Wednesday, 9 December 2015

The truth behind our family photos

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Sometimes we just have to make the time for the things that we have wanted to do for a long time. 

Sometimes we have to just put forth the effort, put aside our exhaustion, and book the date to make it happen. 

And make sure that we don't cancel. 

Because sometimes a bit of effort (ok, a lot of effort) is worth it.

Because pretty much doing anything with 3 small kids takes a lot of effort. 

But we did it. 

We booked the date. 

We put aside our exhaustion and that mound of laundry staring at us and we packed up the kids, packed our beloved quilt that my mother-in-law made for us, packed up tons of mini packages of Smarties and met a photographer on a cool fall day not too long ago. 

Because the opportunity to finally get our family photos done was something that I just couldn't pass up. 

So with candy within arms reach for bribery encouragement, and the strict instructions to the photographer to just get whatever shots you can--we don't have high expectations...we set out to get a snapshot of our family at this very point in time. When they were all still so little. And when we were all still so tired. 

Because, in a heart beat, these years are going to fly. 

and we didn't want to miss the chance to freeze time for a moment.

But, you see, freezing this moment in time comes with the reality that these moments that we live right now aren't all just full of flowy dresses blowing in the breeze and children sitting quietly and nicely for long periods of time.

So we snuck Smarties into their hands when they got cranky. We changed locations for a change of scenery. We brought books to read. And we crossed our fingers for at least one decent shot of everyone.

But as the sun started to go down, dinnertime was approaching, kids were getting hungry, the cool wind was picking up and the kids had had enough, we knew that time wasn't on our side. 

Because even though that sun is so darn pretty falling down behind us, kids can only take so much. And an end of the day, witching hour photo shoot, is not exactly something that I would recommend to a family with little children. Because just as the sun started to go down, everyone else went down along with it.

So we wrapped the kids up in their cozy sweaters, fed them handfuls of Smarties and watched as everyone fell apart.

Because that's just real life sometimes.

So this last picture of Terry and I just makes me laugh. Because if I wasn't telling you the truth behind the pictures, you'd probably think that we were so relaxed just nuzzled up to each other thinking loving, warm thoughts.

But the reality at this very moment is that I laid Sophia down in her stroller and she lost it. Then Mya ate the very last Smartie and Carter lost it. So two out of three of them were crying, just feet from us as we quickly nuzzled in, smiled and pretended that all hell wasn't breaking lose around us. Because in this beautiful moment in time, that's exactly what was happening.

I wish now that the photographer had spun around at this very moment, just after taking this shot of us, and gotten a picture of the reality behind her. Because sometimes family photographs just don't tell enough of the story. And to be honest, one day we'll look back on these pictures and wonder how we got all three of them to sit so nicely and spin and twirl for the camera with ease...because one day we'll forget. We'll forget the meltdowns that happened that day, the melting candies in their hands and the effort that it actually took to get us all there.

Because one day our family photo shoot won't require handfuls of candy to survive it. It won't need sippy cups tucked into the stroller, baby blankets, breaks for nursing hungry babies or for calming energetic children. One day our quilt will feel too small and that witching hour won't exist, because one day they'll all grow up. So I'll accept the noise and chaos, and tears and candy that come along with this stage in our life--and I'll look back to this blog post so that I don't forget. Because one day that day when the sun went down on us and provided the most beautiful backdrop for our family photos will be all but a distant memory. And I just don't want to forget.

Happy Wednesday everyone.

Erica xox

Monday, 30 November 2015

A Christmas garland hack that will save you a bundle

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So this is going to be quick. All three are asleep, and I've got some Christmas wrapping to do. But I just thought I'd pass along a Christmas garland hack to anyone out there who might be in the midst of putting up garland, or for those who already have...and who were like me, not so long ago, thinking "This looks awful".  

Because, unless you're willing to spend a fortune on amazing garland, most garland that you just buy at somewhere like Walmart (where mine was from) looks...well, cheap. And I can say this because I've been putting up cheap looking garland for years now. Sure I'll dress it up with twinkly lights and pretty sparkly Christmas balls...but in the end, in the daylight, it still looks like thin, plastic garland. is the magical solution. It's super cheap (or FREE to those who have trees around their house), and it takes literally minutes.

You can transform your plain, plastic, thin garland into beautiful, full, real greenery filled garland--and it will look super expensive. But obviously you've paid, well, NOTHING.

So let me go back to how I USED to hang garland. Because I love a good before picture.

So here you have it (pictured above). This is me trying to convince people that this is thick, luscious, beautiful garland--because I've taken two strands of garland and twisted them together.

Then I added some Christmas balls, trying desperately to make that cheap stuff look nice. But, the reality is that it still looks cheap and full of plastic.

So, this year, I decided that I didn't want to hate my garland anymore. So I set out to change it.

And it's as simple as this one little trick:


Nothing magical. Nothing fancy. Just greenery.

Greenery that I happened to cut from my very own tree in my backyard. So free to me. But if you don't have your very own giving tree sitting in your backyard for the sole purpose of stealing greenery from it at Christmas time, you can easily head on over to Lowe's or Home Depot and buy some pre-cut greenery for super cheap and use that instead.

And all you do then is start cutting it into small(ish) pieces, and sticking it into the fake garland that is already up.

Just follow the flow of the plastic garland, and watch in amazement as your cheap, thin, fake stuff transforms into full, luscious, beautiful garland that actually looks real--and looks like you spent a fortune buying real greenery from one of those fancy nurseries. 

 But it didn't cost me a thing.

And if you want to dress it up even further, add some cute stockings, and personalize them by adding glittery letters for each member of your family (bought for only $2 each at Walmart!).  

And then at night, this is where Terry and I sit, with quiet kiddos sleeping above us and sparkly lights shining beautifully all around us. And I LOVE it. 

 So, if you have some garland staring at you right now that is looking a little lifeless...well, give this little garland trick a try.

I promise you, you'll love it.

Happy Christmas decorating everyone.

Erica xo

Sunday, 22 November 2015

The reality behind my cakes

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People ask me all the time, how do you manage to do your cake/cupcake orders with 3 little kids at home? 

Well, here is the honest truth:

I throw mini temper tantrums in my head. The whole time.

Because creating fondant cakes and cupcakes is A LOT of work. It's time consuming, intricate work and it takes a lot of concentration and time alone to get it done. So, with that said, clearly having 2 small kids and a baby doesn't exactly lend to this kind of work. Ever.

But there is something that I just love about creating something out of nothing. There is something magical about having an image in your head and bringing it to life. So I love it. But I would never say it was easy--not in a million years--not with 3 kids, that is.

But I managed to quiet the mini temper tantrums that I was silently throwing in my head as the pressure was on, the kids were driving me bonkers, and time was ticking.

So I worked late into the night while everyone was sleeping in order to get the details of this adorable cake order done, and I thanked my parents and mother-in-law for entertaining our kids during those final hours before it was due for a woman whose sister was finally able to get pregnant. A new mama who finally, after a long road of infertility issues, was able to the theme of the baby shower was fittingly "Worth the wait". With turtles, of course.


So I tirelessly rolled fondant through my fingers for hours on end to create teeny tiny turtles to sit on top of cupcakes, and created a big turtle to sit on top of the cake. And to add a little 'pretty' to the cupcake stand, I made some cherry blossom flower toppers and sprinkled edible pearls over others. 

So, yes, I love this work.

I love to be creative. I love to be detailed. I love to be able to feel like I'm being productive and like I've accomplished something.  And I always, always love the end product.

But when I got the news that the caterer who catered this particular baby shower wanted my contact information since she was hoping to use me to make desserts for her catering company, I had a moment of NNOOOOOOO WAY. How on earth would I be able to do more. But then of course, 2 seconds later I changed my mind. Because creative work like this does that to you.

Because, you see, the road to the end is never smooth sailing, it's never just quick and easy. And your fondant pieces become so precious to you since you know how fragile they are, and you know how many long nights you have spent creating them. So when I show up with my large white cupcake boxes full of hours and hours and hours of my work, I hand them over and pray that they make it safely from the customers hands to the table that they are being displayed on.

Because it's all fun and games until you drop a cupcake box.

So to the new mama who I've never even met before--congrats. Your wait is finally over.

Your first steps into the world of motherhood are almost here. And I can tell you with all honesty, it will definitely all be worth the wait.  

But speaking of which, I'm heading to bed. 
Because being a mom is absolutely exhausting. 

Erica xox

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

DIY mini burlap Christmas trees (for less than $2 total!)

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Last month was a whirlwind. October is birthday month in our family, with Oliver, Carter, Scarlett and Mya all celebrating their big days--which means a lot of celebrations, a lot of cake, a lot of booked weekends, a lot of excited kids and a lot of busy, tired parents. Then, to top it off, Mya's friends all decided to be born in October as well, so we have been dropping her off at a different birthday party each weekend, all month long. 

But, it's November now, and just as the chaos of birthday crazy has died down, Christmas crazy has begun. 

Well, begun in this household anyways. 

Because Christmas is my absolute favourite. 


So I've quietly been sneaking out Christmas decorations in anticipation of it actually being a reasonable time to start decorating. So in the spirit of DIY'ing it this Christmas, I thought I'd pass along an adorable little Christmas idea that is super easy to make, and ridiculously cheap to make. Even if you're not a crafty soul, I promise you you'll be able to do this. 

Mini burlap Christmas trees.

How cute are these?!

They can be used as a table centre piece (as I'm using them for), or they would be cute up on a fireplace mantel or just on a side table or shelf. Pretty much adorable any way you choose to use them.

If you head into those fancy little Christmas shops you'll see these adorable little burlap trees, sitting on the shelf for an outrageous price. OR, you can make them yourself for almost nothing. 

So, after doing a little searching online, I discovered that all that I needed was this:

-a few sandwich Ziplock bags 
-some soil (or rice, or sand--whatever you have on hand), 
-some ribbon & a few elastic bands 
-some greenery
-xmas balls
-that green spongy stuff that you stick flowers in to keep them put (whatever it's called) *see pic below

So here is how I made them:

Decide how many trees you want to make, and then fill the appropriate number of sandwich bags with soil, rice or sand. I made 3, so I've got 3 bags going here. I just dug up some dirt from my garden for these.


Then place that green spongy thing on top (I cut mine to size). 

Cut your burlap to size. *Place the burlap under the dirt, as seen in this pic, and wrap it up to cover the green foamy thing, then cut the burlap to make sure that the green foam and dirt won't show.

Then cut a few tiny branches of greenery off of the trees around your house (I cut mine from my Blue Spruce tree in my backyard, but if you don't have one in your backyard you can buy greenery at any hardware store like Lowes or Home Depot these days) --or quietly go for a walk late at night around your neighbourhood with some discreet clippers in your hand. 

Once you have shoved that greenery into the foam thing, wrap your burlap up and around the "tree" like a present, and secure it with an elastic band. Then add your ribbon.

This (below) is what they will look like before you trim the excess burlap and add your sparkly Christmas balls.

 Trim the excess burlap down to however you want it to look like, then start adding your tiny Christmas balls (found at Dollarama right now for only $1.50! for a whole box!).

And that's it! Adorable little Christmas trees. 

These cost me $1.50 total since I had everything on hand except the balls--so I'd say that's a pretty cheap centre piece! 

Happy decorating everyone!

More yummy dessert recipes coming your way for the holidays soon.

And on a more serious note, love to Paris and everyone impacted by violence all over the world. xoxo


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