A Winter Ride + Mulled Currant Tea

Ever since I was a little girl I have been obsessed with horses. If I wasn't playing with a My Little Pony or Grand Champion, I could be found painting or drawing horses on every scrap piece of paper I could find.
I had always dreamed of owning a horse, but no matter how many times I tried to convince my dad it could simply live in the backyard, or bride my mom with a portfolio of drawings that would surely make her rich one day, I never had the pleasure of owning a horse.
My lack-of-horse never stopped me from enjoying horses whenever I could. I will always remember my first horseback ride. It was a birthday gift from my aunt Pam. We both got all bundled up on a cold December afternoon and went for a wintry trail ride along the Grand River. It was my heaven.
And despite how cold it was last Thursday, my friend Sarah and I couldn't resist hitting the trails with 40 other bloggers and and the kind folks at Nestea. It was fun all around - a little bit of riding, haybale rides, and some cocktails to keep warm.
I never would have thought about drinking Nestea's new Blackcurrent Tea warm, but my mind was quickly changed when I tried this Mulled Currant Tea. Warm, aromatic cloves and pungent cinnamon add another layer of flavour to this sweet tea. The perfect accompaniment to oh-gooey s'mores on a cold winter's day!
Mulled Currant Tea

4 oz Nestea Blackcurrant
1 oz Amber Rum
2 cloves and 1 cinnamon stick

1. Heat Nestea to just below boiling with cloves and cinnamon.
2. Remove from heat and add rum.
3. Remove cloves, pour into cups and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Disclosure: The wonderful people at Nestea invited me to enjoy a wintry afternoon horseback riding in the country. I was not obligated or required to write about my experience, but I had such a good time it was hard not to want to share. No compensation was provided for this post.

New Year, New Workout Gear

It's a new year, which means... out with the old and in with the new! I would not be over-exaggerating if I said I am in desperate need of some new workout gear. My running pants have lost their stretch, my shoes have more miles on them than a 1998 minivan, and I have almost dropped my iPhone more times than I can count (I think that means it's time for a armband!). While I am loyal to my favourite brands (Adidas shoes & Old Navy running pants), I'm looking to try something new. What are some of your favourite workout brands?

My Top 7: The Best of 2014

Here we are, one week into the new year. It's time for fresh starts, organization and generally getting my act together. As I start to map out and goal plan for the year ahead I like to take a moment to reflect and look back on everything that I accomplished in past year. I must say, 2014 was a great year!

1. House // This year "J" and I found ourselves sort-of slowing down on the home projects. While there is no lack of things to do around our house (the basement, the guest bedroom, the master bath... I could go on!) we really wanted to focus on getting the backyard finished! I talked about my dream backyard and even backyard entertaining. In May we had the opportunity to work with The Home Depot; digging and pouring our new stamped concrete patio. It truly was a labour of love, and we were overjoyed to be able to use our new outdoor space all summer!
2. Family // In February my little family grew by one... one furbaby to be exact! After bugging "J" for close to a year he finally caved and we got a puppy, Maddy! I'd like to be able to tell you a handful of horror stories about our tiny pup eating the furniture, peeing all over the house, digging big holes in the garden... but the fact of the matter is, I can't! She was an incredibly well behaved puppy! We took her for three levels of training at Puppy Power and she aced every class. Now that we have her, I don't know what I would do without her!
3. Blogging // This has been my slowest year on the blog (post wise, not traffic wise). I've sort-of, unintentionally, fell into the "slow blogging" trend. I spent more time blogging with meaning vs. blogging for the sake of publishing a post. It was a nice change of pace. Lucky for me 2014 was full of contributor opportunities which kept me busy! I wrote my regular column for Houzz, and I contributed to the Food Bloggers of Canada blog (writing about summer and fall styling trends). I partnered with SodaStream, Egg Farmers of Canada, Home Depot, Pulo, Bick's and Santa Margherita Wine. I also took part in three very fun blog tours for The Messy Baker, Butter Baked Goods, and Gatherings. I attended not one, not two, but four blogging conferences; BlogPodium, FBC2014, Blissdom and Spark Sessions! Lastly, I was not in the least bit shocked to see my most popular post of 2014 was the cedar bench I built for the Home Depot Summer DIY Challenge! It was featured on Apartment Therapy, Brit&Co, and has been repinned over 27,000 times!
4. Travel // Similar to 2013, I traveled a lot. Lucky for me it was a good mix of business and pleasure. "J" and I started off the new year in Ann Arbor for the 2014 Winter Classic (which was far too cold for my liking!), afterwich I was quickly whisked away to sunny LA. The Canadian cold welcomed me back as we rented a Muskoka cottage for a weekend and went ice fishing. It was a busy start to the year! From February to December I traveled to Las Vegas, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Nova Scotia, Kennett Square, and Vancouver.
5. DIY's // Our stamped concrete patio really made us kick it up a notch in the DIY department in 2014. I'm not going to lie, it was hard work! I was also beyond thrilled to finally finish my Ikea Nightstand Rast Hack after searching for handles for a year. We also spent the better half of 2014 planning & designing an awesome DIY which will be revealed here in February, so stay tuned!
6. Food // Food, glorious food! I can't say the past year was lacking in the foodie-fun department. There were too many events, conferences, get-togethers, photo shoots, cooking demosbook launches, giveaways and baby showers to count. In 2014 I published 29 new recipes, and would have to say my top 3 favourites were my Grilled Peach Pavlovas, Ricotta Stuffed Eggplant Rolls (see, I said I would come to love eggplant!), and my Braised Rabbit.
7. Business // Saying it was a busy year would be an understatement. I had a lot of fun helping my clients realize and leverage the power of social media. And although I spent 99% of my time working IN my business vs. ON my business, I still feel pretty good about all that I was able to accomplish! My amazing business coach, Gillian Rees, was instrumental in my success 2014, and I am looking forward to working with her in 2015.
And there you have it, another year in a nutshell. I want to thank every single one of you readers who stop by to read my posts (even though they were less frequent this year), everyone who has click the "follow button" on my Instagram profile, and who follow me on Twitter. You guys make writing this blog fun & rewarding! Cheers to a fabulous 2015!

My Holiday According to My iPhone

1 // Our beautiful tree!
2 // Only drinking eggnog.
3 // The niece and nephew... cute overload!
4 // There is no such thing as too many Lindors...
5 // Family pictures.
6 // Maddy's first Christmas!
7 // Sangria all around.
8 // Easy appetizers are always a good choice!
9 // Ohhh yum! Lemon & Walnut Bars from Butter Baked Goods cookbook!
10 // Chocolate bark Christmas gifts!
11 // Remnants from our New Year's party + a beautiful dish from Inspiration Studio.
12 // Snow! Finally....
13 // Breakfast for dinner... the best kind!
14 // The start of a fun new project! #HDBlogSquad

Hope you had a lovely Christmas and holiday filled with food, relaxing, family and friends!