easy to work with and it lends itself to a never-ending cycle of possible decorating colour schemes.  Red and ivory, moss green and ivory, moss green and charcoal, the list goes on.    

I love it so much when places go all out with the decorations and celebrate the changing seasons and holidays because it brings a whole new level of energy, enthusiasm, and excitement to an establishment.  La Merceria is consistently changing their displays and their selection of products so it’s always worth a look-see.  It’s a one-of-a-kind place wiht a lot of heart and so much character.  When I saw the beautiful Christmas decorations on the wall (the 12 Days of Christmas decal with ornaments on the wall has to be one of my favourite things ever) and the front of the café transformed into the Christmas treasure island that it is now, I felt like I was walking in a hush little snow globe, only without the snow.  With the early morning sun streaming in, it felt like a quiet Christmas morning.  It felt peaceful, magical and full of colour and joy.  And that’s really what the spirit of Christmas is all about, bakeware or not. 

*****

La Merceria is located at 506 Adelaide Street West by the northwest corner of Adelaide and Portland Street, east of Bathurst.  La Merceria is located beside Sadie’s Diner and Juice Bar.  Visit their website and blog here for updates, info, promos, events, pictures, and contact information and visit their Facebook page here.